63歲的澳洲地質學家 Kingsley Burlinson 這兩年跟他的 Reach 精實車已經旅行了超過15,000公里。從4/18到5/6，他將在台灣展開新的冒險旅程。4/19 Kingsley 到台灣拜訪的第一站，就是 Reach 的出生地--太平洋自行車。
Reach 的催生者，也就是董事長林正義，與他相談甚歡。林董事長與太平洋的同仁同時也協助 Kingsley 精選了最適合及風景最佳的路線及景點。Kingsley 離開太平洋後，開始往南騎行.....
以下文章為 4/24 收到 Kingsley 來信的中、英文忠實翻譯。如同，Kingsley 信尾所說 ～ "精彩的還在後面—真正的山岳之旅還沒開始呢！ " ，我們也非常期待 Kingsley 的再度來信 ！
Kingsley attacks mountains
Its time again for me to undertake yet another cycling experience. This time the destination is Taiwan and there is no associated geology conference to interfere with the serious cycling.
Now Taiwan is not the most obvious cycling destination, but a little research revealed that Taiwan has great potential which i have decided to investigate. I was also interested in the possibility of visiting the Pacific cycles factory where my Reach bike was designed and made.
台灣目前並不是自行車旅行的首選，然而有些調查顯示她有很大的潛力，因此我決定要去一探究竟。同時我也有興趣參觀我愛車 Reach 的誕生地—太平洋自行車。
When i examined the roads and topography i realised that there are serious mountains here and numerous roads into them along the western margin. But only a few roads cross the island completely because the mountains are so rugged and the passes are as high as 3250m! Higher than any pass in the Alps! In other locations such mountains would be cold and snowy, but Taiwan is in the tropics so the climate is much more pleasant. Almost too good to be true, so i booked my flights and folded my bike and now i am attacking the mountains.
After a transit through Singapore my arrival in Taipei was uneventful and i reassembled the bike in a corner of the airport terminal, and rode off to a nearby hotel i had booked for my late evening arrival.
As often happens at airports there was no access for bicycles on the airport entrance roads but i rode cautiously and the traffic was only light at 9pm. The staff of the rather flash hotel did not complain as i took my bike with me in the elevator up to my room.
Seeking a late meal i went to the hotel restaurant where i met a local person doing the same and we had a pleasant conversation. He was welcoming his mainland chinese relatives and we sat at separate tables but when i went to pay the bill this kind person had paid for my meal!
I was very impressed by his kindness. What a wonderful welcome this was to Taiwan!
And the kindness continued next morning when George from Pacific cycles collected me and escorted me around the factory and museum of innovative bicycles he had designed. Truly amazing and interesting.
After lunch i commenced my cyclng southwards. I was pleased that the traffic was not as difficult to manage as i had feared. After 2 hours i reached the large city of Hsinchu. Here the traffic was heavy and a bit chaotic, but i soon learned to survive the hordes of scooters.
Many or the roads have edge lanes for scooters and this is great for cyclists also, providing some protection from motorists. But the scooters are only a cyclist's ally when dealing with cars. They are a cyclist's enemy in the drag race at every stop light.
In the evening i met Fleur, a cyclist living and working here. She taught me by example how to survive the traffic as we rode to the night market for supper. Be bold and absolutely fearless! It works.
Next morning it was time for me to venture into the unknown and hope i could survive without speaking mandarin and without being able to understand the complex squiggly patterns that everyone else reads so easily. The major roads are all well marked with route numbers so i felt confident i could navigate my way. But in the first major town a street market had closed my route and i lost it while trying to bypass the closed roads. So i merely road east on uncharted roads, which eventually connected to the route i wanted. In the process i found numerous well paved roads and quiet villages through the intensely cultivated tropical farmlands. The main route south was a wide and low traffic road that had been replaced by a freeway and was perfect for cycling being hilly and scenic. Eventually i reached the major city of Taichung. Here i tried unsuccessfully to follow the route numbers but the signs were mostly absent and i continued seemingly forever through a jungle of traffic lights. Eventually i found a motel, not being sure just which city i was in. The motel staff said i was in Nantou but at a nearby police station next morning they told me i was still in Taichung. Some 6 police became involved in helping me with directions on how to get to my chosen southbound route. But despite their help i soon became quite lost again. Just like my touring in Europe, big cities are all "Hotel California" experiences. Check out anytime, but you can never leave!!
After many circles, 4 hours and discovering numerous back alleys and dead ends i eventually found an exit road southwards. I must remember to stay up in the mountain villages and avoid the big cities. In these villages the locals often waved encouragement to me. Or perhaps this was their way of indicating they thought i was crazy to ride a bike in these hills! As i reached Chiayi, where i planned to stay for several days, my gearshifts became erratic and i would need to check and repair them soon.
At a pizza shop that evening (that’s right, at least i can understand pizza menus), i was given directions to a bicycle shop. They are not common, but scooter shops are everywhere. Next morning i found the shop at 8:30am but it did not open until 11am. I had no city map so i randomly rode around looking for a bike repair place and found one in a narrow alley. The guy there had clearly never seen gears like mine, but he did have the cable i needed. I showed him how and helped install the new cables and the gears were soon fixed. My next problem was to get local maps so i went to the city hall building. Fortunately there were street signs in pinyun (latin alphabet characters) which i could read. A request for maps must have been unusual because i soon had some 20 staff involved in finding, printing and translating my request. Not to mention the cup of tea while they ran around helping me. There was no lack of helpfulness and much interest in this unusual foreigner.
It was now 10:30 and i was keen to go cycling out of the city and i decided to visit a scenic area some 30 km away. I found a turnoff to a village that was on my map, although he road itself was not. I was feeling confident as i finally found some serious hills to climb. A sign on the road seemed to say the road was closed and i knew there was landslide damage in the area. Although closed to cars i was able to pass through on a very narrow pathway across the landslip. I continued on and up through tea fields hoping to reach the village soon as it was getting late. And i was hungry! It was after 3pm when i finished lunch high up in the mountains, far from home. I was concerned about being so late but hoped for a fast downhill ride home.
There was a downhill, but only to cross a river and there was another enormous climb following. I really was not expecting this, but there was no choice now. It was 4:30, i was in the damp mist above the cloud base, i had no idea which road i was on and the tea plantation ladies were all crammed in the trucks going home after their long day at work. And fool me was up here on a bicycle. Maybe i really was crazy after all.
It was not until 5pm that i found a road sign which allowed me to work out how to get back to Chiayi, which was over 30km away. Fortunately much of that was downhill, an astonishingly long and tortuous downhill which was quite fun. And i made it back to the motel just on nightfall. Not quite what i had planned for the day, but truly an amazingly scenic day.
So after just 4 days here i have found friendly and helpful people everywhere, good roads and manageable (albeit chaotic at times) traffic, warm weather and fresh pineapples. Hey, peach season in Hungary last year was great, but nothing can beat fresh pineapples.
Taiwan is looking like a cycling jewel.
Stay tuned - the real mountains haven't even started yet!
老當益壯 - Reach的萬里征戰