Wednesday, January 21, 2009

back in the shop

After a week-long recovery from jet lag, I finally got around to bringing the SL over to Frank's for reassembly and maintenance today.

Besides the usual check-ups and cleaning, there's also been a recall on the SL's fork. Apparently somebody rode his SL into a pothole and the fork cracked, so now they're recalling & replacing a good portion of forks. Details on the recall at

Assuming the bike is ok to ride, I should be on it this weekend. Anyone up for braving the cold?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How would YOU spend new year's day?

...BIKING, of course!

Woke up at 5:00a.m. to prep up for the ride (only 2 hours of sleep, and just in time to see my bro come home from his parties =P). Then headed out in full cold gear to join about 50 others at the president's building for the annual flag-raising ceremony. Apparently this has been a tradition for almost a decade for bikers in Taipei...pretty sweet way to start the new year.

Full cold gear @ new year's flag-raising ceremony. Behind the camera was a small group of highly controversial human rights protesters (not to be confused with bikers).

After the ceremony, we headed out for the day's ride. First, we went across the entire cite (my clipless pedals HATE frequent stoplights!), passing by Taipei 101 on the way.

Taking a proper pic of 101 is harder than i thought...stupid backlight!

After that, we hit some epic McDonald's (that and 7-eleven are the most bike-friendly rest stops here =P) for breakfast and made our way up Xiping highway over a small mountain. The climb wasn't so bad, but the sweat + cold winter wind was more of a danger at the peak, where we all regrouped.

Then we descended into some really well-known (among the locals) old towns: Pingxi and Jingtong. The pack leader chose Jingtong for our lunch destination, and for good reason:

Old-school train station...

...and a crap ton of food booths across the colonial-style main-street. YUM!

After the food break, it was a smooth descent back into Taipei city, passing the zoo along the way (bunch of people lined up to see the pandas from china lol...happy new year?). All in all a good 70km leisure/cultural ride. Highly recommend it to anyone visiting Taipei.

Recovery ride

After that grueling climb (srsly, it hurted like hell!), I decided to go on a recovery ride...ALL FLATS

The ride started at the river-side park. Praised as the 5-star bike lanes, there are currently 200km worth of these bike-and-pedestrian-only paths along the rivers in Taipei. And I have to say...its definitely 5-star quality (except the under-construction sections...and when there's no need to dodge kids, dogs, baseballs, rugby balls etc)

View of Da-zhi bridge from the river-side park

Can even see Taipei 101 from here!

Of course, biking in taiwan inevitably involves the other favorite pastime: FOOD!
Oyster pancakes, barbeque pork, ball soup, fried tofu for lunch @ Guan Du temple...YUM!
Also learned something interesting: there's a CRAP TON of bridges around the taipei area.

Guan Du bridge...connects to somewhere >.>;;

After passing by the Guan Du area, we continued down the park lanes, then transitioned to some road until hitting 101甲 road...the beginning of another tough climb. Definitely skipping this one today =P.

Yeah...this is as far as I'll go for the day.

Not too shabby for a recovery ride, but there's definitely more to come!

The wind bellows --> north coast ride

About a week ago I took another trip up that windy, rainy mountain. Except this time around it was sunny and calm, and I had good company.

The climb was definitely more forgiving without the rain and wind, though it still poses a challenge. After sprinting up the whole thing (yeah, 39/26 means sprint!) and regrouping with the stragglers, we did the one thing we do best: eat!

On the menu: all-you-can-eat yam & ginger soup! (Not on the menu: all-you-can-drink Johnny Walker Green Label...we found the owner's private stash!)

And of course, since I couldn't take a picture LAST TIME I was up here (stupid weather, read post below), I had to make up for it this time around:

The iconic canopy at the top of 風櫃嘴, with the gang.

Instead of descending the same way we cam up, we decided this time to go down the other side of the mountain and tour the north coast...which involved first a rather nerve-wrecking 15km descent, complete with its repetoir of steep hairpin turns and freaked-out drivers =P

Upon our safe descent to the coast, we headed north along the scenic shoreline. Here's a sample look:
We only had time for 1 picture at the coastal way before I took off after some hotshot on a TT bike that passed us =P...raced him for about 10km before having to stop at a fork in the road and wait for everyone else lol

Of course, being able to sprint ahead had its advantages...did manage to sneak in a few more pictures at 富貴角, the northern-most point in taiwan:
At the iconic lamp house...

...and getting real excited! (6.5kg bike ftw!)

And a couple more shots of the (really) beautiful north coast:

After that, it was a coffee break and a sprint home...suffice it to say I raced some other hardcore roadies during the 1-hour-long ride and ended up beating some motorcycles too =P