After five rainy days, we finally had the first sunny ride of the trip. I rode slowly and was enjoying myself very much in the city of Taitung (台東) until Teddy, the Taiwanese tour guide, dropped back to me. He said, “You don’t look like you are lacking stamina but you are very slow. If you keep going at this speed, you will be picked up by the support vehicle very soon.”
I was shocked. I didn’t think I was slow at all. As I never carried a cycling computer, I asked how fast my speed was. He said 15km/h. That was exactly my average speed of the bike journey.
Teddy said, “But you aren’t carrying any baggage”
“Oh…so how fast should I ride?” I was embarrassed.
He sped up and answered, “I know you are used to pedaling heavy on your tour bike. Now, shift to a lighter gear and increase your cadence, just look at my pedal rhythm and follow me.”
I shifted down and chased Teddy. He told me to find my own rhythm first, and then shift the gear up until a point that my legs felt slightly tired. After a while we caught up to the other members, and I asked Teddy how fast we rode. He said 27km/h.
I never rode that fast on a bicycle, or I should say, I never needed to ride that fast. But it wasn’t that hard to speed up, though it wasn’t my way of traveling on a bike. We rode along the coast road 11 till Donghe (東河) and turned into the Coastal Mountain Range road 23 heading via Fuli (富里) to our destination Yuli (玉里).
We stayed at New Life Spring Resort. It was a very exclusive hot spring hotel located on the top of a mountain. The last kilometer of climbing almost killed me after pedaling over 110km. But it was a huge achievement that we rode from hotel to hotel for the first time in the trip.
During the briefing at night, I realized that this tour didn’t prefer marking any checkpoints on the route. I understood that stopping for a long lunch wasn’t necessary, but sometimes I would like to stop for a photo. Teddy told me, the company asked him to design a round Taiwan route on a basis of riding at least 100km plus one mountain climb daily. They considered pedaling as leisure. Which meant, if I wanted to stop for a photo, I needed to be riding in front of the group and gain myself some time to do so.