Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快樂!

The gates of this large kindergarten in Kaohsiung have been nicely decorated to usher in the new year of the ox.

Chinese New Year is more or less upon us, and this coming Sunday (January 25th) will be the Chinese New Year's eve. We are not planning to do anything too special this coming week, when many people will be on vacation. It does not make a lot of sense to go places or to try and stay in a hotel when everything is likely to be crowded and fully booked. Since I don't have to report at an office each day, it will make more sense to go somewhere after the Chinese new year and the vacations that surround it (especially for students and university faculty) are over.
The market where I get my fruit and vegetables with my bike in the foreground. You can see the weather has been quite cold recently. This is unusual and fortunately does not last long for Kaohsiung.

I have been in semi-hibernation as far as training is concerned. With the water temperature at the outdoor pool having started at 18C (64F) at the beginning of January, and having steadily declined to 15.5C (60F) on January 14 and having come back up to 19C (66F) today, while swimming is bearable, it has not been such a lot of fun. I have swum between 1,000m and 1,600m each time (less when it was colder), and I have obviously not thought of doing sets or flip turns or anything apart from just going for it and getting the distance over with. Hopefully, that should change within a few weeks once the water gets above 20C (68F), which in my opinion is a reasonably temperature, even if not particularly exciting.
In early January this year, tougher anti-smoking laws came into force and many no-smoking signs have been posted in public facilities. Whether the restrictions have any effect remains to be seen.

Other news is that I might be getting a mountain bike soon. Of course, I ride one to the pool and back each morning and use it for shopping, but it is designed for someone almost a foot shorter than me. On trips around town, it is not a problem, but I cannot expect to ride to the southern tip of Taiwan (about 80 miles away) on that, not unless I want to have a lot of knee and back problems.
I saw a bike that might fit me last week, but the shop was about to close early for the New Year break and so I will have to wait another week before taking a further look, assuming it has not been bought already. However, in my opinion, if it really is my size, there aren't many people here who are likely to buy it. What I need to do is to really make sure it is my size, and if it is even only slightly small for me, it will still be a lot bigger than anything I rode in Kona.
For all my "official" races (including Honu Half-ironmans and two Ironman attempts) I rode a Kestrel that would have been ideal for someone about 5 ft 9 in. It was great in short races, but on the longer rides my forearms went numb due to the arm rests being too close to the saddle and my knees were hyperextended so that when tired they gave me trouble, so much so that on one Ironman attempt I was unable to run at all at the end of the bike and eventually had to drop out.
Taiwan makes lots of bikes and I have seen some really nice ones in the stores, and at good prices, too. However, mountain bikes larger than 19" are hard to come by (they are mostly just exported), and there are few bikes with longer top tubes (which suit people who don't just have long legs). People are just not that tall here. The bike I saw may turn out to be a fairly good choice if I can convince myself it is large enough. It is in the "middle" price range for aluminum-framed bikes, and so, while it should provide fairly good service, it also won't cost me such a huge amount of money, thereby leaving open the possibility of something else later on when I am more certain as to exactly what is the right bike for me.
These flowers, which Jocelyn planted at outside our front door have been blooming and it is the coldest time of the year. At least it does not feel cold seeing these.

I am not considering a road bike or tri bike at present. The MTB will not be for racing, but more for exploring, and will hopefully enable me to carry sufficient "baggage" to travel, eventually overseas. If I can get it to Hawaii, I could try riding down from the radio tower at the top of Kaloko Drive (lol), in the same way that I watched one girl, who knew the route, do it on an MTB that she had just ridden up to the top in Gecko's "Journey to Lalaland". It's not about how fast you go, but rather how much fun you have. I did that ride (on the asphalt) three years running and it was probably the funnest biking experience I ever had, even though I did not have the right gears on my Kestrel.
Hapuna is only 170 days or so away. Will I make it there? That depends on a lot of things. Whether I am swimming faster or not does not really matter as I can only train so much. One of our sons has applied to three colleges in the U.S. to start this fall and all three have accepted him, but at a high price, which is normal given our circumstances. So the big priority for this year is to ensure that he has enough to pay his way at whichever college he in the end decides to go to. If my training suffers, that does not matter too much. All that really matters is that I don't get too busy.

1 comment:

ShirleyPerly said...

Happy Belated Chinese New Year!!

Sorry to hear your pool is so cold. It must not be covered overnight. Mine is and I think it has bottomed out at 66 degrees. I have to use a wetsuit, though, or else I could not swim for more than probably 20-30 min.

Lovely flowers and I hope that mtn bike will fit you!