Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ride Report: Rolling Into "The New Territories"...

A nice size group met this morning at 6 am in front of TAS. Julie and Charlene headed out for a flat spin past Pali. The three Bills, Marcus, Kaight, Jesper, Leon and Steve spun out towards Helen's, meeting Joe at Psycho Squirrel Bridge, descending out of the fog from what must have been a very early ride.

The group climbed through the fog, arriving to clear skies and dry roads up at the Pagoda. After numerous photo taking attempts, the pair of Bills and Marcus descended back to Tien Mu, while the others continued on to meet Lucas at his mountain estate below Helen's. A ride along unmarked mountain roads and past numerous questionable dogs dropped the group down at the highway separating what Lucas calls the Dutch Territories (in the hills around Helen's) from the New Territories (out through Shrfen and Pingxi). 

At this point, Kaight decided to climb back to Helen's and head home, while the rest of the group took on the 10 km ascent- the second of six climbs on Lucas's route. The fog hid the view, but all agreed that it was still a great climb.

On the other side of the mountain, the group ran into Shane and Dave at a local snack shop. They joined up for the third climb, a wicked little lane leading up into the tea plantations. Jesper's altimeter hit 18% on one stretch.

From there, the group headed down into the tea hills. Leon's rear wheel spun out on one of the corners, sending him sliding into the gutter. He added a little skin to the moss and wet leaves on the corner, but he was back on his bike as quick as a Tour rider. The next climb was up through the tea plantations. The fog lifted, and the view was spectacular. The group paused at a beautiful temple two thirds of the way up the climb, where Leon rinsed off his wounds as the locals watched.

Lucas brought the group to an historic railway station for lunch. Claiming that he wasn't interested in the usual lunch spots chosen by the group on long rides ("beside a sewer hole eating 7-11 noodles"), Lucas ordered scrumptious beef noodle soup for all, while Leon and Jesper and Bill found the cheapest lattes in Northern Taiwan.

The penultimate climb was the steepest- Jesper measured a grade of 20% along the way. Towards the top, Lucas advised that the group spread out to allow for traversing the narrow road...

The descent was by far the steepest of the day. In fact, Bill's rims got so hot that his rim tape buckled and his rear wheel flatted. Fortunately, the flat occurred just near a picnic area. Unfortunately, the Taiwanese karaoke music from the nearby group was not the most relaxing. Despite the noise, Lucas's verbal heckling, and a broken tube valve, Bill managed to fashion a Macguyver-esque repair job out of some tape from the back of Jesper's seat and a second spare tube (which lasted until the Tien Mu Warner Village- he finished his climb home on his rim...).

The final climb to Helen's was uneventful but rather quick. The final totals from the ride were 140 km of ups and downs, 3047 metres of climbing (thanks, Jesper!), 6 hours 40 minutes ride time, and a 2:40 pm return to Tien Mu. All of Lucas's climbs were beautiful, and hardly a car was seen on any of the six.

Tomorrow is a rest day for me. There may be another ride out into the New Territories on Thursday, depending on the weather. Look for a posting tomorrow afternoon/evening.

Bill O'Brien

Monday, January 30, 2006

YCC Riding Notes: Posting & CNY Riding

Happy New Year, cyclists!
I've seen many different groups of riders out in the Yangmingshan hills this past year- early morning weekday groups, long coast ride groups, female only groups, mountain bike groups, fast groups, not-so-fast groups. If you're looking for other cyclists to ride with, don't forget to check out the cycling blog (http://taipeiycc.blogspot.com). Anyone can post to this blog by sending an email to yangmingshan.taipeiycc@blogger.com. If you'd like help finding a group that rides at your pace, feel free to drop me a note, as I may be able to put you in touch with a group directly.
If you're feeling fit and you're up for a long ride this week, Lucas has offered to take a group out to explore "The New Territories" beyond Helen's. We're meeting at TAS at 6 am Tuesday. Lucas says the ride will be around 6 hours round trip from the coffee trucks- that would get us back around 2 pm. It should be beautiful riding- lots of hills and untraveled roads. While the ride will be long, the pace should be reasonable. The CNY holiday is the perfect time for a nice long ride like this. If all goes well, we will head out there again Thursday morning.
I'm riding fairly regularly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Saturdays and Sundays at different times. My usual compatriots are Steve, Steve, Leon, Dave and Eric. Nic has been getting out with a women's group some in the afternoons and on the weekends. Let me know if you'd like to join either of us. I'll try to be more regular about posting my rides to the blog.
If you're interested in giving a local race a try, the next one is Sunday, March 12th. It should start out near Jinshan, travel 40 to 50 km along the coast flats and then head up into the hills for 10 or 15 km. Details to follow...
If you're traveling to Europe this summer, be sure to check out this link from Jesper and Craig:
It lists details on climbs around Europe. Jesper's favorite:
Hope to see you out in the hills!
Bill O'Brien

Friday, January 20, 2006

Weekend Riding...

The blasters will be pushing it up to the Saddle, down to Jinshan, over and up the 101. Meet Saturday morning at TAS at 6:30, back to Tienmu around 10ish...

Sunday's ride will be more mellow- probably out towards Wanli and up the March 12th race course hill. Not sure of the exact time- email me if you're interested. Probably 6:30 or 7.

Bill O'B

P.S. Craig John sent the following tentative triathlon/road racing calendar for the spring:

Cycle 6-11/3 Tour de Taiwan (changed from October)


Cycle 3/12 The North Coast Race.


Triathlon 3/18 The Hwalien triathlon.


Cycle 4/1~4/2 The Tour of East Taiwan.


Triathlon 4/8 Half ironman kenting.


Triathlon 4/23 Stronman  triathlon Japan.


Triathlon 5/6 Uni-President cup Tainan triathlon. (this is a date that the national triathlon body has mentioned as being at sun moon lake?? Will check it out)


Cycle 7/29~7/30 Giant cup

Friday, January 13, 2006

Baseline 101 Timetrial on Saturday

Interested in setting a base time for your cycling goals this year?
If so, we'll be meeting at TAS at 6:30 Saturday to ride out to the
101 hill. The climb lasts 30-40 minutes; you can set a time now to
work on improving over the course of the year. I know this first time
will be my slowest... Should be back to Tien Mu by 9ish.

I'm also planning on a longer ride Sunday morning, leaving around 7
am, back by 10:30ish. If you're interested, send me an email.

Bill O'Brien

P.S. Triple Crown point champion was the illustrious "Skinny Boy"
Seymour. Congrats! Rematch soon...

P.P.S. Next local race is March 13th (North Coast- 70 km or so). Mark
your calendars. Complete cycling and triathlon calendar to be posted