The secret of Din Tai Fung.

Please click here for an introduction to the following Will and Julie story on my personal Facebook site:

World Cup 2002 -- hosted jointly by the Republic of Korea and Japan. On the night of June 18th, South Korea pulled a stunning upset beating Italy. Revelries continued throughout the night as Seoul and the country celebrated. Sometime before dawn on that joyous occasion, Will and Julie met.

They were two very different people. Will...

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Cycling Taiwan (24 Oct - 3 Nov, 2015)

Days Nine, Ten, and Eleven: Lishan, Luodong, and Taipei

In a cold rain, my determination was to cycle to the 2,500-meter (8,202-feet) level of the KOM Challenge. Simon, our Taiwanese-cyclist driver, had a habit of shouting from the support van that I had only 2 kilometers to go. With the carrot dangling before me, I was repeatedly assured the summit was just beyond the next switchback. But rounding that curve, this cold and wet cycli...

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Cycling Taiwan (24 Oct - 3 Nov, 2015)

Days Seven and Eight: Taroko Gorge National Park

Riding north on a beautiful tree-covered country lane in the hills between the Hualien River and the Pacific Ocean, we encountered broad vistas of the rocky Hualien River bed covering nearly the entire breadth of the valley.

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Cycling Taiwan (24 Oct - 3 Nov, 2015)

Days Five and Six: The East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, the eastern coastline, and the Hualien Sugar Factory

Indeed, Day Five dawned with only wisps of clouds on the mountain peaks. Heading north, we avoided the coastal community of Taitung by entering the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area.

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Cycling Taiwan (24 Oct - 3 Nov, 2015)

Days Three and Four: Taiwan High Speed Rail, Kenting National Park and the South Coast

From Taipei, we took the Taiwan High Speed Rail to its southern terminus 211 miles away at Zuoying. Completed in 2007 using Japanese technology, the 90-minute journey with speeds up to 186 mph, runs about 70 times per day each way for about $30. The 12-car consists carry about 1,000 passengers.

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The secret of Din Tai Fung.

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Posted by Bikenado

Cycling Taiwan (24 Oct - 3 Nov, 2015)

Days One and Two: Taipei and the North Coast

Forty-six years after my last trip to Taiwan, I notice a few changes.

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Bikenado Goes to Iceland

Day Two – Reykjavík to Selfoss

Not far out of Reykjavík, the volcanic origins of Iceland become quite apparent. Our first stop was Kleifarvatn, the largest lake in Southwestern Iceland, sitting on the fissure separating the North American Plate and the European Plate. As the two tectonic plates slowly pull apart, the fissure deepens and opens. After two earthquakes in 2000, Kleifarvatn began draining down the fissure at a rate of about a third of a...n inch per day. There was worry that the lake would disappear, and with it the legendary whale-sized, but wormlike, Kleifarvatn Monster. The drainage has stabilized, however, and so has the monster’s fortune.

Our good fortune, though, was to escape the Kleifarvatn Monster and a possible journey to the center of the earth by making our way about a mile to the south. Here we witnessed a reverse mechanism of nature in place -- the up side of earth’s continuously circulating water pump. In the geothermal fields of Krýsuvík and Seltún. super-saturated steam from deep below comes to the surface as boiling mudpots and sulfuric volcanic vents.

Not relishing the possibility of slipping into a boiling mudpot, and at the same time feeling the call of an enticing descent from the high mountain reaches of Kleifarvatn and Krýsuvík to the coastal plains below, this always enthusiastic downhill cyclist chose not to linger. The anticipated fields of lava, however, were seldom visible. They were covered by thick carpets of gray moss, occasionally mottled by small wildflowers. Apparently the moss had not yet turned green because it was still dormant from an unusually late and harsh winter. Nonetheless, the luxuriously soft carpet of moss proved to be the perfect place for a picnic lunch.

Afterwards, we cycled to Selfoss, crossing more moss-carpeted lava, nature preserves, green fields, large expanses of bluish purple lupins, and black-sand beaches. And finally, the evening was capped by relaxing in Selfoss’s geothermal pools.

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Bikenado Goes to Iceland

Day One – Reykjavik

July days start early in the world’s northernmost capital (64° N) with a 3 a.m. sunrise and end with a sunset just before midnight. But the sky never really darkens and at two, brilliant red clouds can light up this delightful city of 120,000. Reykjavik seems to have everything one would want from a city, except a warm climate. Though temperate for its latitude, average highs here range from the bone-chilling 30s mid-winter to 5...0s mid-summer.

On this predictably cool day, I met my 13 fellow cyclists for the first time as we quickly found our way to the Icelandic Bar. Joining me was a couple from Canada, a woman from Japan, my roommate for the trip and now good friend, Warren, from New Zealand, and nine hearty souls from the U.K.

After several good IPAs and a variety of North Atlantic seafood, we walked to our hotel passing the only railroad locomotive in Iceland -- used to construct the city’s docks in the early 1900s. A few blocks later, the Harpa Concert Hall with its exterior of glass facets , sparkled and flashed like a Times Square electronic billboard as it caught the lights and colors of passing cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. And finally, facing the harbor, the haunting Sun-Craft sculpture appeared. Was it the skeleton of a ship, a whale, or something mythical?

In a land known for its folklore of gnomes and elves, what will the next eight days bring? I hope for good food and drink, engaging conversations and stories from velophiles hailing from the four corners of the world, and, oh yes, spectacular cycling through a very special place called Iceland. And if I catch a glimpse or two of an Icelandic gnome, that would be fun too.

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26 Sep 14 Sile to Istanbul

A day like no other -- it was our last. Emotions ran high. For those who had cycled the 12,500 kilometers from Shanghai they could scarcely believe Istanbul was in sight. Four would achieve the EFI Award, cycling Every Friggin' (edited) Inch, through all kinds of weather, sickness, and hardship.

My admiration for my fellow riders knows no bounds. I'm not sure I could have completed the four-and-a-half-month journey, and am relieved I didn't a...

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25 Sep 14 Roadside Tea House Camp to Sile

More hills, more Black Sea, our last night of camping, and our last of 107 riders’ meetings for those who have cycled the complete Silk Road. Tomorrow will be Day 133 for those who have done the Full Monty – for me, Day 31. The excitement is building, the tension mounting, and the anxiety fostering as we ponder life after the Silk Road.

24 Sep 14 Kaymaklar to Roadside Tea House Camp

Soon after dawn, the rain scurried off to the east, the sun came out and we were on the road. By mid-morning we got our first view of the Black Sea and its resorts.

It’s unclear how the Black Sea got its name, but at times it does appear black instead of blue. Apparently the Greeks called it the “Inhospitable Sea” because of savage tribes along its shores. When the Greeks later inhabited the southern shores, they bega...n calling it the “Hospitable Sea,” which continued through Roman times. During glacial times, the sea is a freshwater lake, cut off from the Mediterranean by the Bosphorus, which is above sea level during ice ages.

(The littered campsite shown with vehicles parked next to tents, I guessed to be inhabited by Romas. It was the only such campsite we saw in all of Turkey.)

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23 Sep 14 Safranbolu to Kaymaklar

The day dawned benignly, or so it seemed. Come and go showers, though, increased both in frequency and intensity as the 70-mile day -- with the usual 5,000 feet of climbing -- progressed. And finally, cycling along a ridge the final 10 miles to the campsite, the rain became horizontal with a constantly shifting 40 mph wind. Nearly the last to arrive at the campsite, I found others struggling to keep the “easy-ups” upright. But the s...truggle was for naught. The wind and rain won the battle and everyone and everything became drenched.

Fellow cyclists graciously helped me set up my tent, but the grassy campsite on clay soil quickly flooded. Some tents blew to new locations, but all tents became mired in water and mud.

All was not bleak, though. Our resourceful South African chef, Yanez, rigged up a gas-fired grill in the back of a van and managed to prepare a most welcome and tasty selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian burgers.

Back in my tent and reasonably comfortable, there was little opportunity for sleep, however. The intermittent roar of rain on tents was punctuated by the less intermittent barking of dogs. Seems I was probably responsible for most of the barking. My malfunctioning flashing tail light could not be shut off for more than five or ten minutes before it began flashing again. (It never occurred to me that removing the battery would solve the problem.) So every time there was a lull in the rain, I ran out of my tent to once again switch it off. When the barking resumed five or ten minutes later, I was assured that my tail light was once again performing its duty.

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22 Sep 14 Safranbolu (rest day)

Perched on a steep hill, the ancient city of Safranbolu has become a favorite of travelers from around the world for experiencing the Turkey of old. Long important in the trade of saffron, the small city still touts its benefits. Seen outside a saffron shop:



• Renews Cells and Relaxes Body
• Increases Sexual Power
• Helps Calming the Nerves Down
• Has Stimulating Effects & Strengthens Intelligence
• Helps Heart and Vein Blockages
• Used Tootreat (sic) Cancer

A Unesco World Heritage Site since 1994, red-tiled roofs, narrow streets and alley ways, as well as 19th century Ottoman wood-framed and stuccoed buildings, abound.

After World War 1, when the Greeks left what is now Turkey and the Turks left what is now Greece, Safranbolu’s main church, dedicated to St. Stephen, became Safranbolu’s Great Mosque.

My roommate (and now good friend) for hotel nights, Michael, from British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, enjoys a plate of manti, Turkish ravioli (seen handmade in a previous photo).

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21 Sep 14 Mushroom Forest Camp to Safranbolu

At a late-morning “Coke stop,” young Ben from Australia ponders the meaning of life, which his elder countryman, Frosty, is hesitant to reveal. In the background, the young Turkish proprietor watches the scene intensely for clues.

20 Sep 14 Osmancik to Mushroom Forest Camp

Leaving the five-storied hostel in Osmancik, we rode across the rice fields for which the Osmancik region is noted. Naturally, a ridge to climb quickly followed. At the crest, a view of the next ridge, whose granite outcroppings reminded one of Yosemite – only here a half-dome is a more complete dome. To the right, a switch-backed road I thought surely would be our next ascent. Instead, we circled to the left. Don’t know ho...w the Tour d-Afrique staff missed that one.

After another long day, the idyllic Mushroom Forest Camp pleased Sylvie as she set up her tent. Never one to complain, the anesthesiologist from Montreal often skips breakfast to ensure she gets the earliest start possible on the grueling day ahead. I’m reminded of a miserable day in China when we cycled much of a day on a road covered with coal dust. As most of us cursed, all we could see of black-faced Sylvie, was white teeth giving us a smile ear-to-ear. If I have to endure another surgery, I’m headed to Montreal to be anesthetized by the unflappable Sylvie.

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