Taiwan 2009: pt 1

The Prelude: Leaving Las Vegas….the hard way

This past Interbike experience now ranks as my worst. Never have I been more under the gun to cover the show and get business done. Thursday night I was just barely staying ahead of the cresting wave….working hard on last minute tasks for the mobile social. And then somebody suggested that I take drink some Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. After that, the night crashed…there wasn’t even a spiral, the plane just dove straight into the ground. Total blackout. Horrible.

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Day One: Getting to Taiwan

If I drink a lot the night before, I cannot sleep in. While this is normally something of a curse, this trait totally saved my ass this time. I woke up at 6am and switched into full panic mode to find my bike and pack it along with everything else in the hotel room so I could fly to LAX for the beginning of the Taiwan Cycling & Cultural Tour, sponsored by China Airlines.

Surprises were waiting for me at the Vegas airport, for when I had rebooked my Interbike flights over the phone, Expedia had somehow put me on a 9:35 PM to LAX, rather than AM. I nearly threw up (again!) when the American Airlines ticket agent explained the problem, but somehow she tapped a couple buttons and got me on a 9:20AM to LAX as a standby. I got to the gate with just enough time to buy some water from a shop at the terminal. As my trembling hand dropped the bills into the palm of a surprisingly cute cashier, I described my Vegas experience in three simple words: “Worst. Trip. Ever.” She giggled; I dragged my ass onto an airplane.

David Byrne Bicycle Diaries

A bike romantic, David Byrne talked about his travels with the bike and how unfriendly most American cities are to cyclists. He was on the Seattle stop of a tour for his new book: the Bicycle Diaries. Unlike the usual book tour, David focused the event on advocacy with a civic leader, an urban theorist, a bicycle advocate, and himself each giving 10 minute presentations.

After the talks, the audience interacted with questions. In the hallways of the venue, various agencies represented their cause and there were more bike-related books for sale.

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China Airlines Stewardesses on bikes

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The Let’s Ride Taiwan 2009 event at Sun Moon Lake was sponsored by China Airlines, who thoughtfully provided company in the form of stewardesses (or if you must, “flight attendants”). Considering that it was raining and the sheer number of people on the ride, these women were quite competent riders on the bikes, provided by Giant. The route was only a short portion of the Round the Lake Road, as the sections on the far side would be challenging to the casual enthusiast and those not on performance bikes.

Besides, we needed to get to the Lalu Hotel so the organizers could bury us under a decadent Chinese style banquet. And if you’ve never experienced a Chinese banquet, then you’re missing out on life.

The weather here has been a bit damp, as there is a typhoon ravaging the Phillipines not too far away, but otherwise the the conditions here are really nice. If I had the opportunity to stay here a week or so during the depths of the Pac NW winter…just to relax and get fit, that would be AWESOME. The food here is really great too. Price-wise, it would be inaccurate to say that it is dirt cheap, but it is certainly reasonable, and much less expensive than Japan.

Mark V’s “Poop on Wheels” Award: Puma Fixie

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Interbike is a place where dreamers sell their dreams, where corporations present consumer traps, where marketing people gamble their skills. Not everyone can be a winner, but sometimes you just have to call out the losers…when the product is just shamelessly rubbish. For my inaugural “Poop on Wheels” Award, I present to you Puma’s 2010 fixed gear.

Fixed gears are HOT…all the kids are doing it, right? Puma just needed to make a bike the same way they make all those “limited edition” shoes…by using this year’s hot colour ways to cover up a complete lack of engineering and craftmanship.

Chictopia Bikes

A resource for the chic plain clothes women (and 2 guys) are wearing on their bikes is Chictopia’s Topshop Bicycle Club from this Summer.

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During the contest, entrants uploaded photos of themselves with bikes and the 5 chicest ones won a new bike. If not for the clothes, the contest is a study in urban bikes, like Erin’s basket bike.

Also a good example of the bike market that exists outside of the bike industry/bike shop silo. Do you think Erin would go into a bike shop or would prefer to get her new cruiser with a matching outfit at Top Shop? While some dissed Urban Outfitters for selling fixies, we saw it as a sign of sales to come.

Eventually all these urban bikes the industry is making will have to find a channel that isn’t a bike shop, it’s a boutique.

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