40 of us took off from Singapore for a 3-day cycling adventure in Sep 2014.
We were to find out that we got more than what we bargained for.
Organised by Star Cruises, the fly and cruise trip was to cover Taiwan's Taipei as well as Japan's Ishigaki and Naha.
As we arrived in Taipei, most of us learnt about the approaching Typhoon Fung-Wong for the first time. This was to mess up our plans. I admit I wasn't aware of the magnitude of the weather until I stepped out of the airport.
After checking into the hotel, we got to familiarise ourselves with rented bicycles from Giant Adventure - the travel arm of the world's largest bicycle manufacturer, Taiwan's Giant Bicycles.
With the wind howling in the distance, the approaching typhoon was on the back of our minds. Would the ride still be able to go ahead?
Fortunately, the sun came up the next day, and the ride was on! But we had until 12 noon before Typhoon Fung-Wong was scheduled to hit the city.
Day 1's original route was to be a 60km from our hotel at Danshui all the way to Keelung Port.
The weather, however, caused the route to be shortened to 40km.
Still, it involved taking on Taipei's Yangmingshan National Park. An 800+ metre altitude mountain with winding tarmac roads. From our start point, there was 20 km of uphill cycling to be done.
We started off from our hotel with a leisurely paced 5km ride to the foot of Yangmingshan National Park, and from there it was a tough climb up to the top.
Besides the uphill, there were also strong cross winds to deal with. The big green mountains and lovely views made the winding journey up rather worth the effort.
The varying gradients gave most of the cyclists a good workout. I do a bit of cycling on the weekends, and there were moments in the climb that I had to consciously tell my legs to just keep on pedalling.
So I must give credit to the most senior cyclist on the trip, Uncle Tan, a sprightly 73-year-old Chinese gentleman. While he might not be the fastest of the lot, he never gave up and surely but steadily made it to the top. I later found out he cycles everyday.
Not all made it to the top though. Those who did were rewarded with breathtaking scenery.