The Legend of La La Shan

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This was the big one. The ride we had all been talking about, and finally we were doing it. Peter provided the prod, the good weather reports the motivation, and two local dingbats with buses the transportation.

We are an international bunch – Peter from Ireland, Lee from Taiwan, Mike from Oz, Ludvig from Sweden, Mark from the USA, Martin from Switzerland, Me from Ingerland, and George from Germany. Sounds like the Eurovision. Peter would win.

La La Shan by bike sounded like heaven. 2 hours by bus into the mountains south of Taipei followed by 16km of pristine singletrack, hot springs in Wulai and home in time for dinner.

Mmmmm… singletrack in the sunshine. 16 Km of it! Sort of.

It almost ended up like that. But then it also nearly ended up with several of us walking home. I have never been on a ride beset by so much catastrphic mechanical failure – in the space of about 200m we had 3 flat tyres (all on Peter’s bike, I would like to add…) a wobbly bottom bracket, 2 shredded tyres (Peter’s again), a rather worrying wobble from one of the rear suspension units, and then there was me.

Nik will not be pleased!

The record for flats goes to Peter Grogan of Ireland

My chain is in there somewhere…

The only warning I had that I would riding the remainder of the ride with one gear was a mild tinking sound from the rear of the bike. Stoping to inspect, I discovered that the derailleur had caught up in the spokes of my wheel, snapping the chain, taking out a spoke (and buckling the wheel) and both breaking the gear hanger and bending the derailleur itself. Hmmm. Houston, we have a problem.

Spot the deliberate mistake

Lee’s turn


Luckily, one of the middling gears on the rear gave me reasonable chain tension, so I was able to make it along just fine – especially because the gradient meant that pedalling was rarely needed. It did, however, mean that the 19 K back to Wulai had me spinning my pedals like crazy, and no explanations that Lance Armstrong demonstrates a similar ‘supplesse’ escaped the fact that my feet were twirling away as fast as my rear wheel was bouncing around.

Mark is pleased to be motoring again – home for lunch? hmmm

Bike at rest – wheels, chain and rear sprocket less than 18 hours old!

Sadly, much of the riding… was more like clinging on for dear life

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Why does that always happen to me?! Don’t tell Mum

George and I made the wise choice of staying in Wulai and sampling the hot springs. Marvellous. Tremendous. Just what I needed. Switching between natural hot spring, chatting with locals while sipping tea and jumping in the river, was really special – especially holding on to a rope and allowing the cool waters of the river to drift past me, with only my mouth and nose above the water. It really brought me home … or maybe that was just the endorphines kicking in.

Wrong way, Mark!

PS. I would like to state that the formatting on this blog is all over the place because Blogger decreed that this should be the final layout. Note to self – do not use the automatic image upload system again.


  1. Posted 2006/08/28 at 02:41 | Permalink

    it seems interesting
    where is it in taiwan???

  2. Posted 2006/08/28 at 08:40 | Permalink

    It’s to the south of Taipei, way into the mountains. Very beautiful.

  3. Mum
    Posted 2006/09/01 at 23:57 | Permalink

    Did you get any bamboo under your fingernails? Oh and you look fine in the London Pride shirt! (I did see that picture)!

  4. tobier
    Posted 2007/03/16 at 14:58 | Permalink

    Mum, you should see him with his head full of London Pride.
    That would make you proud!

    -Georg, the roommate-

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