Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hey look I won

It was a crazy trip down to the south of Taiwan to the city of Kaoshuing to participate in the 2nd Giant DH cup race.

We loaded up the gear Friday afterwork and arrived about 4hours later to the hotel we booked. The race was early so there was no way we were going to wake up at 5am, drive down and then race.

Along for the ride was Steve from Niner, Ryan from Astrix [who has been repeatedly called a Banshee guy to his dismay, and i don't like to correct the person who says it which is like rubbing salt in his wound hahaha], and last is Emma from Ryans girlfriend.

We had scoped the location out earlier on the GPS where we figured the race was going to be and when we arrived everything was dialled and the organizers were ready to run the XC race, which gave us time to practice the DH course. So we setup and saddled up to check out what we had in store for this round. Last race was brutally flat and not technical at all so I wasn't expecting much.

Steve is such a competitor and I'll give him massive props for doing whatever it takes to race. He went out purchased the mandatory chest protection, borrowed a helmet, and threw on leg pads which were clearly made for a 12 year old. Hell he even went so far as to jam his torso and pads into a 1980's XC Incredible Hulk jerseys. Gawd he looked rediculous hahahaha - good thing for me i got the picture to prove it.

So we all went to scope out the course and got around the first corner to see a group of riders scoping out this off camber drop to sharp 90 degree off camber corner to a switchback. I figured what the hell and went for it but near the bottom of the first corner my front tire washed and i was down. No problem i'll just try it again.
After about 15 try's i figured it was basically impossible. The torrential rains had made the mud clay so freaking greasey that it was impossible to move even on the slightest slope - not even on your bike... I'm talking just standing there. I couldn't even walk up the hill and the mud stuck not only to your tires but to your shoes so much so that it was like walking on platforms.
Even the approach to the drop was off camber with a slight grade that was impossible to not have the front tire wash.
I did ride the rest of the course but it was pretty tough as it was all just like this which is too bad because there was a couple of large ravine gaps that i would have hit, had i been able to carry some serious speed but the goal was to just keep from going down.

Finally it was time to race; I knew the key was going to be keeping the tires clear which meant carrying enough speed into every section. I managed to nail the drop and the next section then made the switchback back to the left where I had watched 2 previous riders slide into a gulley at slow speed and disappear in the bushes, one on his back sliding like he was on some crazy waterslide. You know its slick when dudes are gaining momentum going down a hill on their backs. Luckily all those years on the Shore riding over slick roots, negotiating super steep tech lines and traversing slimey skinnies gives you mad skillz when things get greasy.

In the end I aced my class and posted the fastest time of all the riders.
The Incredible Hulk was 2 seconds behind but was still able to win his class, I even got a pic of him standing on the podium... oh wait I'm blocking the shot... oh well better luck next time Steve in capturing you glory moment hehehe.
Ryan came in second in my class but we won't mention the space between first and second although he did have video footage that confirmed that he was in the trees far longer then he had thought he was when he crossed the finish line and was perplexed by his time.

It was really wet but alot of fun. The hardest part tho was climbing back up the runs after practice cause it was so steep and slick. I definitely want to come back on a dry day and hit up those jumps though.

Back to the hotel to clean up and then scope out where to go for some grub.
Steve found out they DONT like it when you play their piano in the lobby.
We found a pretty good Thia restaurant that fit the bill and had some good eats. Then back to crash for the night so we could check out the rest of the city of Kaoshuing.

Morning came way too early and it looked like mother nature was going to give us a break as it was pissing down harder then the day before which i found hard to believe that was actually possible. Check out the shot of the street vendor at the bottom of the stairs and the rain rolling off them.

We decided to drive around through the university to see how far we could get but the road deadend at a miliatry facility.
While looking over the cliffs to the ocean below I spun around to see the tops of these weird looking buildings which I had to climb up the ledge on the other side of the road to check out.
Not really sure what they were but there was a pils box at the bottom of the shore which indicated it must be reminants of the Japanese occupation and these little shacks could have been some sort of camp circa 2nd world war.
The mountains behind them seemed endless as the clouds rolled slowly down the sides. Eventually I got caught in another downpour and had to take cover inside one of them. They were a 2 story affair with the stair case taking up the middle of the room.
Eventually the rain subsided and I could hear someone screaming angrily. I figured maybe I had trespassed or something but I had enough of a listen that it was too far away, and actually further up the mountain. After a few minutes listening I figured someone was climbing up the mountain and was yelling at their partner but the strange part was it sounded like french not chinese. Anyway... it was just kinda weird.

Later we found this cool temple tucked into the mountains of Kaoshuing. A few people were up there but for the most part it was pretty empty.
Temples can be found all over Taiwan but they're not really a religious thing. There basically like giant good luck charms and are used to garner favor with some ethereal energy or force to give you luck or fortune or health or any other thing that one would ever be wanting for. Analogous to throwing pennies in a fountain and then making a wish.

Later it was lunch and then the long drive home and the unpacking of gear and such. All in all it was a good weekend even though the weather wasn't cooperating.