After having covered about 1000 km in rain mode, I was comfortable enough to switch over to street mode. I had noticed a bit of lagging power a few times in some bends, and I knew that once I noticed this, I need to unlock the full 180 hp of the Beast. To be honest, I barely noticed the difference, especially at low speeds. At high speeds, and when you are accelerating away, it does pull away very quickly, but I haven’t noticed the wheel coming up at all, at least not for now.
Every week, I go on a ride. My summer schedule is hectic enough that I don’t really have time to ride during the week. I usually go around on my 150cc scooter, and that’s enough for city driving. In the fourth week, I went on a long ride through Pingxi to Long Dong Bay. It’s quite famous, and it has some cliff diving. The drive there was peaceful. Since I had a passenger, I wasn’t pushing it, but there are plenty of aggressive car drivers, who won’t give motorcycles the time of day. They try to edge into your lane, driving dangerously. On my second ride there, I had no trouble since I was alone, and I was driving quite fast. I passed almost everyone.
But first, we went to the wrong place, and ended up going to some barred off pool where divers usually go to take lessons. By the time we realized our mistake, it was already 1PM, and we wanted to take it easy, so instead, we rode directly to Fulong. Fulong was nice and relaxing. The waters were cool, but no deep swimming was allowed, at least at the place where I was at. We took the 2 back home.
In the fifth week, I took a longish ride with a colleague, who has been riding for a few years. We went to Guangxi, and then went on to the Hsinchu Technology Park. Unfortunately, the pace was a bit too slow for my taste, and it was also familiar territory, as we rode by Baoshan, where one of the TT Club riders had an accident a few weeks ago. The good thing about this was that I knew how to get back quickly, and we hopped onto the expressway back to Taipei. We took the 68, faced the same construction on the 61, and then went back home on the 64. All in all, there are only a few noticeable speedcams on this route, so it’s easy to go fast. It’s quite exhilarating, and I topped off at 170 kph on my way home.
In the sixth week, I went on a group ride with the TT Club again. We were supposed to ride to a ranch near Taroko, but ended up just going to Yilan and back, due to the poor road conditions. Apparently, there were leaves all over the roads in Taroko, making it quite unsafe to ride. I was a bit disappointed, as I learned about this after we arrived at Yilan, and after their one hour break. However, I got a lot of pointers from the more experienced riders on how I take my corners, and my riding stance. It definitely helped a lot.
In the seventh week, I went back to Yilan. The plan was to go to Nanao in the south of Yilan County, but the TT Club left too late in my opinion (9:15AM). I was following some experienced riders, all the way to the 33km mark, where they took their one hour break at a tea shop. I just rode on to Yilan, took a break there, and rode back, making it in about 50 minutes (Yilan -> Taipei). I actually scraped my shoe on the pavement because I was leaning so much.
They had smartly paired me up with some supersports going quite fast at the front of the pack, while the instructors stayed at the back with the learners and the rental bikes. I have to say that it didn’t take them long to distance me, even on my best pace. They know the road pretty well, and can take the corners a lot more aggressively than me. They are somewhat reckless when passing, but to each his own. I did get back to them a few times, only to lose them again. I quite enjoyed the way back by myself, concentrating on taking the apex of each corner, and working on the way that I took the hairpin bends on the beginning of the ride. I think that next time, I’ll have to time my ride. I think that I got around the 48 minute mark, but I’m unsure. It was under 50 minutes, but only a bit.
I am getting better at the corners on this challenging road. I can see why people just ride it over and over again. There are different stretches to Road 9. The first part is an introduction, with some long stretches. Then, it goes mental in the mountains. corner after corner, you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster ride. By the time we get near to Yilan, it changes once again. Past Toucheng, the road is longer, with less turns, and fills up with wide, hairpin bends down to Yilan.
This week, I plan on going to Jiufen if the weather is nice, but at cruising speeds. I’m not sure where I’ll go Sunday morning. I don’t travel with a motorcycle photographer. Most of the iconic corners are staked out by photographers, who will post their photos on Facebook the same day. You just have to sort through thousands of photos to find yours. They usually take photos of almost all big bikes that come by.
ODO: 1789 km