Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Challenge Ride Recap

A group of twelve expat riders met Sunday morning for the Yangmingshan Neverstop Challenge Ride. The timing chip in our numbers were triggered as we rolled out under the start banner. The field of 300+ riders started any time between 6:50 and 7:30.

Rock and I rode the first hill together. We picked up a couple bananas at the food stop near the Saddle before the chilly descent down to the coast. Fortunately, it was much warmer when I met up with Mike in Jinshan, and the refueling stop at the North Coast race finish was a more pleasant affair. We picked up more fruit and energy gels at Psycho Squirrel Bridge. The final climb to Buffalo Meadows was steep but doable.

As we crossed the line, we were given a finishing medal and funneled to a tent where a computer, printer and laminator were set up. Our finishing certificates were printed with our times and laminated within thirty seconds of finishing- very impressive!

Overall Times

I would highly recommend this well organized ride if it is held again in the future. The course can either be ridden as a long time trial or an enjoyable group ride. The route was clearly marked and marshalled and the food stops were well stocked.

Bill motors up the hill.

Claus, Rock, and Bill smile for the camera.

Harry, Michael, and Chris ascend Yangmingshan.

Friday, December 08, 2006

December 10th Challenge Ride Details

Bill B. has said he will send me more details on Sunday's challenge ride this morning. When he does, I'll post them here. What I know so far:

If you registered, you will receive a timing chip in your helmet number (although this is not a race). You may begin any time between 7 and 7:30. There will be food and drink stops along the way.

I will meet at TAS at 6:15 to ride to Pink BMW Corner (park at bottom of Yangde Road) for registration. I know that some people who haven't registered are still riding some or all of the route. Come along!

Hope to see you out there.


Further details:

After registering, riders can start their time by crossing through the timing gate anytime after 7 am. There will not be traffic control. Food/water stops:

High point of Yang Jin Road (closes at 9:30)
Dapin Elementary School (closes at 12:00)
Fonlin Bridge (closes at 14:00)

The finish line closes at 15:00.

There will be more than 30 "mobile service stations," emergency stations, and traffic direction stations.

Phone numbers:

Command Center: 0932379804
Rescue Center: 0955878863
Radio Frequency: VHF 145.640, 145.620, 145.600

Monday, December 04, 2006

Epic Day in the Saddle: Dec. 2nd Challenge Ride

Leon, Ron and I met Henry at Sean's shop at 5:30 Saturday morning. It took us about forty minutes to ride into the city to Banchiao. Although the skies were gray, the roads were dry.

At the challenge ride start, hundreds of cyclists, many on mountain bikes, city bikes and folding bikes milled around, registering and enjoying the early morning singers and dancers up on stage. Leon declined to dance the warm up. Curt met us at the start, as he had been staying at his in-laws in Banchiao with his two week old daughter.

The group rolled out promptly at 7 behind scores of uniformed bicycle policemen on new full suspension Giants. Traffic was stopped at every intersection as hundreds of cyclists moved through to the outskirts of the city. At one point, our path was blocked by a political rally complete with firecrackers and bottle rockets, so the massive group just backtracked to the next road down and continued on. It was at this point that we met up with Harry and Victor.

Unfortunately, about an hour into the ride, the skies opened up and it began to pour. Because the organizers were blocking roads for us, we had periodic rest stops to regroup which proved to be quite chilly as the temperatures dropped and the rain continued to fall. Many of the riders turned back when the organizers promised to mail them their completion certificates even if they didn't finish.

After what seemed like several hours of bucketing rain, the skies let up, and we pulled into a local elementary school for our first food break. Spirits rose like the pork buns set out for us when the rain stopped completely.

When we hit the coast at Fulong, a group of road cyclists formed a small peloton at the front, led by Harry and Curt. When a massive headwind sprang up, Leon launched off the front, chased by several Giant Asia riders. This continued for two more rest stops, until we pulled into our lunch stop in another elementary school just outside Keelung.

We were all impressed with the spread of food laid out, considering that there was no entry fee for this challenge ride. The doors to the classrooms were open for those who needed a little more warmth, but you could imagine that on a nicer day, the quad would have been filled with lunching cyclists.

Victor provided us with a map and helped us figure out how to navigate through Keelung, so Ron, Harry, Curt, Leon and I left early and rode as a small group to Wanli where we decided to head into the mountains rather than continue along the rainy coast.

After refueling at the Wanli 7-11, we began our first real ascent of the day up the back of Helen's. Of course, the rain came heavier and heavier as we ascended, but the waterfalls and misty vistas balanced the cold that was beginning to seep into our bones.

The descent back into Tien Mu was quite chilly, but the hot showers waiting for us at the end of the line made it all manageable.

The final stats (for me):

10 hours door to door
7:02 riding time
162 km

Even with the weather, I'd recommend the challenge ride to anyone looking for a manageable long ride with good support.

I'm looking forward to this weekend's Yangmingshan Challenge!


Friday, December 01, 2006

2007 Race Schedule

Here is the 2007 Taiwan Cycling Club Championship schedule:

March 3rd North Coast 60km (this year's race description here)
March 31st Tour of East Taiwan Day 1 120km (this year's race description here)
April 1st Tour of East Taiwan Day 2 160km
May 26th Northeast Coast Gongliao Shuangsi 58km (this year's race description here)
June 23rd Ilan Time Trial Day 1
June 24th Taiping Shan Climb Day 2 23km (this year's race description here)
August 25th Ali Shan Climb 62km (this year's race description here)

If you look at the results from any of this year's races, you'll see that you don't need to be a serious bike racer to compete. Taiwan is a great place to try your first bike race. Start your training now!