Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cycling Couple Killed in Thailand

Another sad reminder today about how vulnerable we are when out riding.
UK cyclist-bloggers on world tour killed in Thailand
Experienced cyclists who were riding safely - killed for what?
Because some fool dropped his hat!
My thoughts really go out to their family and friends.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cycling with Kids

Should I share my love of cycling with my son?

This is a question that I have given a lot of serious thought over the past year; and there's no easy answer.
The reason for my trepidation is safety - Cycling on the roads of Taiwan is dangerous.
Of all the sports that I could introduce to my child, it's hard to think of anything that has as high a potential for serious injury or death as riding a bicycle.  Is it worth the risk?

In the end, I decided to bring him riding with me, but to also make sure he has a chance to try a range of other sports like swimming, tennis, hiking, basketball, etc... He can make his own choices about what he likes and I'll just secretly hope it's not cycling. In the meantime, he can learn how to ride safely with me and be better prepared for when he rides on his own.

 The trail-a-bike setup with my 91 Kona Explosif.

 Cycling near Henchun in Kenting National Park during Chinese New Year.

It's been about 6 months since we started going on rides together, and I've learned a few things that help things go smoother.

*I always include him in the planning of our trips. We look at the maps together and talk about what we can do at the different places we could go. It's always important to him that there is a destination and that there is something fun to do there.

*We each have our responsibilities for getting the bikes ready to ride; checking there's air in the tires, filling the water bottles, etc...

 *We stop for drinks and snacks a lot more often than when I'm riding by myself; every 10 minutes or so.

*The ride is broken up into 20 minute riding chunks. We stop at playgrounds, at 7-11, for ice-cream or if he sees anything interesting.

Stopping for treats on the road after some swimming at White Sand Beach.

*We always bring some games to play during rest stops or at our destination.

*Build up the total riding distance slowly. After 6 months of riding a couple of times a week, we can now do a round trip of 30km.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dapeng Bay

I've been wanting to do a ride around Dapeng Bay for a while now, so I stopped by the Kaohsiung train station the other day to check some times for a train south to Linbian. To my surprise, the staff assured me I could roll my unbagged bike onto trains heading south from KHH at the following times:    
5:36 / 7:49 / 8:34 / 10:04 / 14:33 / 15:45 / 17:18 / 16:20 and 18:52

This made me very happy, as I really hate bagging my bike.
I just had to show up 30 minutes before departure time.

Having been let down a number of times in the past by what the TRA has told me, I showed up at the train station on Friday morning only half expecting to be able to board the train with my unbagged bike. But, it turned out to be no problem. $83 for me, $27 for my bike and a personal escort to the train to help load my bike into baggage car #10.

After a pleasant 1.5hour journey through the Pingdong countryside, I was quite surprised to arrive at the brand new Linbian station. Not quite sure why it's now an elevated station; perhaps so it can pass over the nearby highway to Kenting.

A 20min. ride north on Highway 17 brought me to the massive Visitor Center which provided me with a map. The entire place had the feeling of a abandoned amusement park at which I was the only visitor, so I stayed alert for zombie attack.

The nearby bike rental shop had no less than 5 staff members; 2 more than I was to actually see riding on the bike path that day. I did however, see over a dozen motorcycles and scooters making use of the bike path. They know damn well they shouldn't be there and make a quick exit the moment they see the camera.

The Qifeng wetlands were my favorite part of the ride, with lots of birds to see.

Sadly, much of the coasline along the oceanside portion of the bike path was lined with rows of concrete. I did manage to find one nice section that was still in its natural state, but its fate awaited a little further along; a mountain of concrete jacks.

The enjoyable portion of the ride ended at Donggang harbour, where I found a little shop catering to Indonesian fishing boat crews. Enjoyed a mie goreng with a Kopi to fuel myself for the 25km battle against headwinds through the industrial wastelands of southern KHH city.

A ramp that connects the Gaoping river bike path with the bridge seems no closer to completion than when I last passed here in April.

Overall, it was a decent half-day ride. I would certainly recommend making a detour off Highway 17 along the oceanside between Linbian and the Gaoping river bridge to anyone riding from KHH to Kenting.

Ride Summary
Total distance: 40km
Climbing: 60m