Lifeday 25,691 Surprise tour by car

With the bike safely packed I had the whole day free as the flight isn’t until 11.45pm. By an amazing coincidence, LingLing who owns La Maison Du Steak Restaurant in Cambridge and is a longstanding friend happened to be in Taipei to visit her family and attend a wedding over the last weekend.

So this morning she appeared with her sister in a posh car to take me on a little tour of President Chiang Kai-shek House & Mausoleum, Daxi Tea Factory & Daxi Old Street and of cause a lovely vegetarian restaurant 🙂


A pat on the head from Chiang Kai Shek

Of cause now I’m leaving it turned into a gorgeous warm sunny day with no wind, perfect for cycling, but good for tourist pics too 🙂 Interesting to see the pics of the Taroko Pass being built with picks & shovels. Even more amazing is the park with all his various statues that have been removed, on the New Governments Orders apparently, from all over Taiwan and now parked in the park! Quite bizarre. We also took in the changing of the guard at the mausoleum which I’m afraid just so reminded of Cleese in Ministry of Funny Walks 🙂

Afterwards, we drove down the Old Street in Daxi where totally amazingly I spotted fellow cyclists Graham & Frances out for a stroll! our third such meeting 🙂

Then time for lunch in a real Vegetarian Restaurant where the food is sold by weight and incredibly cheap then LingLing took me to an ice bar from the days before ice cream where a blog of ice is scraped into a bowl, you pop in the fruit you want (sold by weight) then more ice and goo is spread over. Quite good although the fruit should be in smaller chunks.

A great morning and good to have the “local knowledge” from a real knowledgeable bi-lingual person. So many thanks, LingLing & your sister!

Around Daxi

A more ‘in depth’ take on the park is here

Lifeday 25,690 Taiwan bike ride finished & bike reboxed

My 2017 Taiwan bikeride

My 2017 Taiwan bikeride

Oh dear no posts during the Taiwan bike trip 🙁 and the bike is all boxed up and ready to fly tomorrow. I’ve had an excellent time apart from my wretched cold and the daily rain showers with occasional strong winds but it’s lovely and warm so those discomforts didn’t matter 🙂

I did one complete clockwise loop of the island reaching both lighthouses at each end. Plus straight across the island to the Sun & Moon Lake and then up to the highest mountain pass in Taiwan at Wuling, 3,275 metres above sea level quickly followed by the awesome 10,700 foot descent down the renowned Taroko gorge, the highlight of the trip even though it was pouring rain and I ended up riding for two hours in the dark; although the amazing Qingshui Cliff section on the East Coast Suao-Hualien  road was a close second. I was very fortunate as there had been a very recent landslide which blocked the road, although I snook across 🙂 so I could zig-zag across and get loads of cool pics.

I like Taiwan a lot relatively cheap, my accommodation averaged out at £36 a night with quite a few ‘fancy’ places, food is inexpensive and plentiful with 7-Elevens seemingly around every corner street markets everywhere. The drivers are courteous but watch out for the zillions of scooters in the towns. Roads are well marked for cycles with many super duper special cycle paths. Although the Route 1 cycleway fails to use them! Its more set up for folks who want to bomb around the island in 9 days 🙁  the route manual is here!

All the route details are on Strava and pics are all on Flickr, hopefully, the links will appear in the spreadsheet below:

I met some interesting folks and hope to be able to introduce Sally to Graham & Frances on our next little UK tour.

My basic stats for the trip are 926 miles biked with 51,500 feet of climbing, 106 hours riding time in 19 days plus 8 rest days. Amazingly 144GB of internet data used, well it was an unlimited SIM. 🙂


Ride-Swim-Ride to Letchworth Outdoor Pool

Today I decided to go and try the Letchworth Outdoor Pool for swimming. It’s only 27 miles from Cambridge so I thought it would make an excellent ride as well as a swim. The website created a circular route of 63 miles (100km) with quite a few hills.

The ride out was OK apart from the busy road near Foxton where they expect you to cross it then return once over crossing! A total nightmare with the huge queue passing after the gates go up 🙂  The SPAR in Bassingbourn is quite unbelievable behind its armour plating and anti-ram railings! So reminded me of Creswell in bygone times, not a respectable Cambridge village.

Otherwise, a lovely ride and the pool was quickly reached in just over two hours. What an excellent pool it is too! 50 metres long 8 lanes wide, heated and with real lifeguards sitting on their high chairs on diametrically opposed corners of the pool. The entrance fee was only £2.80 with a very friendly cashier. The place seems very well run and very professional. The showers are great! clean, really powerful, hot and a decent drainage system all about as far removed from Jesus Green as you can imagine. The surrounding grounds are well kept with a lovely cafe area overlooking the pool with no huge trees to block the sun or deposit leaves in the pool. I will certainly return. The only slight downside is the shallow end is quite shallow but eh it will teach me to keep my legs high 🙂

The way back was quite a bit further and much hillier so I think I will give it a miss in future and just return the way I went!

A great day, tiring on my old Schwinn bike, with a 100km ride and nearly 1000 metres swam the Apple Watch even managed to record all the day’s activities correctly.

Riding to Oxford from Cambridge

After yesterday’s upset with its subsequent threatening email from Jesus Green Pool and the rather Orwellian named BETTER. I’ve decided to abandon swimming there for this year.  Which now leaves me more time for cycling and exploring other swimming locations with, maybe, better lifeguards & showers.

Biking to Oxford and bussing home

So today I decided to retrace, more or less, my previous walk to Oxford this time on a bike which meant it was easily achievable in a day. Originally it was to stay the night and return a different route. However, no accommodation seemed to be available for under £100, which I refuse to pay for a pub or b&b! I then discovered that the wondrous X5 coach (free to oldies like me) takes bikes for free 🙂

I duly set off at 8.40 under overcast skies but the promise of sunshine in the afternoon. Very pleasurable too although oncoming cyclists on the narrow bikeway was somewhat hazardous. I was looking forward to some cake at Woburn which is halfway (walking it was my second night – today it was just over 3 hours into the day). However, when I arrived, I made a poor choice with the soulless Caprioli Tearoom and pitiful scones 🙁 The Apple Watch I subsequently found gave up recording to Strava here too – maybe it didn’t like having any 3G or WiFi 🙁

Today’s surprise was the number of main A roads I had to cross which I can’t remember from my walk plus the huge number of hills! the Oxfordshire roads were very potholed as well and I’m still surprised I didn’t get any broken spokes or thrown off the bike.

This time I crossed the Oxford bypass via bridges rather than running for my life across it although for some reason I ended up near the Mini plant at Cowley which seemed to have very few minis in its car park.

I arrived at the bus station just in time to sling the bike in the luggage compartment underneath and present my oldies card 🙂 The journey home was painfully slow, 4 hours – due to the rush hour traffic from Milton Keynes etc. Interestingly it covered the almost identical distance to my ride.

All in all, a very satisfactory day now to work out which pool or river to visit tomorrow 🙂