Friday, December 17, 2010

Taiwan -- Day 5 Hualien, and the Oh-My-God-I’m-Going-to-Die Ride

Laundry was becoming a real problem at this point.  I had almost no dry or clean clothes. I had packed really light after reading Wireless Mark’s blog at and with the expectation that it would be more of a business type trip. I certainly wasn't expecting to do daily marathon bike rides, or have clothes that were super sweaty or wet from the typhoon rain.  My other clothing complication seemed to be that although I can use chopsticks very well, I was unable to control the splashing of food juices.  It seemed that at every dinner I managed to splash food over my chest. 

After a great sleep and fantastic buffet breakfast we headed out for another bike ride. There is a GIANT store located near the Hotel Bayview and we picked up bikes there.  The plans for the day was a 32km bike ride along the seawall, then freshen up and eat lunch on the bus on the way to our afternoon activity.  Unfortunately just before we left on our ride we found out that our afternoon four-hour river rafting was cancelled due to the torrential rains.  The rivers were beginning to rise and overflow and it would have been too dangerous.  

When we got to the GIANT shop the heavens opened.  It was a complete downpour.  The rain was coming down so furiously that it hit the pavement and pounded back up again.  Fortunately, earlier in the trip John had given us all plastic rain ponchos to use in case we needed them.  Dressed in shorts and a cycling shirt, I donned my bright yellow plastic bag, grabbed my bike and got ready to ride.  Since I was so unequipped for this cycling-cation and the typhoon, I had to stash my iPhone in my bra and my camera in my short’s pocket to keep them dry.  I did have a bicycle pouch (thanks Wireless Mark) but it was not waterproof and I decided it was better to be safe than sorry (or so I thought), especially after the fate of the other electronics on the trip so far.

The surrounding area of the Hotel Bayview

The raging ocean along the Hualien Bike Path

We set off along the marble seawall path to Hualien City.  There is such an amazing resource of marble in Taiwan that it is used for many things.  I’m not sure that a walking/bike path at the water’s edge was the best choice for this particular material’s use.  After we had rode along for a minute or two I cycled off the path and onto the dirt beside it. Instead of stopping and moving my bike back onto the path, I used my newfound cycling confidence to try and ride back onto the path.  Alas, that did not work.  I failed to realize that the marble was higher than the dirt and therefore had created a lip.  Since I have no upper body muscles I was unable to pull up the bike to cover the lip.  The end result was me hitting the path like a dead weight.  I completely bailed and ate marble path.  I crushed my iPhone into my left breast (which resulted in a nice bruise) and fell on my camera in my left pocket.  That also left a nice deep bruise on my thigh.  Pride dented, I laughed and got back up on my bike and headed off after the others. 

Wirelss Mark and Bev on a section of the bike path, Hualien City

Another view from the bike path.  Note the large ocean spray in the background.
The winds were howling along this section.

NOTE: Again I really have to thank Wireless Mark and Beverly for sticking with me during these rides and giving me lessons, advice and encouragement.  They made me feel like a real superstar and I will remember it always. For those of you that live in or near Cupertino, California Beverly teaches Women-only mountain bike classes.  Check out her blog(s) at and for more information.  For people on the East Coast, or who love dry wit, check out Wireless Mark’s blog at 

Now back to my Oh-My-God-I’m-Going-to-Die ride through Hualien City.  We came to a steep cliff area and we had to carry our bikes up to the top along the sectioned path that had stairs and ramps.  Once at the top it became a tarmac path through green fields and vegetation.  As we were riding I started talking to Wireless Mark and Beverly. I failed to notice that we were heading down a slight decline and gaining a lot of momentum and I went off the path again.  This time though, my earlier spill popped into my mind and I was terrified.  Tarmac was going to hurt a heck of a lot more than wet marble.  I went to my failsafe plan and starting to scream holy murder. Bev and Mark started yelling advice to me on how to stop but I was so panicked I finally just pulled on both the handbrakes.  That resulted in me doing a very nice 9.9 flip over the handlebars (Official Term is “Endo”, I believe) and a full faceplant into the dirt. Luckily my chin and chest took the brunt of the fall and I didn’t break any teeth.  The bike landed on my back and head, but the helmet protected me.  Yeah, bike helmets!  They may look dorky but apparently they work.  Unfortunately, I still had my iPhone and Camera in the same places and they proceeded to make my previous bruises even bigger and deeper. 

Bev and Marked rushed over to make sure that I was okay but my first thought, believe it or not, was “TAKE A PICTURE”.  Somehow, maybe survival instinct, I had to show that I was alive, okay, and going to continue biking.  Plus come on that was going to be a great photo.  For the second time that day I picked myself back up and continued the bike ride. 


Thankfully the reminder of it was fall-free and I had a great time.  I did have to abandon my lovely plastic yellow poncho because of all the tears in it, but I was already soaked to the bone by the typhoon rain and the sweat from the ride.  I was never cold though due to the great temperature in Taiwan during this time of the year.  Even with the blowing winds, whitecaps, and rain it was a fantastic and serene ride.  We rode along pathways, causeways, up hills and over bridges, down hills and through alleys, lanes and unnamed streets. It was an absolutely amazing adventure.  Our ride of course took much longer than we had planned and when we returned to the hotel we had 15 minutes to change, shower, checkout and get on the bus.

Note the tiled/marble paths

Interesting home/store along the bike path

By this time the typhoon was really playing havoc with our original schedule.  Our afternoon river rafting had been cancelled and we were going directly to Taroko Gorge. We set off in our Barney bus and stopped at 7-11 for some beers before going for lunch. We ate at a fantastic restaurant that did deep fried silverfish, veggie dishes and chicken. We finished there and took a drive to Tianxiang and the Silks Hotel in Taroko Gorge.

Corniche Bike Path, Hualien

Corniche Bike Path, Hualien
Look at what Typhoon Megi was doing.



MB said...

NIamh, you were so awesome on this day. Seriously, I thought you rocked before this, but this day cemented that.

VancouverBanshee said...

Thank you my darling. I appreciate that. Still an amazing day !!