Life On Two Wheels

Along the river and toward the mountains a morning shadow shimmers across the road. The rays of the first light jet through the trees and across a figure gliding upon the road. His breath trails in short spurts, petrified as it hits the icy air. All is quiet except the slight sound of the athlete as he summons himself for yet another days work. Soon the rest of the world will bustle with life as well and the brief simplicity of cyclist and nature will disappear into the everyday struggle of life in full motion; the errands and intervals, the appointments and intersections, and the deadlines and finish lines OutPaceTheRace

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Day 1
The flight was 12 hours, but it seemed like 2 or so. Immediately after getting on we were served dinner (at 5:00 in the morning!!?) Then 4 hours later breakfast, the time kept changing so I eventually gave up trying to figure out what was actually going on.
When we got off at KHH, we thought we had a bunch of time, so nick went into the bathroom to wash his bottles out. Then I looked down at the boarding pass and realized that we had 15 minutes before the plane left. So I had to go get him and we made the flight with like 2 minutes to spare. The plane was a Boeing MG 90. (747 out of SeaTac).
So, Taiwan is very mountainous and very Humid. Everyone drives a scooter, and those that don't, drive a diesel car. The air is horrible, today it’s supposed to be sunny- and it is in the sky, but on the ground there’s a layer of smog. Most appealing.
I'm gonna go on a ride pretty soon, but we're waiting for our bikes to get here cause they got screwed up in Taipei and evidently missed the flight that we almost missed. They'll be here a little after 2pm. I guess it’s the 27 of Nov here and the 26th in Seattle.
They've got DSL in the room for free, so for the next few days, while I'm here, I'll be able to use it.

Day 2
Today we woke up at 7:00, I'm not sure why, but we did. I guess Gus wanted to ride earlier. So we went down and had breakfast, the first Taiwan breakfast. They had normal American food and then they had the Chinese stuff which included vegetables, meet, rice, broth etc. For Oatmeal they had what looked like watered oats. I chose not to have that.
Then we went on the ride. We went out to this ferry and then rode on this Island, it’s connected by bridges and tunnels but I guess there's too much traffic on those. The riding was actually very good on the island and we ended up riding for about an hour and a half. It was pretty interesting, its not like it was remote or anything, because it seemed to me that it was as inhabited as anything else is, there were the colorful temple things with the curving ceiling, but I forgot the camera so I couldn't get a picture, I'll get one eventually though. It’s also right on the pacific so it reminded me a lot of Hawaii- especially in regard to the mountains on the main island, that's very similar. But the place is so smoggy that you could cut it with a knife. Apparently the water's inhabited by Barracuda- little fish that eat living things. We didn't have anything to throw in while we were on the ferry but the locals confirmed it.
There were also a regular U.S military cruiser and an Aegis one. They had red, white & blue banners on them (which the race'll be draping on the podium when the race is over too), so I assume that the Taiwanese bought them but I'm not sure.
A lot of the roofs and stuff are made of tin or Zink or whatever, they're falling apart and stuff. I've got pictures of most of the stuff. The trash picker uppers are clad in some very strange uniforms, I'm hoping to get a picture of them somewhere along the line without being rude, and generally the locals are very polite and nice. I'm also planning on getting a picture of me walking amongst the locals, I'm a good half a foot taller than them... The Germans, checz, polish etc that are here for the race, now that's a different story.
Lunch was noodles in broth with beef chunks, seems to be the specialty here. Its 4:47 here, so Dinner is about 1 hour or so away, I guess it’s going to be part of the opening ceremony for the race which officially starts tomorrow.

Day 3
Today was the first race. It went fine, I got 20th. We all worked for Gus because it came down to a sprint, he ended up getting 10th. It was only 66km so it took about an hour and a half. Tomorrow will be a similar situation, but its 100km.
In the mean time, we're staying in this awesome five star hotel that overlooks Tainan. Its all marble stuff and 20+ floors with a courtyard that goes straight up and balconies inside. It’s pretty cool. The smog and stuff is about the same. Dinner was this fifty course meal that featured Taiwan’s best... crab, fish eggs, chicken broth etc., I guess it would be pretty expensive if we had to pay. Rooms run about $250 a night. We'll see what tomorrow holds...

Day 5
9th today. 7th in the pack sprint, but 2 were up the road. Nick crashed and broke his frame but is okay. I guess he's looking to buy a new frame from Taiwan. We'll see. The race was very sketchy.

Day 6
The last two hotels have been kind of pathetic, I’m getting pretty sick of the noodles in broth- the Chinese classic. I also ran out of the budget camera's film, so I couldn't take pictures for the last couple days. The bike does work well, but the shifting and stuff I can't seem to get right. Right now were staying at the aboriginal area, its very weird in the mountains. One side is kind of mount Rainier like and the other is china like with 10ft sight distance fog, steep jungly sides with deep gullies w/ rivers in the bottom. The roads are all one lane. But the recent typhoon and earth quake of 6 yrs ago totally destroyed the sides of the mountain with landslides and rock slides etc. It was crazy in the bus and in the U.S we wouldn't have been allowed to drive on it at all.
The actual race was really long with the 10,000 feet of climbing. I would have done a lot better but I didn't eat enough and by the time I got to 4 km to go I could barely ride my bike straight, I ended up getting 3rd. That should put me in third overall for the race and I'll probably get 3rd in the end too.
I plan on getting another camera pretty soon, but I've got to find a 7-11.
I was right about the mountains too, there are areas where there is nothing. On the flats though everything's farmed, the basic rule is that if you can farm it, then you can live there. I guess there are 12 tribes of aboriginals that speak different languages and those are the ones that have mastered the art of farming on the mountain or something. They were pretty much wiped out by the typhoon and earth quake, apparently the typhoons go right over the island, wiping everything out. Aboriginals I think are Indians.

Day 9
Last day, tomorrow I go home. 3rd overall, that’s good, real good…