Posing Above Airbase
After slightly over doing it last weekend, I really needed to take it easy. I needed to ride. I mean, I REALLY needed to ride! Still, I did not want to get myself into any situation that would destroy my knee again if I started feeling pain 50km from home. I also really needed to ride with my good friend Michael Turton from The View From Taiwan. We hadn't ridden together in weeks and sometimes nothing is better than just shooting the shit on two wheels.
I invited Michael to join me on an easy ride around Taichung City. The idea was to take a slow roll around the edges of the city with maybe time for a long coffee at a pace easy enough to talk Taiwanese politics, culture and biking.
On my way out to meet Michael, I was happy to meet two cyclists who called themselves the "Bicycle Brothers" or 鐵馬兄弟. These two young men were on the final day of their round-island trip, which started in Taoyuan. Each man had a placard attached to the back of their bicycle expressing his love for Taiwan. For many Taiwanese, a round-island trip not only signifies a physical or personal challenge, but it also reflects a desire to view Taiwan as a center and the intent to experience the country from all sides. The round-island trip has become a strong expression of a Taiwan-centered identity (a symbol that has often been subverted by Taiwan's political actors, especially if their loyalty to Taiwan is suspect).
As I made my way out toward the edge of the city near Dakeng, the mountains were clearly visible in the distance. With moist air blowing off the ocean, it is too easy to forget Taichung is surrounded by foothills and mountains that mostly reside behind a veil of dust and haze.
I followed Michael on some winding paths between the graves near the notorious Ivy boarding school, and we worked our way into Shen Gang.
Before long we were on the Highway 10, which runs from Daya to Feng-yuan. I love this area as I always see the damnedest things out there.
Eventually we met up with Zhong Ching Rd. and took that to the base of Dadu Shan. As we were riding we briefly joined a group of very friendly cyclists on mountain bikes who were determined to get to Ching Shui. My favorite exchange came from this bunch:
Guy: Giant makes good bikes. Maybe you should buy a Giant.
Me: I have heard that Seven isn't so bad either.
It wasn't long before Michael had heard enough of the Giant worship, and after coming off a Giant himself, put the rubber down and had put the group a kilometer behind.
We reached the climb up to Dadu Shan and although I can still climb, my endurance is really hurting. I can't wait to start the interval training to get my skills back.
The view from Dadu Shan was beautiful. It is easy to get stuck in the city hating on the traffic and exhaust. Luckily we have Dadu Shan sitting just above the city where a rider can get away and put the whole mess into perspective.
From my earliest days in Taichung I have always been impressed with the fields of bright orange clay that over over the city skyline.
The clouds and sprinkles of rain added a little drama to the descent off the hill as we barreled into Taichung city along Xi-tun Rd. and eventually a relaxed lunch before calling it a day.
The leg was getting a bit sore, but it was mainly along the IT band near the hip, so a little stretching took care of it and it was like hitting the reset button. A little knee soreness that also quickly abated, so a few more building rides before I try another long adventure or serious climbing.