Friday, December 17, 2010

Taiwan -- Day 3 Huoshui Lake and the Taiwan Cycling Festival Kick-off

Everyone was up, ready and in the lobby for 530a.m.  We grabbed our boxed breakfast and hit the road again.  It was still dark at this time of the morning so I still didn’t get an idea of what the surrounding area looked like. On the other hand, the boxed breakfast was delicious with a variety of breads, Danishes, and croissants. 

King Lui, Mr Mao, Justin and Janice.

This event was the kickoff for the Taiwan Cycling Festival and 10 days of cycling events and activities, culminating in the Taiwan Cup 2010.

Local Aboriginal People and their traditional dance performance

The Taiwan Tourism Board, Hualien and Taitung local governments have invested over $24,000,000 USD dollars into infrastructure to promote cycling, hiking and other active sports on the East Coast of Taiwan.  Cycling is a major lifestyle in Taiwan, which is also known as the “Kingdom of Bicycles”. The Taiwan Tourism Board has set up Taiwan as a prominent leader in promoting cycling and bike-riding tourism.

Sixteen distinguished cycling teams, including Rabobank Pro Team and 43 international media were invited to participate, including myself. I am honored to have had the privilege to travel Taiwan and attend these events. The international cycling teams would start their series activities on Oct.21 2010. These activities included training from Hualien city to Tianxiang (the scenic spot at Taroko Gorge) on Oct. 22, the pre-road race on Oct. 23, and the Taiwan Cup 210 km road race on Oct. 24. The distance of the route is 210 kilometers along Provincial Highway No. 9 and Highway No. 11. The racecourse is set to be tough and challenging. It was estimated that these elite riders would finish the high-intensity race within five hours.

The crowd at Huoshui Lake was huge.  There were a ton of volunteers, many vendors, the participants, the press and media coverage crews as well as the government dignitaries.  There was a brief introduction of the event, as well introductions of the dignitaries and us (the foreign press contingent).  This was followed by a brief presentation and speeches by each of the officials: Taitung County Magistrate Justin Huang, Minister of Transportation and Communications Dr. Chi-Kuo Mao, Director General of the Tourism Bureau Janice She-Jen Lai and GIANT Chairman King Liu. 


Huoshui Lake -- Swim portion kick-off

Our GIANT bikes to ride with the Minister of Transportation

Once all the official introductions were done we each received a bike and were lined up behind the four officials.  After we posed for the official press photos we proceeded to go on a 15-minute ride through the Tiatung Forest Park. This was my first time on a bicycle since the late 80’s and I was a little nervous to say the least.  The old saying is true that you don’t forget to ride.  What you do forget is that you should have sturdy shoes (not flip flops), that you should use the handbrakes to stop (instead of screaming), and that your bum will hurt immensely from the bike seat.  But other than that it was fantastic! I felt completely exhilarated and ready to take on the world. 

We posed for a variety of more group photos and watched some of the competitors finish the swim portion and grab their bikes before heading back to Taitung City.  I have to say that I learned a lot about the rules and methods of a triathlon. It’s a very interesting sport and I give credit to all who attempt, let alone finish a triathlon.

Competitors finishing the swim and transitioning to the bike portion

Amazing, Solar and Wind Powered Street Lights, Huoshui Lake, Taiwan

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