I left my Masi in India when Peichi and I headed to WWOOF in Italy last December till recently. As such, I’d been irritated from agitation of not riding these past few months. So when I finally made it back home to Taiwan, what do I do?
I ride about 200 miles in a week to catch up on lost times. Of course, jumping back on the saddle so quickly has left my lower back and butt bones aching.
Still, as the old adage goes, no pain, no gain and no extra dessert. So I’ll keep riding slowly beyond my prior fitness levels.
Prior to riding with Michael Turton and Jeff Miller out of Hengchun-恆春 this weekend, I warmed up with riding around Kaohsiung-高雄 over four days to get familiar with my new home town. Recently, Kaohsiung was named a top 5 city in Asia for cycling. While I’m not sure what my top 5 are, I do think Kaohsiung is an easy city to ride around with its flat, wide roads and many dedicated two-wheeler lanes.
On Friday morning, I left for Fongshan-鳳山 train station to catch the 11:54 to Fangliao-放療. However, that local train wasn’t taking bikes, except those in bags. So I waited till 13:33 for a slow express that got into Fangliao only an hour or so later than originally intended.
Once out of Fangliao and heading south on 1, I couldn’t believe how much I missed riding Taiwan’s coastlines. It’s blissful. Even while soreness rose, I couldn’t keep smiling and thinking how I feel at home riding Taiwan.
Though Fangliao is about 47 kilometers from the training hotel at Hengchun Vocational High School-國立恆春工商進修學校, the ride is fairly level, smooth and easy to roll at over 20 kph. Friday evening, Michael and Jeff drove in and prepped for riding the next few days.
For Saturday, we rode north out of Hengchun towards 199. Once on 199, we crossed the southern hills, 285 meter high, to reach the east coast beaches off of 199甲 and 26. After a quick lunch in Gangzhi-港仔, we rode 200 south and west through Manjhou-滿州 and on into Hengchun.
While stopping for a drink in Manjhou, we caught the local troops on patrol training. The sight of them made me glad to not have joined the Army. I was very fortunate to have a Humvee to carry my EOD kit in the Air Force.
Saturday late afternoon began our first of many snacks at 小杜包子, the best steamed buns I’ve ever eaten.
Come Sunday, we backtracked a bit on 200 till reaching 200甲 for Jialeshui-佳樂水. The rocky beaches of Jialeshui are a new favorite of mine. The crowds were low and local smiles big. Afterwards, we rode 26 around Taiwan’s southernmost point and through Kenting-墾丁. We stopped for lunch while in Kenting at Amy’s Cucina for pretty fair food. By the time we neared the road to ride behind nuclear plant number 3, my back was on fire and it was time for me to call it quits for the day. Michael and Jeff rode on, I road back to the hotel for a very hot shower and then a local Thai massage.
Monday morning found us braving the cloudy skies and drizzle to hike Nanrenshan-南人山 Ecological Preserve Park. A beautiful lowland forest with a 10 kilometer loop trail barely scaling 100-meters of climbing. While we only made it 3 kilometers in before the drizzle become solid, large rain drops. Still, we caught sight of monkeys, stick bugs, spiders, squirrels and many blooming flowers. It’s a beautiful walk and one I’d like to go back for completion.
A big round of thanks goes to Michael and Jeff for being patient while I rode slowly and recovered from not riding these past months. I greatly enjoyed my trip and am looking forward to the next, sans back pain.