Sunday, April 29, 2012

Agongdian Reservoir Loop

There wasn't supposed to be a ride today - the weather forecast said a 70% chance of rain. After yesterday's thunder and lightning, I'd planned a swim at the gym. Woke late however to clear blue skies, so headed out. Haven't fixed the broken spoke on my Kona yet, so dusted off the road bike.

I have a bit of trouble doing pleasure rides on this bike as H.G. Wells described best:

I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view - get hot, juicy, red - like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it. ~H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance

First ride with my new 50/34 compact crankset.

Earlier in the week, I'd planned a weekend ride out to Cock’s Comb Mountain for a hike, but the thought of starting a 200m hike just before noon made me change my mind. I therefore dedicate today's ride to Bruce Lee who said Be Like Water ( and follow the path of least resistance? )

Started the ride at Ciatou Sugar Refinery MRT station and headed east for around 25min. to Yanchiao and the Agongdian Reservoir bike path. It's best to do this ride counter-clockwise, as there are a couple of very short, but brutally steep, climbs that are easier in this direction.

The loop around the reservoir is only about 7km, but a nice escape from the sounds of cars and scooters. Also has a couple of suspension bridges thrown in.

After finishing the loop around the reservoir, it was time to head back the way I came. I have a fairly strong aversion to out-and-back rides - guess it comes from the limited choices I had for road rides as a lad in my home town: ride 20 miles north of town and back or 20 miles south of town and back.

I saw a fellow on a bike exit a little side road that followed alongside a canal. He said it would take me to Gangshan, just north of Ciatao, so I was off to explore. Turned out to be a very good choice.

A 10 minute blast south from Ciaotao on Highway 1 brought me to the Nantze Industrial District. The name alone should give you a pretty strong mental image of the place. Nantze is in fact an offence to every sense but one, as the high concentration of workers from Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand make it a culinary paradise in the middle of a wasteland. Stopped by my favorite Thai hole-in-the-wall for lunch.

Pictures of the king and queen on the walls, Thai whiskey and beer, Karaoke machine and heaping plates of cheap Thai food. Heaven! Was pretty quiet today due to being the last weekend before payday.

Ride Summary:  30km total
Ciaotou MRT to Agongdian Reservoir :  9km
Loop of Reservoir:  6km
Reservoir to Nantze : 15km

See this ride on Bikemap:  Agongdian Reservoir

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hit and Run!

Saw a scary video today on YouTube of a hit-and-run accident in Berkeley, California. (2:35)

This is the type of accident I fear the most in Taiwan - hit from behind, while riding where I should be. There's just nothing you can do about it.

A cycling friend of mine has been hit twice from behind by scooters in Kaohiung; though neither of them tried to flee the scene.

The pair of cyclists who got hit in this video took an unbelievable amount of abuse in the comments section because they blew a couple of stop signs. The thinly veiled anger many drivers have toward cyclists always amazes me; how dare cyclists make nuisances of themselves on THEIR roads.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Need a New Bike

I think I need a new bike. Well maybe not need, but would like a new bike. No, I need a new bike.
I have three bikes now and each has its purpose:

1) road bike     2) mountain bike     3) touring bike (modified Kona MTB)

The problem is, that all of these bikes are too nice to safely leave locked anywhere. I need a city bike to run errands with that I can leave parked out of sight for hours at a time, without having to worry about it.

Ideally, I would like something like this:

I suspect this bike is still too nice for my needs; it's nice though.
Looks far to similar to the bike stolen in this news story from Chiayi: stolen bike

Back in Victoria, a good friend of mine swore by his trusty Road King girl's 5-speed as his downtown bike of choice.

Can you believe the cheek?  Selling this bike for $150CDN ($4,500NT) SOLD! Unbelievable.

I don't know which would be hurt more by this bike - my ego or my wallet? I don't have near as many tatoos as my friend does.

Amah, ni de jiǎo tà chē - duōshǎo qián?

Will have to make a trip down to the 2nd hand bike shop on Friday and see what they've got for me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cijin Island

The plum rains are here, so had to cancel my Saturday ride to Cock's Comb Mountain. Did manage to get out for a little spin to Cijin Island with my friend D on Sunday, but it was very much a mixed bag. My recently trued back wheel broke a spoke, so we cut our ride short and headed back to town.

Repairs on the Love River bicycle bridge are finally complete, with lots of new wood. It looks like they actually treated the planks this time, so it might last a little longer.

Government ferry to Cijin.

Playing Ferry Frogger with the cargo ships. 

Where the bridge used to be before the typhoon a couple of summers ago washed it away.

The fishermen used to hang buckets with candles in them on the walls inside this tunnel at night. Was great to emerge from the tunnel feeling you'd escaped from the city for a while and sit drinking beer while watching the boats go in and out of the harbour.  

Overcast skies made for good fishing weather. It's too bad they had to put up a fence to stop all the foolish teenagers from getting washed off the breakwater and drowning. Didn't seem much of an obstacle for the 30 or so fishermen out there.

A huge pile of cement breaker jacks for use in a local uglification project.

Much of the bike route that went along the waterfront is now closed off for repair. Will give riding over here a miss till summer and hope they've cleaned things up a bit.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Crazy Laws Deserve to be Flouted

Was very suprised today by a story on the front page of the Taipei Times:

Novel devices pose legal conundrums

NOT ENFORCED: Your bike’s child safety seat might have a quality guarantee, but that does not alter that using it is illegal. However, the police seem not to care.

According to the Road Traffic Security Rules (道路交通安全規則), bicycles are barred from carrying passengers, and violators could face a fine of between NT$300 and NT$600, an official with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Department of Railways and Highways said. However, in practice the police do not ticket violators and the public flouts the rules.

In the meantime, large numbers of parents continue to take their children to school or on outings in the safety seat, and are no doubt reassured that the seat has cleared a quality inspection.

Lin said that installing child safety seats on bikes is against regulations, but is mostly considered a trivial offense and is not reported. Violators usually only receive a warning instead of being fined, he said.

I found the tone of this article quite offensive, with its underlying assumption that people who choose to transport their children on bicycles are violators who flout the law and only recieve warnings instead of being fined. Statements like Not Enforced and however, the police seem not to care are written as a condemnation of police that are being negligent in their duties.

At no point in the article does it ever question whether or not this is a reasonable law that needs to be enforced! And since when is a child seat on a bicycle a Novel Device?

Teaching my son how to flout the law on a trip to Cijin island.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Decided to do my annual spring detox a few weeks early this year and hit the juice on Thursday. I've been riding fairly regularly for a couple of months now, but my body still feels sluggish, so I figured a thorough cleaning of the system was in order.

The Plan: 2 weeks of drinking just juice ( fruit & veg. ) followed by a raw foods week.

My 3rd day on the juice is usually the toughest, when the body is fully making a transition to a new fuel source. Things got rough a little quicker this year and I woke up this morning with a headache and sore muscles. Luckily, I only work till noon on Fridays, and was feeling much better by mid-morning after a large juice and some water. Was very tired in the afternoon though, and cancelled my Cijin island ride and had a few hours of sleep instead and then went for a swim. Looking forward to a long ride tomorrow to Cock's Comb Mountain.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Island Getaway

The temperature really shot up this week, so I decided to combine a bike ride with some snorkling. The closest decent beaches to KHH are on Hsiao Liu Chiu (Xiao Liuqiu) island, so I hopped on the MRT early Saturday morning and travelled east to the last station: Daliao.

The convenient elevator at KHH Arena station near my house.

Ready for a day at the beach with flippers in tow.

Not many people ride to the end of the line.

Exiting Daliao station and turning left, you travel south for about 300m and turn left again at a T-intersection and follow this road all the way east to the Gaoping River. Then cross Highway 21 and get up on top of the dyke and ride the bikepath along the river all the way south to Lingyuan.

Riding south on the dyke.

One of the few bits of shade to stop for a drink on this ride.

The new bridge across the Gaoping river on highway 17 has a lot more room for cyclists now.

Arrived at Donggang harbour at 10:45am and quickly boarded a boat leaving at 11:00. $380 for a return ticket + $50 extra for the bike each way.

Didn't realize there are 2 different harbours on Hsiao Liu Chiu and this boat didn't go to the main Baishawei Tourist Harbour. As I circled the island counter-clockwise, I couldn't figure out why it was taking me so long to get to the beach where I wanted to swim. The island also had a lot more hills than I remembered from when I last visited 8 years ago; I'm getting old.

Looking back toward Dafu Fishing Harbour from a viewpoint at the top of the first climb.

The famous crystal-clear waters of the island's beaches.

Houshi Skirt Reef beach had great snorkling.

The lack of cars on the island made for very good riding, with the odd tour bus to look out for on corners like this.

Arrived back in Donggang at 3:45 to be greeted by a brutal headwind for the 20km trip back to KHH. Can't say I enjoyed this portion of the ride very much and took no photos.

1) Daliao MRT - Donggang : 26km totally flat
2) Island Loop : 12km of short steep climbs (+8km when I got lost)
3) Donggang - Siogang MRT : 20km totally flat

To see this ride on Bikemap:
To Dongang and back
Island Loop

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cool Video Trailer

Reveal the Path
by Mike Dion

A visually stunning adventure by bike: 'Reveal the Path' explores the world’s playgrounds in Europe’s snow capped mountains, Scotland’s lush valleys, Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches and Morocco’s high desert landscapes. Ride along and get lost in the wonders of the world. Filmed across four continents and featuring Tour Divide race legends, Matthew Lee & Kurt Refsnider, this immersive film is sure to ignite the dream in you.

Join in as the creators of 'Ride the Divide' take you on an adventure that will leave you with an eager desire to chart your own course to far away lands or simply to discover with eyes wide open what’s right around the bend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kaohsiung City Ride

Got a Wednesday off and decided to take advantage of the beautiful blue skies in KHH and ride down the Love River bike path to the harbour and university.

I always have to remind myself to be careful on bike paths because they are designed to kill cyclists. Here is a great example of design that kills;  hide those ugly boxes along with cyclists transitioning from the bike path to one of the biggest roads in the city.

Got to the harbour at around 10:30am to find it was pleasantly quiet. I normally avoid the road around the point to the university, but the hoards of Chinese tourists that usually mob the former British Consulate must have been elsewhere today.

Was good to finally see work underway to fix the bike path that follows the waterfront below the lighthouse on Cijin Island. The boardwalk/bikepath was washed away by a typhoon in the summer of 2010. I hope the path no longer meets a deadend at a set of stairs that forces everyone to return the way they came.

Headed back to Tzoying along the newest bikepath in the city. It follows an old rail line that goes north from the harbour parallel to Gushan road. It's not finished yet, but will eventually go all the way to the art museum.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kaohsiung to Tainan - Best Route

There are a few different ways to ride from Kaohsiung to Tainan, but some are better than others.
I don't really like highways 1, 17 or 19 as they are all quite flat, straight and boring, with scenery that ranges from pretty poor to downright hideous.

By far, the BEST way to ride from KHH to Tainan is via backroads through the badlands.
I like to take the MRT north to the Sugar Refinery and start from there for this ride. This trims about 30 minutes of riding through industrial wastelands in North KHH.

From the MRT station you head north-east to Yanchiao and the Agongdian Reservoir.
The dyke on the south end of the Agongdian Reservoir

Hugging the hills on the west side of the reservoir, the road rolls north to highway 28.

The start of the climb at the south-west corner of the reservior.

This pleasant road road sees very little traffic, so the lack of a bike/scooter lane isn't a problem.

Turn right and head east along the 28 over 2 medium climbs to Moonland Park.

At the bottom of a hill on highway 28 just before Moonland Park.

At the bottom of the hill just past Moonland, turn left and head north on 39-1 along this quiet road all the way to highway 182.

Highway 182 heads straight west into downtown Tainan and isn't great, but ok. It does get busy when you pass highway 1 and the Hola store. Other choices from east Tainan are to head back to KHH on highway 19 or ride to the nearby high-speed train.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dream Rides

I've been on 5 cycling trips to the Philippines before, but still feel there is more that I want to explore there. I recently discovered an island chain north of Luzon called the Batanes that is next on my list of places I'd love to visit.

Was checking out what the boys at Bugoy Bikers have been up to and came across this amazing photo gallery on their site, that I thought was the Scottish Highlands at first. You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was the Philippines!

Batanes 2009

Did a little more digging around and also found a great travelogue on the Batanes by Ironwolf at     En Route:

Batanes: Biking 49km of Batan Island Coastal Road

Not sure when I'll have to time to go there, but it would be a great place to go riding.