Pray For Me
The great thing about living in Taichung is that you don't have to go far to have a beautiful ride.
For my Sunday ride I decided to keep the distance down, but I thought I should add some hills to my rehab diet. Nothing fit the bill better than the Route 129 to Route 136 loop through the foothills of Taichung.
I need to control my efforts to ensure a solid recovery and so I made an easy spin out to Dong Shan Rd. Even though it was only 8:00am the heat and humidity was already unbearable.
As I headed for the hills, the roads were full of cyclists of all kinds who were already returning from their day's rides. I really should get out earlier to beat the heat, but I think it would be better to just acclimate and get it over with.
I pounded away toward my first hill climb up the Route 129 to Hsin She, but I stopped at a temple along the way to stretch my legs out as I wasn't sure how I would fare on a sustained climb. My big fear is damaging my knee again and having to start again at zero.
As I finished my stretches, I saw two groups of riders aggressively chase each other to the base of the hill. "Damn!" I thought to myself, "those guys are going to badass it up that hill. I'm glad I'll follow up behind so I don't have to get passed."
A few minutes later I was on my way up the hill and a few minutes after that I passed two groups of very tired riders who pissed themselves out on the approach. I felt solid, but fatigued. I have done minimal climbing on the new bike and I am still getting used to its behavior. My out of the saddle work was a complete joke.
I soon reached the summit and stopped to refill my single water bottle.
Folks sure look like they're going fast when you're standing still.
At the 7-11 at the top of the hill I met a group of three riders. One of them had a very special and unique "Taiwan bike".
His bike was a beautifully made Rikulau road bike, made with Reynolds 853 steel and sporting the "flying fish" design and several design elements borrowed from the traditional boats used by the indigenous Dao'oo people on Orchid Island, also known as Lanyu or Pong-so no Dao'oo in the local language on the island.
The circular design represents the "eye" of the boat to see the flying fish. The human figure represents the "first man".
The bike was a very interesting sight. Unfortunately, the owner was not fully aware of the symbolism on his bike.
I got going again, but stopped for a coffee at the grand 7-11 along the Route 93, before making some good time into the Feng lin valley.
The traffic was tolerable, but nothing is worse than building to a good speed and then catching up to traffic.
I started my descent into the valley and all too fast caught up to another car. I thought I would pull over and let the cars go on ahead so I could sit back and enjoy the descent.
Again and again I caught up with the touring traffic. It was really hard to get the full thrill from the narrow paved squiggle of a road.
Several cyclists were on their way up the opposite direction and several looked to be in various states of pain. I had already conquered a couple sections over 10%. Soon it was time for the killer climb to the plateau over the other side of the valley.
The road skates along the rim of the valley before plummeting down to the Route 136 below. The heat and my poor fitness really had me dogging it by the time I started rumbling toward Taichung.
I finally made my way into town. I can feel the improvements are coming, but I have to be patient. Nothing promotes improvement like stressing the body. We shall see what next week brings.
This is a great local route for anyone and it should be high on anyone's list of thrilling rides close to the city.
Here's the map with my sad set of stats:
*Note: The man in the picture has a military tattoo on his arm calling for the deaths of Zhu de, the father of the Red Army, and Mao Ze-dong, the Chinese Communist leader. An additional slogan calls to "Retake Our Rivers and Mountains" with ROC and KMT (Chinese Nationalist Party) flags crossing below. The man is buying the United Daily, Taiwan's KMT newspaper. Old soldiers like these are becoming more and more rare. They represent a culture that owes its existence to Taiwan, while rejecting Taiwan in favor of a Chinese center. The United Daily had been a valuable tool in helping these old soldiers defend their collective Waisheng identity, which is bound directly to the fundamentalism of KMT ideology.