June 7th - Taiwan Lockdown - CycleBlaze

June 7, 2021

June 7th


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The sun's out, but who knows what'll happen during the next few hours. It's anybody's guess. 

Getting out for a spin before it's too hot or pouring down is what goes through my mind and I'll aim for Daxi and just see how it pans out. 

It's humid and some sun cream gets rubbed on my arms and I don my sunglasses and cap. The last time I wore these Shimano socks was when I toured Morocco back in 2012. It's hard to say how old they are. They were hiding at the back of  a drawer. 

It's about 10:00 when my wheels start rolling.

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Only a block from home I stop when some mops and brushes hung on racks attached to a metal door catch my eye. The owner has quite a selection. Debbie and I only have one.

Initially the route is the same as I rode yesterday, but after about 10km I veer away from Longtan and ride towards a main road (3) that after a small incline will drop me down towards Daxi.

There's not a lot to photograph en route, but a polished metal door to a small house is wide open and has my reflection in it as I cycle past, so I try to capture it. 

In hindsight I could have made it much easier by just standing still instead of riding, as my image is so distorted it's hard to make out my head. It looks like I have two.

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To get to the main road I drop down a small lane lined with tall bamboo and then there's a short climb. It's a shaded and scenic spot and I stop and take a snap, setting up my tripod on the steep bank beside the narrow strip of bendy tarmac because it's safer there if a car comes by. 

The main road (Route 3) is  wide, but not very busy. There's an uphill section that takes a few minutes to ride and then it's a long drop where my speed is well over 50km/hr. That's fast enough for me nowadays. 

At a set of lights at a junction I keep going down and this road is now route 4 and this drops down and my speed is high again until eventually it takes me across a wide bridge that goes in front of Ximen Dam. The river flowing below is very shallow and the rocky bed is visible in many places.

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Like the 3, the 4 is nothing special as both are basically highways, but being wide makes cycling quite safe what with there being a decent shoulder to ride along. 

Even though the 4 traces the river downstream, there's a gentle hill for roughly a kilometre. On the way up I remember that there's an old house set back from the road that got renovated a year or two ago and my eyes are peeled for the lane leading to it, which has a small brown information sign and I make a right when it appears. It's called The Jian Family Residence (大溪簡氏古厝).  

The wooden doors are padlocked, but I can see over the high wall and poke my camera over and take a snap. I'm not sure if it's actually occupied - it doesn't look like it is. Even if it were open to the  public, there's usually not much to see inside these old homes - apart from the main entrance area, which usually has a shrine - as the rooms are often small and devoid of ornamentation. 

On the way back to the 4 the bamboo-lined, narrow lane looks nice and I take one more snap of myself, sticking one of the legs of the tripod into a small hole in a concrete telegraph pole. It's just as well as a 4x4 drives up as I'm cycling towards the camera and I have to brake and squeeze against the thick bamboo stalks to let it pass. 

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It's not too far to Daxi now and there's a Starbucks in town. I'm ready for a bite to eat.

Starbucks has no customers and no chocolate goodies, so I make do with a spicy sandwich and a cappuccino and wonder where I can go to sit and have a break. 

From town the main road drops down to the the river, but before crossing over the long bridge I make a left onto a small road as it seems quiet and it leads to a much nicer bridge - the original, narrow one that's now just for pedestrians. There's likely a place along the small road where I can sit down for a while.   

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A walking ramp leads up to a gazebo and there's no-one else around. Perfect. 

Half a dozen stumpy marble stools are set around a slab of three-inch thick marble and the view is one of the shallow river below and the green escarpment on the other side. 

Adjacent is a simple shrine carved into the rock-face that's obviously well maintained, with a few fresh mangoes and a bottle of water left there by someone as offerings. 

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After 10 minutes or so it's time to head off. The sky has become quite threatening and it's just a matter of deciding which route to ride home on. 

I cross over the ornate suspension bridge, which is all mine today - that's never been the case before. Usually, and especially on weekends, the thing is buzzing with day-trippers.

On the far side I follow a bike path that cuts below it and ride downstream.  There's a huge flood defense wall blocking the way to the escarpment, which I will have to crest at some point, so I keep on the path and look over to my right and notice the sky looks like it's about to unload a whole lot of rain before long. 

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The path is taking me away from home and when I get a chance, I make a left turn and follow a road which seems vaguely familiar, but it's probably over 15 years since I was last here. It is a bit busy with trucks.

A simple shops appears and I need a bottle of cold drink and go inside and get one from the tall fridge as the owner walks out to stand on the road. When I hand a NT$100 note to her, she asks me to place it on a table and then gives me the change by doing the same. Clearly the virus has got some older people to behave very cautiously, but I'm mystified as to how not taking my cash directly helps contain it.

I get a bit lost and feel like I need to be heading more towards the escarpment and when a small lane appears I take it. Sure enough, it has a tunnel that goes under the main highway and once through that I make a left, basically doubling back on myself.

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Bill ShaneyfeltScarab beetles. Possibly this one.

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5 days ago
Graham FinchThanks - that's the one... Torynorrhina flammea chicheryi. I just knew they were some kind of scarab.

Their iridescence caught my eye as I cycled up a hill.
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5 days ago

I'm on the  right track and just have to cycle a couple of minutes to find the bendy lane that climbs steeply up the hill. It's a tough little stretch of tarmac that has me breathing hard and it brings me out on the edge of a place called Bade. I know this area well. 

From Bade, I opt to take a small lane. It is a slightly longer route, but more enjoyable and it takes me to within a couple of kilometres of home and while the dark clouds have come closer, I win the race and stay dry. 

Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 97 km (60 miles)

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