Sunday 22 August 6am saw 3000 cyclists in teams of five each set out from Taichung city’s neighboring town of Feng Yuan. Organized by Taichung county government, the morning’s ride was divided into two different routes: 100km for more seasoned riders and 65km for those looking for a less intense morning’s activity. I was planning to get Google Maps into the post to give readers a better idea of where exactly all this took place, but couldn’t get it to work for me.
The event was announced and advertised as a “competition”, but most participants treated it more as a fun group event. At the end of the day, one group did win. There were two checkpoints along the way, and all team members had to be present at the same time to get a stamp on their number.
For the competitive teams, the goal was to have team members all of similar ability. For other teams, the stronger members could set a faster pace on each stage and wait up at the checkpoint for slower team members, where bananas, rice snacks and energy drinks were available, along with great opportunities to compare experiences and thoughts on the day with cyclists from other teams.
The 100km route was originally to include a very challenging climb of 4km of 8%. But in the several days just prior to the event, the route was changed to a less steep climb. It was probably a good decision, because the descent down the other side is very steep, with deceptive curves that start out quite shallow but hook round sharply when you’re half way round — not being able to take any of these might see you go over a precipice!
I was supporting two groups of riders along with my niece, Angela, who was taking photos from the passenger seat of the car. The A-team were the stronger group; ages ranged from 16 (the “kid”) to 51. Here’s a record of our morning on the road.
The day started out quite gloomy, although as the morning wore on, the low cloud lifted, but not before delivering 8.5 drops of rain as warning of nature’s ability to change the game completely. Nature smiled on us after the reminder, and we were good for the day.
Riders gathering for the start at 6am. Guess who was one of the major sponsors for the day!
Ambulances were ready to go, and, as is always the case, they were kept fairly busy with riders having mishaps in several locations along the route.
The media were there to cover the event, mainly the party that would begin later in the day when the bulk of riders had finished their event, around 11am.
One of many ladies to take part. She’s looking lean, trim…and not at all concerned about the sun — many others were completely covered up, even at this early part of the day.
I even spotted one lady heading out on one of my original GP1 women’s road-bike.
Riders nearing the top of the first climb 20 km into the event. However . . .
. . . members of the A-team (faster of the two teams) I supported for the day, seen here in the aqua/blue/white jerseys (middle picture) were right on the pace early on. Check this nice professionally taken photo of the team on Facebook.
The “coach” was having a good time. He was in the second group, only because he is not so into climbing. On the flat he goes like the wind. But with a good deal of climbing in today’s event, he settled for the second team.
Two of the team leading a group of riders heading toward the second hill.
A-Wei moving into the slope in fine form.
On the top, participants run along a ridge for 2km or so towards the descent. Here the leading two riders of my supported group are setting a cracking pace.
They were moving really quickly, so once Angela and I had set up for some snaps, so sooner had the guys passed that we had to quickly get on the road again to get ahead and set up for another photo. But this meant no time to pee and no time for coffee (we were up at 4.15am this morning)! Anyhow, without the second the first was not all that much of a problem.
The guys at the 65km mark setting a great pace towards the third and last hill.
Having done the climb the group has broken up a bit, but its our 16yr old prodigy, the “Kid” leading the way on his green Festino into the second and final checkpoint. I stayed behind to look out for the second of our groups leaving the A-team to coast through to the finish.
You-Zheng aka “the Kid”, fast tracking the replacement of those lost calories.
On the state, kids entertain the crowd.
The childrens’ performances were really something to see:
The kids here are singing a song in the Hakka language, one of the main ethnic groups making up Taiwan’s diverse population.
Meantime, anyone not checking out the performances is discussing the ride.
We did it! “Yeah…of course…” comments the Kid (on our left), “you guys….sheeesh”
Food stalls on the right . . .
. . .and left.
There was plenty of shade and even though it was slightly overcast, without this, the day would have been really uncomfortable.
No shortage of quality bikes . . .
. . . at all!
I think that probably nobody attempted the route on this little cutie.
There were quite a few people on “mini” bikes, although road bikes were the overwhelming majority. It would have been a great day for the rider of this Birdy.
And one gentleman went round on this sturdy “old” number.
Two companies whose products I make extensive use of had stands.
Even the army took the opportunity to perhaps attract some recruits.
The two groups’ bikes and, except for one or two “other” brands, a fairly homogenous collection.
In sum, it was a great day. Everyone completed the 100k route fairly easily and are looking forward to the next event. As we head into the Fall, lots will be happening. Not least is the Taiwan Cycling Festival from 16 October – 24 October 2010. This will involve several community rides as well as some very serious racing.
When you take to the road for your next cycling adventure, stay safe and enjoy yourself!