Won't be seein' this on the Tour de Taiwan
David Reid of David on Formosa, one of the best Taiwan blogs, has translated and posted on the Tour de Taiwan 2012, to be held next month. This route is ridiculous in the extreme, as if someone deliberately set out to avoid all the pretty parts of the island and instead sought to send the cyclists through all the flat, polluted, crowded, dull parts of the island.
No east coast. No cross-island highways. No Kenting. None of the stunning mountain vistas of Miaoli. No Alishan or Yushan. None of the beautiful hilly roads of Chiayi. Nothing in Pingtung. No East Coast Rift Valley.
Fail! Here is an ideal showcase for the awesome beauty and accessibility of Taiwan that can get foreign cyclists talking about how good the cycling is here. Great work, organizers. Fail!
For example, here's the Taichung map (stage maps and information are here):
Note the pictures, all of local tourist spots: the Fengyuan Night Market, the famous Matsu temple in Dajia (how many of the foreign cyclists will know that Dajia is the heart of Taiwan's famous cycling industry?), the Luce Memorial Chapel, Metropark.... I'm stifling a yawn here. See any mountains? Just compare the Tour de France.....
This has all the earmarks of a route mapped by the local flatlanders who whip up and down Taichung's dull coastal roads having testosterone battles on their showy, frail carbon bikes and conceiving of a "tour" of Taichung in a totally conventional Taiwanese tourist fashion. Fail! We already have enough of that kind of advertising! Why not do something else?
Further, if you want to make it to the big time bike circuit, laying out a difficult and challenging course along beautiful mountain roads would be a good way to start. Just compare the Giro Italia.... Imagine if the course had started in Sincheng and went over Wuling at 3200 meters and then came down in Puli.... it would look just as good as that shot from the Giro Italia.
Here are some of my favorite loops in the area. If someone had given me the Taichung route to design, I would have had them do the 8 and then over the 21, a road with lovely hairpin turns and great mountain views, showcasing Taichung's cycling strengths, then come back over 136, The Fence, avoiding built up areas to the extent possible. Or up the 3 into Miaoli and then back to the coast via 120 or similar. Or up to Simaxian Mountain, surely one of the loveliest areas on the island, via the excellent farms and hills on Dongji Road and then to Tiangou and over (and a nasty grade too!)..... Or anything else. Argh!
ADDED: Hans in the comments explains why the Tour is so dull and rebuts some of my commentary, Drew puts together a dream tour.
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