For the last couple months any cycling I’ve done has completely been limited to my commute to and from work. This morning, I managed to change this recent streak with a trip along the Caotun Bike Route [草屯鎮自行車道]. The first portion of the trip was up to the Pingding Sacred Tree [坪頂神木]. Usually there are cyclists resting on the benches near the tree. This time I felt lonely being the only one there, so after sitting a couple minutes and a few sips of Super Supau I was on my way.
I was off to an early start on Sunday morning. I met up with my riding partner at a nearby 7-11 for an adventure into Jhongliao Township [中寮鄉]. Jhongliao is located east of Nantou City [南投市] and north of Jiji Township [集集鎮]. Most of my rides in Jhongliao begin with a steep but manageable climb to Pingding [坪頂]. After wrapping up the climb, we stopped at the Pingding Sacred Tree; A massive camphor tree believed to be over 1,600 years old. It’s tranquil and quiet, making it my favorite spot to stop when traveling in this direction. The only sounds were those of our conversation with a ham radio enthusiast we met on the climb up and that of a nearby resident’s dustpan hitting an object. My riding partner had plans for the rest of the day, so he turned back down the hill from which we came while I traveled in the other direction towards northern Jhongliao.
A couple weekends ago, I met up with Taichung City slickers Michael T. and Drew K. to go shopping for a new bike. After checking out T-Mosaic and a Specialized shop we were off to 185 Warehouse in Dakeng. There I test rode one of their house brand [Generation 2 Cycles (G2C)] bicycles – an aluminum alloy frame with carbon chainstays, fork, and seatpost outfitted with SRAM Apex. I talked to the product manager James Murray, who is one of only six people I’ve ever met in Taiwan that’s taller than me and he told me they had a large frame available, in the color of my choice, and could outfit it with SRAM Apex for under $45,000 NT.
Usually before I go cycling I’ve already decided several days ahead of time where I’ll be going. Today was different. I hadn’t decided where I would be going as I finished breakfast this morning. I got on my bike and headed in the direction of the Pingding Sacred Tree, as there are many choices of routes available once there. I felt a rumbling in my stomach, so turned around to go to the big 7-11 on Zhongzheng Rd. This particular 7-11 rates high in terms of clean restrooms. Had it not been for the unexpected bout of abdominal bloating, I probably would have gone to the Pingding Sacred Tree and come back through Jhongliao like I usually do.
After leaving 7-11 I decided to head in the direction of Baguashan [八卦山]. I entertained the idea of cycling to Changhua and ascending Baguashan from the Giant Buddha Statue one of my six year old students can’t stop talking about.
The farming community of Nanpu [南埔] on the lowlands while the unmistakable Ninety-Nine Peaks [九九峰] are visible in the center-right [View the large edition of the panorama].
Sunday morning’s weather was gray, cloudy, and drizzling. I headed in the direction of Nanpu because the skies over Baguashan [八卦山] looked a little more threatening. The climb up was the same as the previous visit. Instead of turning off the for the steep bike path down, I continued till my first rest stop – the Pingding Sacred Tree [坪頂神木].