I joined the Columbus Team last week for some good training miles. They had at least 50 riders out on the group ride that leaves from the Giant Bike Shop on Zhong Zheng Road at 7.30am every Sunday. This was my second time with this group, read my account of the first: #mce_temp_url#.
The riders were mostly in yellow, signifying the club level while about 15-20 riders were wearing the blue uniforms representing the elite team. The Columbus Cycling Team is one of the teams with the biggest presence and boasts some of the strongest riders in Taipei. If you choose to ride with the elite riders, this group is probably the fastest group ride in Taipei. So if you are looking for a good fast ride, then look no further than the Columbus Team. Unlike most Taiwanese riders, they do not waste alot of time in cafes and you should be home before mid-day depending on how long they go for. They mainly use the 7-11 stores to refuel and also to re-group.
The team is run by Sean Huang, former Taiwanese National Champion in the early 90s and he also holds the record for Shooters Hill, a super quick 9min 45secs over the 4km drag to the top. It has been standing since 1992 and the other rider who has come close to breaking it is Exustar’s Feng Chun Kai (also the current track champion and represented Taiwan at the Beijing 2008 Games. His best time is 9min 58secs. I managed to achieve my best time up there last weekend and its almost 2mins slower at 11.37!
Sean Huang now runs a successful Giant Bike Store in Tian Mu near the start of Zhongzheng Road, and opposite a second outlet of Velo Boutique. The store contains mid to high-end bikes in road, XC, downhill, triathlon and leisure catagories. I was in the bike shop a couple of days ago and was impressed with the selection of bikes and parts on display. Everything is sold at reasonable prices and their staff speak very good English. Sean Huang himself also speaks very good English and if you can catch him whilst he is there, he is a good person to talk to about riding and racing in Taiwan.
The Columbus Elite guys (about 20 of them) did 3 x 6km hill climb intervals after the Jinshan 7-11 stop and I did 2 of the intervals with them before heading home as I had already done some miles with the earlier Taipei American School ride and the total for the day was 160kms and more than 4,000Kjs burned! I rode back over the mountain into Taipei City with Sean Huang – it was a chance meeting since I was already on my own and taking photographs when he comes whizzing by. He talked about his plans for the Columbus Racing Team and is hoping to raise their status so that they can compete in the UCI races around Asia including the 2011 Tour de Taiwan.