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Ride Your Age

I picked up a birthday “tradition” while living in The Netherlands.  Ride Your Age.  In most cases, this means a ride length equal to or longer than your chronological age.  My Duch cycling friends added a maximum speed equal to or faster than your chronological age to the mix.

It sounded like a good idea ten years ago.  Less so now.  There will come a time when the ever-increasing miles required turns this tradition into a fool’s errand.  Nevertheless, I set out on a solo ride this morning to ride my age in miles.  This was my first chance for a ride since my birthday last week.

The route which started in Bukit Jalil was a mix of motorcycle lanes, main roads and quieter back streets.

Ride your Age Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

To make sure I covered the necessary miles for my age I took a little detour from Bandar Rimbayu to Bandar Saujana Putra.  All those lakes are disused tin mining pools.  In the 1880s Malaya as it was then was the largest tin producer in the world.  As late as 1979 Malaysia was still producing 30% of the world’s tin.

Much of the mining was done by floating dredges.  The chain of buckets on the front scooped up the tin-bearing soil, which then passed through an oscillating drum and a system of jigs and screens to extract the tin, before spewing out the waste material at the rear end through a number of chutes.

Tin Dredge

The heydey of the tin dredge has passed.  Tin prices collapsed in 1985 and the tin mining industry in Malaysia went into terminal decline.  The ponds which were left behind have become prime real estate spots.  My guess is that in five years a photograph taken from this spot will show waterfront homes lining this pool.

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The morning stayed overcast so I had a very pleasant ride.  I rode back to Bandar Rimbayu and then followed the usual route to Jenjarom.  From Jenjarom I rode along Jalan Klang – Banting for 15km / 9mi to the junction with the KESAS Highway.  I got back onto the motorcycle lane all the way back to Bukit Jalil.

As a bonus, I hit my age in kilometres per hour too.  There is a one kilometre stretch in Subang Jaya (see the top centre of the route above) which has an average gradient of -1.6%.  The slope certainly helps.  This is also the location of a major highway exit.  You come off the motorcycle lane and ride for that kilometre amongst five lanes of traffic.  The resulting adrenaline boost helps with top speed too!

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Another year.  Another Ride Your Age in the bag.

Taiwan Ti Bike Pickup Trip: Day 4

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Wednesday was a wet day.  Not a day for riding a bike.  But a good day to be in the Nangang Exhibition Centre for the Taipei International Cycle Show.

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The show featured 1,150 exhibitors displaying their newest products spread over 65,000 square meters on floors 1, 4 and 5 of the Exhibition Centre.

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Photograph courtesy of bicycleretailer.com

Wednesday was the first day of the show, reserved for trade visitors.  We all had International Visitor passes, courtesy of Pegasus Cycles.

Day 4 Pegasus

It was impossible to give attention to every booth.  There was too much to see in the space of one morning.

It was a working visit for CK, Daniel and Sulaiman from Pegasus Cycles.  As it was for Ben and Douglas from Specialized Concept Store Bangsar.  They were at the show to visit their suppliers and to look out for possible new products to sell.

In the case of the guys from Pegasus, this included visiting Alessandro Basso of Basso Bikes, and the representatives from Hawkvi and Ridea.

By lunchtime, the rest of us were done window shopping.  Some of us had even convinced exhibitors to sell some of their products to us.  Which strictly speaking, they weren’t supposed to do.

We had worked up an appetite.  Lunch was at the oddly-named Addiction Aquatic Development, which is located in Taipei’s Fish Market.  It is a seafood wholesaler which caters to the general public as well.

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Photograph courtesy of tripadvisor.co.uk

There is fresh seafood.

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And a variety of prepared or cooked items.

Day 4 AAD 1

Photograph courtesy of purlou.com

 

We had a feast.

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That meal marked the end of our group activities.  That afternoon some left Taipei for other points in Taiwan.  The exodus back to Kuala Lumpur started the next day.

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I’m happy to report that all the Dodsun Ti bikes arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur.

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Heartfelt thanks to Pai and Xiao Ger for the planning and logistics and to all the R@SKLs and others whose excellent company and good humour made this such an enjoyable trip.

I’m sure we will be back for more.

Day 4 View

Photograph courtesy of bubbascyclingtours.com

Taiwan Ti Bike Pickup Trip: Day 3

Day 3 Route

Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

The Just Sleep Hotel has a Japanese feel to it.  There are Japanese-style rooms where the beds are low, and the robes are in the style of kimonos.

Day 3 Bed

That Japanese-ness extends to timekeeping.  A few of us were downstairs for breakfast a few minutes before 7.00am.  Everything looked ready,  but we weren’t allowed in until 7.00am.

It was worth the wait though.  The breakfast at Just Sleep is very good.

Day 3 Breakfadt Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

We had hoped to start riding at 8.00am.  W didn’t get away until 8.30am.  Perhaps the kaoliang drunk the evening before had something to do with it.

Our first stop was just 8km / 5mi away at the Lanyang Museum.  The design of this museum about the local area was inspired by the cuestas (hills or ridges with a gentle slope on one side, and a steep slope on the other) commonly seen along the Beiguan Coast. The building emerges from the ground in a similar fashion to those cuestas.

Day 3 Lanyang Museum Huey-Ling

Photograph courtesy of Liew Huey-Ling

It is a stunning building.

Day 3 Lanyang Museum Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

6km / 4mi further on we came to Wai’ao Beach.  It was a very windy morning and the waves were crashing onto the rocks.

Day 3 Waiao Beach 2 CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Day 3 Waiao Beach 4 Douglas Jackson

Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

Day 3 Waiao Beach 1 CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

We hugged the coast riding north for a total of 30km / 18mi.

Day 3 Coast Douglas

Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

We left the Binhai Road at that point and entered the Old Caoling Tunnel.  The tunnel was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway.

The tunnel is about 2km / 1.2mi long and is decorated with mock railroad tracks on the ground.

Day 3 Old Caoling Tunnel 1 Douglas

Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

I didn’t notice this as I was riding through the tunnel (I was preoccupied with how cold it was) but there is an underground border crossing between Yilan County and New Taipei City.

Day 3 Old Caoling Tunnel 2 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

A few kilometres from the New Taipei City end of the tunnel is Fulong Station.

Day 3 Fulong Station 1 CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

That was our last chance to buy food and drink and to use a restroom before our first climb of the day.  About 500 metres / 1,640 feet of elevation over 10km / 6mi.

The tables and chairs behind us belong to a restaurant.  The 7-Eleven at Fulong Station provided us with this step!

Day 3 Fulong Station 7-Eleven CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

We crossed the Shuang River four times on the way to the fifth crossing at Shuangxi.  That fifth crossing of the Shuang River marked the start of our climbing up to Buyanting.

Day 3 Climb 2 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Day 3 Climb 3 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Day 3 Climb 4 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

At the summit is this pavilion.

Day 3 Pavilion

It is known as the “Not Tired Of” pavilion, in reference to a poem in which the poet Li Bai says he is not tired of the view of Shuangxi District.

Day 3 Pavilion View CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Day 3 View 1

We stayed a long time enjoying the view (and catching our breath.

Day 3 Pavilion 2 CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Day 3 Pavilion 3 CK

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Day 3 Pavilion 6 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Lunch at Jiufen was next of the agenda.  Thankfully it is mostly downhill to Jiufen.

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With a stop at the Shumeiping Lookout Point.

Day 3 Shumeiping Lookout Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Jiufen is known for the narrow alleyways of its old town, packed with teahouses, street-food shacks and souvenir shops.  The town has a history as a mining hub during the Japanese-era gold rush.

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After a lunch of beef noodle soup and dessert of taro balls and tau fu fah (beancurd jelly) it was time to head off to the second, and steeper, climb of the day.  We had a 7km / 4.3mi downhill run before the left turn onto Jing’an Road.

Our goal was the Wufenshan Meteorological Radar Observatory, 12.2km / 7.6mi away and 673 metres / 2,208 feet upwards.  The intermediate goal was to get to the Wufenshan Gate, which is 4.5km / 2.8mi from the observatory.  Xiao Ger would not be able to drive our support van beyond that point.

Day 3 Climb 5 Rabbit KS

Photograph courtesy of Rabbit KS

Day 3 Climb

The climb to the Wufenshan Gate averages 5.4%.  From the gate to the meteorological observatory it ramps up slightly to average 6.0%.

Day 3 Wufenshan 9

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan 10

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan 11

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan 12

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan 13

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan 7 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan 8 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

The last few kilometres were a real slog.  Fortunately, the meteorological observatory becomes visible from about 2 kilometres away.  Having the final destination in sight definitely helped.

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Delighted to have made it all the way to the top!

Day 3 Wufenshan Top 7 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan Top 8 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

The view was quite spectacular.

Day 3 Wufenshan View

None of us hung around very long enjoying the view though.  The sun was setting and the wind had picked up.  It was 14°C / 57°F up there and we were damp and not dressed for the cold.  It was a fun but very chilly hairpin descent to the Wufenshan Gate.

We had planned to end our ride 6km / 4mi or so further down the road at Shifen but the cold and increasing gloom of the evening put paid to that plan.  We waited at the gate for the last of the riders coming down from the observatory.

Day 3 Wufenshan Gate 3 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan Gate 4 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan Gate 5 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Day 3 Wufenshan Gate 6 Daniel

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Once everyone was back at the gate we loaded up the vans (we had a second van just for this last road journey) and drove back to the City Suites – Beimen in Taipei.

Day 3 Wufenshan Vans Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

The first order of business after arriving in Taipei, even before taking a shower, was to pack bicycles into bike cases.

Only then did we take showers and polish ourselves up for a Japanese-influenced traditional Taiwanese dinner.  Don’t ask me what that means.  All I can tell you is that every one of the thirteen dishes that Pai ordered was delicious.  We were so hungry that no one took photographs of the food before diving in!

There was more shopping to be done by some after dinner.  It was all I could do to stay awake during the taxi ride back to the hotel.

Taiwan Ti Bike Pickup Trip: Day 2

 

Day 2 Route (2)

Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

The morning started with an early run for some energetic ones.

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Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

The first effort of the day for the rest of us was a gentle stroll.to find breakfast.

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Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

We were ready to start riding at about 8.30am.  It was a very short distance to the bike path along the left bank of the Tamsui River.  We rode a very windy 20km / 12mi along the river to Bitan.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

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Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

We had a short stop under the Formosa Freeway at Bitan for restrooms.

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Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

I spent the time adjusting the handlebars on Simon’s bike.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

2km / 1.2mi we stopped at a 7-Eleven to refill bottles.  I needed a restroom, which this 7-Eleven did not have.  I had to make my restroom stop at a police station a kilometre up the road.

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Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

We were on the Beiyi Road headed east toward our first climb of the day.

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Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

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Photograph courtesy of Douglas Jackson

We had three climbs to get over.

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Graphic courtesy of Ride with GPS

The first one had the most elevation.  It took us from just above sea level to 544 metres / 1,785 feet.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

In the valley after the first climb was the Tea Aroma Restaurant in Pinglin.  Our lunch stop.  Pinglin is noted for producing Pouchong tea.  One of our lunch dishes was tea-smoked chicken.

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Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Attacked post-lunch outside the restaurant!

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Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

The Jingualiao River runs behind the restaurant.  That is the Pinglin suspension footbridge in the background.

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Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

The road bridge across the river marked the start of our next climb.

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

That second climb was the baby of the three hills.  After an 80 metre / 262 foot descent, it was straight up to the next summit, on the boundary between New Taipei City and Yilan County.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

At the summit of the last climb.  Taipei-Yilan Boundary Park.

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Photograph courtesy of Xiao Ger

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Photograph courtesy of Xiao Ger

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It was downhill all the way from the Boundary Park.  Including this 8km / 5mi multiple hairpin descent which drops 327 metres / 1,072 feet.

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Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

Ready to zip down the hairpins.

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

The view was stunning.  Which made it difficult to stay focused on the sharp turns ahead.  And we needed to stay alert.  Some of us almost ran into the back of a street-cleaning truck as we exited one sharp curve.

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Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

That descent was the perfect adrenaline rush to end the day!  I think most of us were still buzzing over the last 4km / 2.5 mi to the Just Sleep Hotel in Jiaoxi.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

We took a “we made it” group photograph.

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Then stowed our bikes in the hotel basement.

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Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Jiaoxi is famous for its hot springs. As expected the Just Sleep hotel has hot pools.

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Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

What I didn’t expect was that each room has a hot tub as well.  I opted for a soak in the tub in my room.  I didn’t have far to go from the tub to my bed when it was nap time

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After we had all soaked and napped, it was dinner time in a local restaurant.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

Thanks to Xiao Ger, the proceedings were livened up by a bottle of kaoliang. a strong liquor made from fermented sorghum.

Kaoliang

Anyone who had some of this 58-proof firewater slept well that night!

But before any thoughts of sleep were entertained, we stopped at Yih Shun Shiuan.  This is a very popular bakery.  It is always crowded.  People are tempted to enter the shop by all the free samples of cakes. Which are good.  Most of our group left the shop with at least one purchase.

Pai bought two panna cotta rolls for us to share back at the hotel.  Xiao Ger had also bought some custard apples for us to try.

Dessert and conversation on the terrace.  A very pleasant way to end the evening.

Day 2 Terrace

Taiwan Ti Bike Pickup Trip: Day 1

Every R@SKLs trip is a combination of riding and eating.  This trip was no different.  Sunday morning started with breakfast in a shop just down the road from the City Suites Beimen.  Our hotel in Taipei.

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Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Those who had arrived the day before and Xiao Ger then went on a ride along Taipei’s outstanding bike path system.  These wide and smooth paths put many of the streets and roads in many other countries to shame.

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Photograph courtesy of Liew Huey-Ling

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Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

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Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

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Photograph courtesy of Xiao Ger

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Photograph courtesy of Liew Huey-Ling

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Photograph courtesy of Liew Huey-Ling

CK, Daniel, Rabbit and I arrived at 2.00pm on Sunday.  Xiao Ger had driven to the airport in his bib shorts after the ride to pick us up.  He had to wait while CK sorted out a small problem with his suitcase.

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He was offered a replacement suitcase, which he accepted.  The catch was that he had to surrender his damaged bag.  That meant unpacking and repacking on the floor of the baggage reclaim area.

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The first thing we did after checking in to the hotel was to get something to eat.  There is a Mos Burger 200 metres from the hotel.

Meanwhile, the ladies were shopping.

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Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

As soon as we knew where they were, a number of orders were messaged from Mos Burger!

After dinner, it was on to the key task of assembling bikes.  Ben and Douglas had arrived at the hotel by then.  Which meant we had four good bike mechanics in the group.

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Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

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Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Assembly done, half of the group went to a night market for supper.

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

The reports were that these prawns were as delicious as they looked.

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Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

Happy diners.

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Photograph courtesy of Benedict Lee

Hopefully, everyone got a good night’s sleep.  The hills were waiting!

Taiwan Ti Bike Pickup Trip: Prologue

Taipei

Photograph courtesy of http://www.soarlegs.com

Dodsun is a Taiwanese OEM bike frame manufacturer.  One of their products is a relaxed geometry road bike in titanium.  What makes this bike stand out is the build.  The groupset is SRAM Red 22 eTap with hydraulic disc brakes.  The seatpost, saddle, stem and handlebars are Ritchey.  The wheels are Ritchey WCS Zeta.

What makes this bike REALLY stand out is the price.  Approximately USD3,100 as specified above.  In effect, you get a free frame with the SRAM Red eTap hydraulic disc brake groupset.

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Pai was the first R@SKL to buy one and bring it to Kuala Lumpur early in the year.  After a test ride, Mark bought one.  Alfred, Jimmy, Kenix, Simon and TH later put in orders as well.  With the understanding that they all would make the trip to Taipei to collect their bikes once they were built.

The plan was to come to Taipei, collect bikes, spend two or three days riding, and then visit the Taipei  International Cycle Show.  CK and Daniel of Pegasus Cycles would get International Visitor passes for us.  Those passes would get us into the show as trade visitors, ahead of the doors being opened to the general public on 2nd and 3rd November.

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Pai started working on the logistics in August. By mid-September, ten people had confirmed that they would make the trip.  There was just one snag.  Jimmy and Kenix were the only ones of the five who had ordered bikes that would be making the trip.  The other three had to find people to bring their bikes to Kuala Lumpur for them.

So it was that three of us would not bring our bikes to Taipei with us.  We would ride new Dodsuns for a few days before bringing them back to KL for their owners.  Pai also did not need his own bike.  Mark’s bike had been returned to the manufacturer to repair a defect.  Pai would ride Mark’s bike and then bring it back to Kuala Lumpur for Mark.

Pai was in Taipei a few days early to take delivery of the new and repaired bikes and to finalise the logistics for our trip.  Ai Lei, Bin Soo, Ernestine, Huey-Ling, Jimmy and wife, and Kenix arrived on Saturday.

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Photograph courtesy of Liew Huey-Ling

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Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

Waiting at Taoyuan Airport to pick them up was Xiao Ger.  Our friend from the R@SKLs’ previous visit to Taiwan in April.

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Photograph courtesy of Xiao Ger

Xiao Ger would be driving the support van for us during this trip. We would be in good hands.

Movember Recce Ride

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Pegasus Cycles is organising a charity ride in aid of the Movember Foundation.  Movember is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.

Last night twenty-two of us tested a potential route for the charity ride.  I mapped a route which starts and ends at Pegasus Cycles and does not require crossing major roads.  I had anticipated the first deviation from my plan.  The road around the TPC golf course is closed for repairs.  So we planned to u-turn at Sungai Penchala instead of continuing through Taman Tun Dr. Ismail.

It is a good thing we tested this route out.  When we got to the left turn marked by the arrow below, we found that the road ran through a gated community.  Not accessible by a raffish bunch of R@SKLs.

Movember Planned Recce Route

Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

After a quick powwow with people who knew the area better than I, we rode this route instead.

Movember Recce Route

Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

By the time we deviated from the planned route, we had already decided that it wasn’t suitable for a charity ride.  There was too much traffic and the road surface was poor in places.

We stopped at Plaza Arkadia in Desa Parkcity to link up with Mark and Martin.

Movember Recce 1

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Movember Recce 3

Photograph courtesy of Robyn Lim

Then someone thought it was a good idea to do the 100m / 330ft climb to the water tank at the end of Jalan Desa Bistari.  It is amazing how a camera brings out the smiles, despite the gradient!

The huffing and puffing to get up that hill were worth it.  That is Genting Highlands seemingly floating on the right.

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We regrouped at the bottom of the hill to agree on a way back to Pegasus Cycles.

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Photograph courtesy of Robyn Lim

Some just waited for a decision to be made.

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Photograph courtesy of Robyn Lim

We rode back to Plaza Damas through the various Kiaras.  Most then spent a laughter-filled hour over roti rawa, roti canai, roti tissue, paper thosai, chapati and fried chicken, washed down with teh halia, teh tarik, teh o ais limau and milo.

The food was good, but the company and the laughs were better.