[This is the final post in the series Smiling Kodiak Laps Up Taiwan}
Our last day in Taiwan was another brilliant day, sunny and warm with a nice breeze. Over the previous three days we discovered another world existed just steps from our Taipei hotel. The banks of the Tamsui (or Danshui) River are cut off from the city by a double-decker superhighway atop a flood wall four stories high.
Determined to lay eyes on the river, at first we walked a mile before we found a break in the flood wall under the highway. Then, walking back along the river, we realized the stairs that appeared to deposit one on the superhighway were actually the access way for the river, immediately adjacent to our hotel. We used those stairs daily or more since.
Myrtleford revealed itself to be a good place to set up base for a couple nights. The Great Alpine Road serves as its main drag, with a number of secondary streets providing enough in the way of restaurants and other commercial enterprises to fill our needs. The flat we had rented was only a hundred meters off the rail trail, which was a good thing, considering our state on arrival. It was also near a supermarket, where we picked up what was needed for a home-cooked breakfast and a cycling survival kit.
Our objective was Bright at the very top of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. Bright sits only a hundred meters higher in the mountains than Myrtleford. Ignoring minor undulations, the ride climbs the equivalent of one story every kilometer for thirty kilometers, a 0.3% grade. That’s about as flat as things get in an area called “The Australian Alps”. Continue reading 09. Cycling Nemeses→
The V/Line train to Wangaratta runs alongside the right of way that serves the Melbourne to Sydney route, a busy and historically significant line. I was pleased to see our old comfy rattler included an extra baggage car, ensuring plenty of room for our bicycles when boarding at Southern Cross Station. The train departed on time at 7:05 am. We settled in for the three-hour voyage, Frank fast asleep by 7:08 am.
I tried to get some sleep, but after the police excitement on the bike ride to the station, I was wired. Instead, I drank more bad coffee (which was excellent bad coffee, by the way) and nervously checked the weather radar every thirty seconds. A low pressure trough had decided to camp out over Victoria, meandering back and forth. The forecast called for “unsettled conditions”, which is meteorologist-speak for “your guess is as good as mine”. Continue reading 08. A Wet Dream→
Identifying a dangerous idiot quickly can be a life-saving talent, so over the years I have developed many techniques to do so. For example, a person who uses any of the following platitudes in seriousness can be immediately recognised as a dangerous idiot:
“Whatever it takes”
“Work smarter, not harder”
“Anything is possible”
“Frank and fearless” (archaic)
This kind of idiot is relatively easy to spot. They have a propensity to rise to the top of the larger organisations that incentivise and congratulate moronic behavior, which is pretty much all of them. Proud of their success, the dangerous idiot rarely strings together a sentence without reference to one of these notions. Continue reading 07. The Idiot Police→
Yesterday I gave my newest bicycle to Bicycles For Humanity (www.bicyclesforhumanity.com). They plan to ship it with a container-load of others to some needy folks in Namibia.
The bike in question is an Avanti Blade, with a lightweight alloy frame and a whole lot of bells and whistles. Other than the bell, the contraption had been a continuous source of disappointment since I purchased it five years ago. It cost me $550. Then it spent its first two months in and out of the shop having things righted that never should have been wrong in the first place, free of charge. Even the shop got tired of that, and after sixty days they started charging me to fix such things. So I changed shops. A few months later I had spent another $300 on repairs. Continue reading Lemons in Namibia→
I saw him coming. The goofball in his mid-twenties was riding on the wrong side of the foreshore bike path, helmetless, not looking where he was going, abreast of friends, if not the road rules. I rang my bell with increasing urgency, then came to a screaming halt – literally, I was screaming – all to no avail. I was motionless when he crashed into me with the stunned look that infants reserve for, well, you know.
Near as I can figure I’ve ridden about 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) over four to five thousand hours. I’ve spent half a year, 1% of my entire life, riding a bike.
Many of us recall the joy and freedom we experienced with our first bicycle. The bike enabled us to go places faster, farther, and harder to find than Mom and Dad could, or the school, or the police, for that matter. It bred a sense of independence, as well as irreverence for authority and the law. It was borderline anti-social, especially when we did it in packs. Stop at traffic lights? Stay off the footpaths? Signal before turning? Wear a helmet? Are you kidding? Continue reading Bicycling Bingles→