It’s not a stretch to say that Taiwan is the single most important location in all of cycling. Say what you want about the Wallers-Arenberg forest, the Col du Galibier, Lake Como, the Mur du Grammont or even Girona, Taiwan is the place without which cycling in its many forms would come to a halt, screech or no.
The Yangmingshan Flower Clock
Increasingly, bikes and parts are made in China, Vietnam and Singapore, but many, if not most, of those factories are operated by companies that are based in Taiwan. For all the power that the product managers of the big American bike companies seem to wield, the real power resides here.
I found this tiny temple (it’s about the size of a dog house) atop one of the climbs within Yangmingshin National Park.
I’ve been invited by the Taiwanese bicycle trade association TAITRA for a few days of the Taipei show and than a tour of the island—by bike of course—from north (Taipei) to south (Tainan).
After my visit to the Taipei Show, I’ll be sticking around for a few more days of factory visits that I have lined up. And because a few of my proposed visits got shot down after my time here was already booked, this is your opportunity to make a request. If there’s a factory you’ve wanted to read about the inner workings of, make a request in the comments. I can’t remotely guarantee I’ll get in the door, but if they here that avid cyclists want to know more about Brand Y, it might just help.
Looking back into Taipei from the park.
After arriving yesterday, I assembled my bike and headed north out of Taipei to Yangmingshan National Park. I could see the mountains in the distance and the map clearly indicated switchbacks, so there wasn’t much else to do. It was that or sleep at 2:00 in the afternoon. Damn jet lag.
I feel a bit like Hunter Thompson, reporting on something about which I know nothing. I didn’t know the national park existed before my trip, never read a thing about it before locating it on the map, and haven’t had time enough to read up on it since returning to the hotel. It is, however, a kind of journalism (and I use that term in the loosest possible sense) that reflects what our day-to-day experience of the world is. Journalism is meant to inform us on all those things we’d have missed otherwise, but like I said, this wasn’t ever really part of the itinerary.
My defense is that without taking off, half-cocked, into the hinterlands of an island I barely know, I’d have missed out on this.