The annual Merida Cup is on this weekend and involves a 7.8 km dash to a hilltop finish. On Saturday I met up with some friends who were doing training for the event on the really steep part of the hill. This post is mainly about an awesome custom bike that one of them was riding. But it was an interesting morning generally, so I’ll give an overview first.
Taichung’s winter sun makes cycling more pleasant for cyclists since you can get out there all day. In summer you are restricted to very early to mid-morning at the latest, or the late afternoon. That’s also fine, but having the whole day well within a reasonable comfort zone makes the November-April period a time to look forward to each year. It makes training for an event like this quite convenient.
If you blink, you might miss it. But ahead just off County Route 137 is the race venue.
Today cyclists were hanging out at the base of the climb at the local temple. Many of these guys belong to the very strong Cycling Action Team. They are spending the whole morning doing hill repeats and will be very finely tuned for next week’s event.
Leaving the temple you turn right for the first part of the climb.
Not far ahead you reach the main climb. Right turn.
“You are here” and the sprint to the top is all in front of you.
A Merida-sponsored favorite for the event attacking the hill. An awesomely strong climber over this distance.
One of the Action Cycling Team members returns from one more run.
One of my own team cyclists gave it shot for the first time. Coming down is harder than going up due to the gradient. So he was very, very cautious on the descent, not least for having crashed elsewhere a few weeks ago. The rough concrete surface of this road would give anyone who fell a really nasty dose of road rash.
There were quite a few lady cyclists getting in some training for the event as well.
Mr. Shen, whose bike we will now have a look at enjoyed a quick run up and down.
“Feeling good and I’m ready for next week”
“My bike? Yeah, it weighs 5.8kg…come and feel it for yourself…” We all did and marvelled. The frame is aluminum alloy 9005 which I had never heard of in frame manufacturing before. It was made by one of the biggest frame manufacturing companies around, one that moved across to China many years ago.
My company engineers had never heard of this either and cautioned as to the strength and durability. Mr. Shen will be doing a bit of riding with us into the future so I guess we will see.
Crankset: SRAM Red Compact 30/50. He tackles the hills, anything over 3-4% for a sustained distance, on the low ratio at a high cadence. Mr. Shen is an engineer although spends most of his time as a cycling coach, and has a low opinion of lycra cycling shorts…
Mr. Shen has also completely custom-designed wheelset. He had manufactured according to his own specs.
The spoke count for the rear is 24. The front, 20. He has an alloy version but these were the low-profile carbon model. He has a patent pending on the wheel hubs which utilize very high-grade bearings, and is looking towards mass manufacture, but is being very cautious, since he worries that the design will be quickly copied.
“Hey…there’s an eagle!”
“Cyclists! Whatever . . .”
I won’t have any of my cycling team at the Merida Cup event this Saturday since we opted for the annual Yang Ming Shan 75km challenge in Taipei which will be held the next day. It’s an event with more variation and is a great endurance test. The weather looks like it could be ok–rain will make it miserably cold and treacherous. Taiwan’s north lacks the consistent pleasant weather characteristic of the Central and Southerly regions during the winter.
Mr. Shen and the guys went for a 105km tour of Taichung and Nantou on Sunday, in which he substituted his custom carbon wheelset with its alloy equivalent. The route took in Route 136 and White Whisker Mountain and so involved plenty of climbing in readiness for next Sunday’s Mt. Yang Ming challenge.