Planned Workouts and scheduled races

Every Wednesday: Bigfoot Cycle Workout (Dali) 5:15 am
Every Saturday: Bigfoot Swim Workout (Dali) 6:00 am

8/28 Vision Bigfoot Duathlon (Qingshui) 8:00 am
9/4 Taiwan P.E. University Cup 5000m 4:00 pm
10/1 Beauty of Taidong Triathlon (Olympic Distance) 8:00 am
10/30 Gaomei Wetland Marathon (Qingshui) - (Marathon distance) 6:00 am
11/5 NeverStop West Coast Bike Race (200km) 5:00 am *
11/13 Taoyuan National Marathon (Marathon distance) - TBA 11/20 Mizono Marathon Relay
12/18 Fubon Taipei Marathon (Marathon distance) 7:00 am (Boston Marathon qualifying attempt)

* reconsidering the NeverStop race due to the date change to November, which would result in four race weekends (perhaps five if the Supau Cup is on 11/27) in a row.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Round Taichung Photo Narrative

This past Wednesday, I hit the road on my bicycle with the goal of riding through all of Taichung's 29 districts, in addition to a ride to Guguan, in one day. It was a beautiful morning when I set out, as you can see from the photo below. Seasonably warm, but not too bad with enough clouds to keep it from getting too hot, at least in the early going.

5:06 am - First district crossing as I crossed into South District on Zhongming South Road.

The first hour was spent primarily in the urban core districts, so the going was rather slow. Some of the areas were in areas I don't normally go in, so I got to see things I haven't seen in a while and some new things that are being built in the urban districts.

Looking down the Liu River in downtown Taichung

Looking out toward the mountains from Ziyou Road. The tall building is the old Jinsha Building, the sight of a tragic restaurant fire several years ago. It is still closed.

The old city-hall built during the Japanese era.

The ram from the National Latern Festival a few years ago at Taichung Park

Construction of an elevated railray section near Taiyuan station in Beitun District

Han River in Beitun District

After about fifty minutes in urban districts, I was finally getting onto some relatively open road after the Han River. I rode through to Tanzi District, then through Fengyuan, Shigang, and Dongshi districts. It was turning out to be an absolutely beautiful morning for a ride and I was able to get going pretty well once not having to deal with red lights every two minutes.
The construction of a new elevated highway in Tanzi District.

Taichung branch of the Tzu Chi Buddhist Hospital. Too bad the elevated highway is going BETWEEN the two buildings of the hospital! That's Taichung's city government for you.

Temple in the distance seen from Route 3 in Shigang District

Mountains from the Dongshi Bridge over the Dajia River along the border of Shigang and Dongshi districts

Arriving in Dongshi (one of my favorite places in the city) marked the beginning of 34 kilometers on Taiwan Route 8 up to Heping District and Guguan, known for its scenic beauty and hot spring resorts. The ride is almost entirely uphill, but not really very difficult. It is just a long ride and if you are not fit, that is more of a challenge than the actual elevation gain.

There was some light rain going up in both Dongshi and Heping. While the light rain was actually rather refreshing, I was rather concerned about the possible effect coming back down. Speed and wet on a bicycle are not a good mix.

Beware of falling rocks

Clouds floating around the mountains

Clouds in the mountains over the Dajia River

More beautiful scenery along Taiwan Route 8

I reached Guguan just after 8 in the morning after riding nearly 70 kilometers. I actually felt really good when I got up there. None the worse for wear, which was a good thing as I had the most imposing climb of the day just one hour ahead. I stopped for a short while to get some photos and stopped at a local vendor (which seemed to double as a betel nut stand and a small local restaurant) to restock on liquids (Supau and water). After taking in the scenery, off I was back down the mountain. Fortunately, the sun had come out and pretty much dried off the road so I could descend at a reasonably brisk pace.

My turnaround point after the first tunnel in Guguan. Next time I come up here, I will climb much further.

The valley from Guguan

Looking toward Xinshi from Long'an Bridge

I descended to the Long'an Bridge in Dongshi which crosses the Dajia River. This was used by Stage Five of the Tour de Taiwan earlier this spring and the mountain climb to the "down"town part of Xinshi District was the main climb of the stage. I have to say, the climb went much easier for me this time than the last time I did this climb in April. I am becoming a better climber, which is good given that it looks like I am going to do the race in Nantou next month. It did rain during the ascent and when I got to the 'KOM' marker (still painted in the road), it was a feeling of elation. The climb isn't as long as the climb to Guguan, but it is much steeper with numerous switchbacks. Fortunately, the traffic was light and the few motor vehicles I did encounter gave me plenty of space to make my attack on the mountain.

Looking up at the hill to climb and the switchbacks in the road

1 kilometer to the top of the mountain


Overlooking downtown Taichung from Xinshe District

I got into downtown Xinshe at about 9:30. After four and a half hours of riding, I was ready to eat a second breakfast, so I stopped at a local breakfast shop for a Taiwanese-style breakfast sandwich. After eating, I made my descent down into Dakeng. Again, fortune shined on me as it was not raining on this side of the mountain so I was able to descend in the dry. There was a car in front of me, so I just paced off it, keeping enough distance for safety. Fortunately, the car behind me realized what I was doing and made no effort to pass me. The descent (also used in the Tour de Taiwan) is quite technical, but if you focus on the turns ahead and not the space immediately in front of you, it is actually quite a fun descent back into Beitun District.

Taiwanese-style pork breakfast sandwich

Overlooking the river on the boundary between Beitun and Taiping districts

Coming down into Dakeng, I stayed on route 129 through Beitun and over into Taiping and Dali districts. The traffic in these part of these two districts is much less than in the more urban parts of the districts. The ride went pretty smoothly, though I had a hard time finding my road from Dali to Wufeng districts. Just by luck and asking a local, I was able to stay on the road to Jifeng Elementary school in Wufeng and make the turn toward Wuri district and what I would come to call the "Southern Cross" from the mountainous eastern part of the city to the western side nearer the coast.

In Wufeng, I stopped at a betel nut stand to get some water and Supau. These places are great for cyclists as we don't have to worry about our bicycles. I was at a small locally-run grocery a minute earlier but he wouldn't let me take my bicycle in with me like most convenience stores do (and I had decided that I would avoid the convenience stores as much as possible on this ride to support local businesses) so I stopped at the roadside stand a minute later to refill on liquids.

A narrow road in Dali District which, while the correct road, almost caused me to get lost.

The same elevated highway under construction from earlier, this stretch in Wufeng District

World War II-vintage tanks under the Taichung-Changhua expressway in Wuri District. Pointed the wrong way though -- they should be pointed toward the west.

After the "Southern Cross" I made my way over to Taiwan Route 1 (I know, Michael Turton would kill me for this decision) and made my way through Dadu and Longjing districts, in both cases veering off route one to go through the downtown sections of the districts. By the time I got into Dadu, it was getting pretty hot. I had put on some sunscreen in Wuri and it was getting a bit uncomfortable. Then, some light rain in Dadu which cooled things off just enough to help out. Slow going due to lights, but was feeling pretty good. I proceeded to through through Shalu and Qingshui (the sight of a duathlon I will run next month) to go to Dajia district in the northwest part of the city.

I was looking for a local shop to buy some more water and Supau, but seeing none, I had to break down and stop at a 7-11 for re-supply in Qingshui District.

Welcoming sign to Longjing District - the first character in the district name means 'Dragon', hence the dragon motif

Leafy greens in Shalu District (ignore the pink clouds - color on my camera was messing up)

Bridge to Dajia District over the Dajia River

Fieldside temple guarding the crops in Da'an District

From Dajia District, I took a side road over to the northwestern-most district in the city, the rural Da'an District. I saw several small fieldside temples which are common in rural areas of Taiwan to protect the fields. Along with Mazu and other spirits that help sea-farers, such spirits are very important to the traditions of Taiwan and its rural populace.

Bowl of noodles in Dajia district

I then rode back into Dajia. It was about 1:30 and I was ready to eat. I wanted fried noodles, but I was having a hard time finding it. I found a little local shop next to the train station and while the bowl above is not exactly what I was looking for, it was actually quite good. Anyway, I love fresh noodles. Just keep those instant noodles from 7-11 away from me thank you very much.

By the time I finished lunch, it had started raining lightly outside. This was not unexpected, but at 2:00, it was a bit earlier than it had started the past few days. I was hoping it was stay light for a while, at least until I got down the ridge in Houli after climbing it in Waipu. Looking toward the east, I say that wasn't likely and then as I entered Waipu, I heard thunder and saw lightning. I put my camera in the plastic bag I brought and prepared for the worst. About half way up the hill in Waipu, the heavens simply opened up. It wasn't raining 'cats and dogs', it was more like 'blue whales and large dinosaurs'. We have had some intense storms the past few days, but I think this was the most intense storm of the year so far. It didn't affect the climb at all but once I finished the climb and crossed into Houli, I had to be careful on the descent. No problems and made it to Taiwan Route 13 to begin the final push for home.

Sign for Waipu District

Rain on Houjia (Houli-Dajia) Road just after passing into Houli District

In reality, rain doesn't bother me all that much, especially at this time of year. I was more worried about the slippery white lines and the effect of the rain on my brakes more than on me, personally. I did limit my picture taking, though, as I really did not want to take my digital camera out of the bag.

I proceeded southward back to Taichung on Taiwan Route 13, but I had to take a short detour once I got to Fengyuan. I took Fengyuan Avenue over to Taiwan Route 10 to get in two more districts - Shen'gang District and Daya District - before getting onto Taiwan Route 1-C back into the old urban part of the city to finish my ride. By the time I got into Daya, the rain had stopped again. Even though I had ridden more than 200km at this point, I was feeling pretty good. The only thing that kept me from picking up the pace at this point was the wet roads.

The new city hall in Xitun District

I got into Xitun District and road past the new City Hall. It opened up last December with the merger of the city and county into a "provincial (sic)-level municipality" (not going into the political implications of that here). I haven't been inside it yet, but from the outside, it looks pretty impressive.

I then got onto Wenxin Road to get in my last district, and while it was a little out of the way, you have to get the Wanhe Temple into any historical itinary of the city, so I took the short ride down there. Just as I crossed Shizheng Road into Nantun, it started pouring again. Didn't bother me at all. I was already soaked anyway and it wasn't like I was going to push the pace in this part of the city.

Wanhe Temple in one of the oldest parts of the city. Great for history buffs like myself.

As I was approaching the Wanhe Temple, I heard an explosion behind me as I was waiting for the light at Nantun Road. I knew an IED wasn't exactly likely, but was able to identify what it was immediately on looking back. Some local eatery's stove had just exploded. Smoke was billowing out from it. While it scared the crap out of me, I am sure it was more startling to the proprietor of the business. Fortunately, based on how he was frantically putting out the smoke, he seemed perfectly all right.

After getting a shot of the temple, I rode home. I made my obligatory stop at Mr. Wish to get some delicious, fresh, Taiwanese green tea.

230.5 kilometers; 29 districts; total time: 11 hours 40 minutes

On this trip, I got so see some areas I had not been to before. The two districts I had never been to before (Waipu and Da'an) saw their first visit by yours truly. For all of my complaints of the local government, I love Taichung and its people. As always, I met wonderful people on the entire trip. The scenery, especially in the mountains, was first class. Really a wonderful day which I punctuated with a 2 1/2-hour nap after getting home.


  1. Fantastic ride and great photos. What a wonderful idea!


  2. I love themed rides. This is great!