Yang Ming Mountain Adventure

It is worth getting early starts for riding, especially epic riding like Yangming Mountain in Taipei. I think Taipei offers one of the best road riding in the world (once you leave the hub-bub of the city). You have brilliant long 16km plus climbs traversing through stunning scenery and because it was still early morning, you can hear the numerous birds chirping away (Yangming Mountain is also famous for birdwatching).

I zipped through the Taipei streets at 6am with Simon from Champion System Racing who happened to be going in the same direction but going to meet a different group. I met up with a group of expats from different backgrounds (Law, software development, education, teaching, editing, etc) and enjoyed a leisurely ride over Yang Ming Mountain with plenty of stops to re-group. I did get in several decent 5-10min efforts in different sections of the climb. I was amazed at the sheer numbers of Taiwanese out riding in the mountains, many of them sporting popular Pro-Tour team gear (Liquidas, Quick-step, Discovery, Astana, CSC, Francaise Des Juex, you name it, it was out there!). There were even several World Champion Jersey’s spotted on the climbs, but most of their climbing abilities did not match the jersey’s that were worn! The 7-11 store in Jinshan does extremely good business over the weekends as a refuelling station for riders heading back over the mountain (the same way) or going via coastal towns back to Taipei.

After hanging out at this 7-11 watching all the flash bikes and gear (but not the bodies to match) we took a quieter route back up Yang Ming Mountain (up Highway 7) and the roads were narrower, less cars and significantly less cyclists too. Unfortunately, halfway up this climb, my rear wheel punctured due to a hole in a one month old non-Michelin worn tire I was given during my Epic Ride in Taiwan. My USANA Oatmeal Raisin bar wrapper came to the rescue to act as a buffer between the hole in the tyre and the new tube I installed. A similar story can be read on A New Use for an Old Wrapper.

During the 5 minutes I took to change tubes etc, we noticed a dead completely flattened snake that can be viewed in the photo with my Selle SMP Saddle. I thought it was quite fastinating to see a snake like this!

The last 10mins of the 17.5km climb was done at an average power of 335 watts with a cadence of 65 and an average torque 27. It was quite a steep section to finish at the summit and I noticed how people were struggling to climb through it (some were even walking up) and thought it would be a good idea to write up some tips on climbing in my next blog posting. Once everyone re-grouped at the top, we hung out to enjoy cold drinks at the summit top outdoor cafe before riding down another fast 17km decent back into Taipei. If you are a confident bike handler, you can enjoy riding the super technical decent (with a few quite steep sections) but once you catch traffic it is hard to pass due to the narrow road.

I had made it back to the city and was on my last 10km stretch back home, when I punctured yet again! This time, I had no spare tube and was without cash. Was trying to figure out how to get home after being out all day, it was now 3.30pm. My actual riding time was almost 4.5 hours for just over 90kms but somehow with all the stops on the mountain including the coffee stops, it became a 10 hour day! I thought about rimming it all the way back home, but decided against it and made it to the nearby Shilin MRT Subway Station to try and get on the train without money! I was immediately approached by a guard who informed me in Chinese that I could not bring the bike in, but can go to the next station to take bike on MRT. I explained my situation to the guard, telling him that I could not ride the bike and if I put the bike into plastic bags it would be ok to get on. I also told him that I did not have my MRT card with me and about the possibility of getting on with no-charge or pay later. He called the manager of the station and she was quite adament that I would not be able to get on. I kept jabbering at her in my Chinese to explain as best as I could and when she saw that I could take both my wheels off quite easily, she got me some big clear plastic bags (one for the wheels and the other for the frame) and then she got me a ticket to which she told me that next time I passed through the station, I would have to pay $25NT. I was then escorted by the guard up the elevator to the platform, and it turned out that he was also a cyclist and was asking me questions about where I went today etc. I ended up becoming friends with the guard and exchanging contact details.
put my bike into plastic bags I can take it on the train
Overall statistics for the day:
  • 91kms
  • 4hrs 23mins
  • Average power 151 watts
  • Best 10min power was 337 watts (4.1w/kg)
  • Two major mountain peaks – 17km each – total climbing 32kms
  • Used up 2337 calories for the day only had 1 x banana, 1 x Oatmeal Raisin Bar, 2 x REV 3 Surge drinks, 2 x bottles of water, 1 x coke, and 2 x Hammer Gels for the 10 hour day. I was pretty hungry by the time I got home!