Monday, April 29, 2013

17th April 2013 Day5- Hualien and her PCN

17th April 21, 2013.  Wed, Day 5
Group shot before rolling out
Guo Ger woke up early to get us breakfast
HuaLien and her PCN routes
Hanging around Hualien. Staying at 南埔庭園民宿
NanpuTingyuan, Guo ger and Fang Jei place. Actually it really feels more like a home. I guess that’s why we coming again to this place. It is not fancy but it feels nice and homely. Best of all, the 7-11 is just outside the front gate!
meat pastry that tastes sooo good!

Tiger giving Darren some tune up
In the morning, we rode around the PCN to Seven Star bay. Hualien first section is quite "Jurong Benoi" feeling. Meaning it has lots of concrete, Marble factory and trucks. Not too nice but as you ride on, the view changes and becomes much more pleasant. We saw the fantastic coast and also met an old gentleman cycling. He is 82!!! 
goofing around and just chilling
the nice red bridge
our lead, Encik George Lim
zipping in Hualien PCN
We also saw this huge concrete wave breakers /anti landing devices 
Lisa and AiLim with the nice sea view
82 and still riding!! Salute!
Chris showing why MTB... 
picking pebbles at Seven Star Bay 
I fell here trying to ride the BF on the pebbles... fail.. cannot. Maybe the Surly Moonlander can 
strangely therapeutic with the waves crashing   
having a break and nice chat with friends 
This is the fish that is associated with Seven Star Bay. Moolah fish
Encik Chut power!!
We reach Seven Star Bay in no time with all the chatting and joke. We also see the "Mola Mola" fish which was hugggee.
a nice fisherman let us see the catch.. a moolah... machiam steath plane.. and much bigger then I tot

After Lunch, we rode to Li Yu lake which was quite scenic. Encik mentioned it was a slow ride but as usual, he bluffed. We blasted there and the return leg was really fast. Lucky I got my pocket rocket which responded very well to a speedy challenge. 
Bridge towards LiYu Tang
Tiger @ Liyu Lake
slopes.. not so bad la

Darren admiring the awesome lake views
Tomorrow we will also go towards that direction, except we going to Mu Ku mu yu. Thats the local equivalent of Taroko Gorges, minus the chinese busload of tourists. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

16th April 2013 Day 4 - Downhill from Tai Pin Shan

16th April 2013 Tues, Day 4
TaiPingShan, CuiFeng Lake and downhill to foot of TPS
The view on top of Tai Ping Shan... and I overslept......
Family photo to remember the moment
I overslept. Haha..  By the time we woke up, it was already 0615. I quickly got out to see the sunrise. Or what was left of it. The air was crisp and the fog disappeared. There was only George and Desmond out on the viewing deck to watch the changing morning sun colors. I guess yesterday uphill must have KO-ed all of us.  Should be better today... I hope..
Beautiful colors
Crisp air!
Are you ready? Let's roll!
Ready as I can ever be!  Pierre the energizer bunny
Breakfast followed and we prepared to roll. George gave another safety briefing. Stay on a safe speed – less then 30km/hr and space out. Don't follow too closely with each other. And of course, this is Taiwan, keep Right!
We cycled to Cui Feng Lake which is along the plateau (less slopely) and the nice weather meant a sweat free and cooling ride.
Tiger and Desmond warming up... hayyy shou hayyy shouu
Gary lent me his Gopro to capture the downhill part... I hope it turns out good
Marcus with his Raleigh Tourer
For today I took my DSLR and took many of the folks carving down the mountain…. Whheeeeeee…  left and right, repeat 50 times… or more… brake brake and left and right… this is scary but fun!
Desmond share the chocolate leh...
Uncle Julian on a upslope! 
Whhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -Lisa
Ai Lim on her Pink TSR Moulton

Desmond carving with his Dahon TR!
Full concentration!

Slowly does it.. 
Elisha with this BF NWT  at one of the numerous hairpin turns...  

My trusty BF that got me up and down TPS!
In no time, we reached the Visitor centre (3/4 down the moutain) and as I lifted my camera, the metal buckle attached to my DSLR snapped! Oh gosh, it is my lucky day. 30 second earlier..  my camera would have fell off….  Lesson learned. Check and recheck your equipment. And recheck your equipment. 

Someone was definitely watching out for me... 
all the animals come out to play! 
We reached the base of the mountain in one piece, no accidents! Encik George was visibly relieved as he sat on the floor and rested for a while. 
Heng ah.. no need to medical evac... Thank you Encik for ur constant advice!
yummy Bento!
We had our lunch, packed the bikes into the van.
Then it was a long 2 hour drive along the coastal line (Su-Au highway to Hua Lien) to 南埔庭園民宿. Flatter terrain awaits.. haha!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

15th April 2013, Day 3, Tai Ping Shan, let's go!

This is what we did.. like Gary said.. sometimes ignorance is bliss :) .. I saw this after the climb!

15th April 21, 2013.  Monday, Day 3
Jiao Si to Ciling Nature Reserve (foot of Tai Ping Shan-aka TPS) to Top of TaiPing Shan.
Distance: 28km up hill all the way
Full set of Photos here 
woke up to this view... 
Good morning!
I slept like a log, must be the cycling yesterday.  And I open my window to this beautiful view. Rice Padi and the sun rising up from the horizon. Nice!
Even better news... oh goody goody, my knees are still good. I will need to be on my best condition today for Tai Ping Shan. I pondered on carrying my DSLR with wide angle zoom. It is damm heavy but the nothing beats a DSLR in optics...  I like to have it for capturing the views but I also know slopes are not my forte. 
Ok, lets drop everything to minimal, carry only the necessary. That would be the mandatory windbreaker, 2x Mars chocolate bar, 2 energy Gel, Dabrim, patch kit and spare tube. All strapped on the rear rack. No side pannier. That’s as light as I can get and I hope it works. Finger crossed. 
We rolled our bikes out and cramped them into a truck. It was a real squeeze and I am amazed how we did it but it did fit. Barely.  As we busied ourselves on the logistics, Momo and our Queens had fun looking at how macho we worked and also pasted the stickers given by 7-11....
buy stuff at 7-11, get stickers. Pass to Momo and Queens who will stick-em and redemm Rikaluka mugs! 
F1 pit crew tweaking their gear before the climb
Our steel steeds packed with cardboard to reduce scratching... 
Tough Tiger showing how strong and light Dahon bikes are... 
What I really liked... everyone chipped it to help
Maxed out.. 
The luggage also moved into support van and we cramped into them and drove to Ciling Nature reserve. It was about 80 km of winding country road which Encik initially wanted us to ride…And then do the Tai Ping Shan. As the van move along the road, I was like “thank goodness we took the van…or I would already “punchek” (be spent) by the Tai Ping Shan start line. 
Wholesome family of scare crow along the way to TPS
Tai Ping Shan , here we come!
"wait wait.. before that.... rub more deep heat first " Desmond Chia 
At the foot of the TPS, we took the group photo and rambled happily towards our objective. We had to sign in at the security so that in case of any problems, they would know we are still in the area. For this area, there were no 7-11 nor shops. What we need, we have to carry or put them at the support vehicle.  TPS gradient was like what Encik George mentioned. Think Mt Faber last stretch about 10 percent gradient and it was all the way like that for 24 km followed by 4 km flattish terrain.
Princess Momo giving me a big cheer before I go off. 
Gary with his uber nice Bike Pocket Rocket Candy red 
Slope starts... "middle ring ok..." dun pray pray.  Mountain Goat Chris pedals on
Thank god I changed to the compact crank. It was all the way on the small 34 front ring and 28 rear. Average speed for me and many others was like 6km/hr and at times even slower(Switch backs).  The mountain view was nice and I was missing my DSLR a lot… but I knew had I brought it along. I would pay dearly for it. 
TPS on a nice sunny day... 
wahhh ... every view is a winner!
Steam cleaning my Bike Friday 
TPS is quite special as it was constantly foggy. I felt I was in a Jurassic park setting. The vegatation was like lord of the rings. Lots of moss, fog and monkeys.  It was scary at times as visibility was about 3 metres and can hardly see more in front.  Felt like you were riding alone. Our lights were on so that we could be better seen on the road. ... or at least try to.  
It turned to this half way up.. feels like the setting of Jurassic park.. 

into the unknown.. switch on my blinkers!
We gathered at some point, looked at one another and walked. All asking.. “are we there yet?… 
Even when asked by Kim to head down a couple of slopes.. we all voted to wait for the lunch to be send over and eat at the road side. No way we were going downhill and climb up the slopes... 
Eating at the roadside.. what a simple pleasure! Got hot soup some more!
“ Our morale booster was the distance markers at the side of the road… 18km.. alrite… almost there. At the 20km marker I was looking desperately for the hotel. It was getting cold and we have been cycling for over 4 hours. I was out of mars bar and drank my last energy drink.  My water was about half…  oh oh.  My knees were holding up surprisingly well. Thank goodness I did the research and Kian Lim very nicely lent me the cranks. Or like we would say… “I will be up the lorry (gave up and took the vehicle).  
Beauty everywhere u look                                            Photo credit Darren
I walked at times, panting from all the exhaustion but it was still beautiful to see the forests and the animals. The monkey followed me as if they were asking “are u crazy…” or maybe they were just trying to snatch my Mars bar.. I don't know  but I do know I will give a good fight if they do..  That’s what slope does to u. I started talking to myself..  J
The terrain flatted somewhat around 24 km marker and I was getting worried if I missed a turn. I saw no one in front for about 2 hours.  I pedaled on averaging about 20km/hr… not too fast as I did not know the terrain well. Staying always on the safe side. Then one happy moment when I saw George sitting on the fence with Pierre.  They laughed when they saw me… “Taiwoon!!! Hahah..  alrite!!” I was also very happy. I made it!  
yes! I did it!   Photo Credit Darren 

That flying feeling to have made it up TPS!!   Photo Credit Darren 
Ai Lim and Lisa jumping with joy!
George was the first with his super souped up Bike Friday Tikit on Roholff hub...ermmph... Sorry no photo as there is no way in hell we can ever get ahead of him to take one. 
yeahhh!!!  reached TPS top! 

Power Queen Berenda!
Followed by Pierre on his Dahon, Darren on his Bike Friday “LaLa Lama” and Berenda on her Moulton TSR. I was next with the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. It was happy moment for me as I really suck at slope. The bike and compact cranks really really helped. Later on Siew Wan and Gary ambled in with their BFs and every one cheered!
Big cheers for Siew Wan and Gary!
As the weather started to turn colder and windy. Guo Ger picked the rest up and drove to our hotel up the mountain.  Temperatures up there was about 10 degrees and it felt colder with the wind. 
Cold cold cold... at TPS villa

indoor parking
George Lim, Ride Lead and his navigation kit
The hotel was furnished with lots of wood and the fragance was nice. We didn't spent much time looking at the interior design as we were all trembling from the cold. Kim boiled hot water for me to try keep me warm and I quickly went for a hot shower to get my body temperature up.  The hot bath helped a lot and I change into the dry clothes. 
warm and toasty inside the rooms.. they have heater!

Mens room
Then I walked around the place. Very nice and quiet.  It had turned dark by then and I couldn’t see any stars. Must be the cloud cover and the icy wind blew on my face. This is how TPS feels like at night. What a treat!
Foggy and Frosty

Dinner followed and then coffee at the viewing area. All of us complained of “no wifi” and exchanges our personal experiences going up TPS. 
Chris sharing his Chiang Mai cycling photo collection
Chris was sharing his Chiang Mai photos and I think that's another nice spot for cycling too.
We turned in early as we wanted to wake up at 0430 to see sun rise.. I hope we wake up on time. 
Sleepy time!