After a couple weeks with little to show for it, I was finally able to use my long weekend to lay some miles down on the bike. It was the perfect opportunity for a Century ride (160km). I was joined by Michael Turton and Chris Bolster, a cycling neophyte.
For Chris, a man who weighed over 300lbs last year, this would be his first Century ride... and his first ride over 100km.
We chose the easiest and best route for a Century between Taichung and Tainan by taking the Route 145 from Hsiluo to Beigang. Although there are several larger and better marked routes, the Route 145 is flat, beautifully paved, and is almost devoid of stop lights... or at least any stops you actually need to heed. It is easy to slip into a pace and maintain that pace for kilometer after flat kilometer.
With a strong wind at our backs, progress was easy.
With this being my first ride of any real length since November, I was cautious and steadfast in my goal to simply take it easy. I only needed to spend time in the saddle and acclimate to the feeling of spending hours on a bike seat.
The road just unfolds southward through fields and farms. Today, the smell of pigshit was not overbearing and we could take our time enjoying the scenery.
The route is marked by the periodic sight of a smoke stack or rusting hull of one of the hundreds of sugar refineries from the Japanese colonial era that made up such a major part of the prewar Taiwanese economy.
We tried a more creative route into Tainan which dumped us out onto the Highway 1. With 49km to Tainan City and 30km shy of a Century, I decided to go for broke and put the Century ride to bed in short order. I hopped the speed up to between 35kph and 40kph and reached the 160km mark just about where the road turned to the HSR station.
Michael, who had put in a little more distance earlier on in the trip, pulled up at the Shanhua Station. After a rest and a stretch, the mighty Chris came rolling along and we took the turn to find the HSR.
I kept expecting to see the station at any moment. The slight bow of the HSR line simply masked the distance to the station and made it seem frustratingly far. In fact, it was frustratingly far. We ended up riding an additional 24km. Just before the station, the road rises up into the highest hill of the ride (possibly the highest hill in Tainan City) to the station. We heaved over the hill before packing up our bikes and a celebratory beer. We headed home in Business Class style because the have more space to stow a bike and they offer coffee and dessert service.
The whole ride was 185km and Chris was just incredible on his first Century. I am looking forward to doing this again.
Moreover, I am happy to be feeling well enough to do these longer rides again.