Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two-day cycle: Tainan to Chiayi and back

Just a quick one - and no photos for a change.  Andrea finished up at Sharefun English school last Friday and left early the following morning for Vietnam.  There she will meet up with a friend and they will experience the experiences of experiential Vietnam.  I, on the other hand, will not finish at my school until the 14th of August; these are private schools and they schedule their academic calendars differently from one another.  And so I will have the next three weeks all to myself.

The van arrived to pick Andrea up at 5am on Saturday morning.  I arose around 7am, breakfasted while poring over a map of Southern Taiwan, packed up, and headed out for two days on the road.  I felt I really needed to get out of Tainan and to go exploring.  I chose to cycle to Chiayi because the distance suited me for a two-day tour and because starting off from Chiayi on Sunday morning would allow me to return to Tainan via the foothill roads through the hot-spring mecca of Guanziling and southwards behind Wushantou Reservoir.

For some reason (perhaps related to the she'll-be-right,-mate attitude I inherited as an Australian by birth) I neglected to apply any sunblock to my surfaces, believing that my tan made me immune to the effects of prolonged exposure to ultra-violet radiation.  Despite making amends by applying some sunscreen several hours into the journey, I could feel that I was sunburned by the time I arrived in Chiayi and I still had a return journey to make!  This presented me with a tough choice on Sunday morning: catch the train back to Tainan to avoid further burning; or do my best to minimize any more skin damage and cycle back to Tainan as planned.  I decided to cycle back and accept some level of skin damage.  However, I used all the strategies available to me to protect myself including: buying some strong (SPF50+) sunblock cream and applying liberally; riding on the wrong side of the road (in places where there was shade on the other side); alternating between walking in the shade and cycling in the sunny stretches (I only did this in the hills to avoid having to walk up any inclines in the sun), timing my rests in the shade to coincide with full sun; cycling anytime there was any cloud shadow; altering the position of my hands and arms on the handlebars to spread out the sun's effect; and when I got back to Tainan, I steered a course through the city to keep me in the shade of large buildings.  It all seemed to have worked and I suffered no noticeable additional burning.

Altogether I covered just over 200km in the two days and arrived back in Tainan weary but satisfied with my effort.  Finally, here is a map of the route compiled on the Bikemap website.

Bike route 599966 - powered by Bikemap