Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Swimming and then the Bike Course

This morning I entered the water at the pool at 6:15 am. The first 1,000m I swam reasonably solidly, but for a while after that due to several people in the lane and a loss of focus plus my shoulder feeling a little sore I just swam easy until 2,000m. Then after a minute or two in the jacuzzi (to massage my shoulder), I came back and did 4 x 500m "light moderate" going faster with each one so the times ranged from 9m 25s on the first one to 8m 53s on the last one. While I tried to relax a little after that by kicking easy, etc. when the 100 m race came I found I was pretty tired and I finished a distant second equal in about 1m 32s. I finished off with a little relaxed swimming for a total distance of 4,500 meters. The fact that I had little left at the end meant that it must have been a pretty good workout. About 15 minutes later after showering and drinking my "Ensure", I was on my bike.
Today's bike ride was more of a picture taking trip. The weather was sunny, but clouds were building up and visibility was not as good as yesterday. After about 10 mins of biking (going by the Golden Lion Like, across the freeway and round the back of the huge trash incinerator, I passed the graveyards and rice paddies (see the above photo), as well as a mix of corrugated factories and elevated roads in the distance. More "ghetto", but at least quiet. I then reached a bigger road, climbed a small steep hill and a little further on turned down a road with a golf course to the right. Then more windy and hilly roads (but not much traffic at this time), until I got on to a bike path.
While this bike path (on the right) was not very long, it did provide plenty of shade. To the right of this path there is a busy four-lane road that connects Kaohsiung with some of the suburbs and there is a hospital, a college and a baseball stadium nearby (fortunately all on the other side of the road). After riding on a fairly narrow sidewalk for several hundred yards further on, for which you really need the mountain bike and have to go slowly as it is narrow, I reached the bottom part of the Cheng Ching Lake (pictured below). On a clear day with good visibility, this is the breathtaking view I referred to yesterday.

The bike I am riding has an aluminum frame and three chain rings on the front, which are usually necessary. Often the hills are not very big round here, but they are often steep. By riding such a bike, I am not going to get any fast times, but I trust by regularly pedaling, I won't be incapable of riding a real bike should I get to visit Kona.

To the right (about half way up the east side of the lake), one can clearly see the little Fu Kuo Island with the suspension bridge that I wrote about last month. It is certainly nice climbing a longish hill on a bike and getting to see so much water. Since it takes me about 20 minutes to bike one loop of the lake (in clockwise fashion), to run one loop would probably be four to five miles. It is quite doable if I am up to it. I would then bike to some place by the lake, lock the bike up and then run round once. Still, I will leave that until later, as swimming is already taking up a lot of my time.

Finally, after a longish and picturesque uphill climb passing about a mile of the lake to the left, and again with some shade from the trees in places, the road levels out, and after a couple more minutes or so I reenter the road with the rice paddies and tombstones. To the left is a traditional Chinese house. In fact it does not consist of just one building but at least three, arranged in a kind of inverted "u" shape. In an earthquake, you at least have more of a chance of getting out of one of these.

From this Chinese house, the little lane leads back around the trash incinerator, then to a bridge across the freeway, then a few minutes later I am back home. The whole ride, from pool to past the rice paddies to around the big lake (counter-clockwise) and then back home probably needs about 50 mins. If you go clockwise around the lake you can save at least 5 minutes by staying on the roads and usually only having to turn right. The distance can be increased by adding loops or riding along the trails within the Golden Lion Lake which one passes in both directions.

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