But first a quiz. Quick, knee-jerk answer: What is the opposite of Paris-Nice?!
Actually, two answers allow you entrance into the hallowed winner’s circle. Nice-Paris I suppose would be the technical opposite to the quintessential Race to the Sun. Acceptable answer number two is Tour of Taiwan. Or Tour de Taiwan, rather. Having been here in Taiwan for a full 22 hours now (after a ten minute taxi from my Spanish apartment, a 90 minute bus, a one hour check-in, a two hour flight, a five hour layover, a many hundred dollar and entirely worth it upgrade to business class hurdling me onto a thirteen hour flight, a two hour sinuous stroll throughout the Taipei airport, and an hour-and-a-half bus ride to the hotel) and having raced in four Paris-Niceseseses, I’m clearly something of an expert on the matter and can safely say that this is not your standard song and dance bike race like that other long standing one also kicking off tomorrow from roughly Paris to roughly Nice.
I’ll preface the differences by saying that I am pumped to be here! I’ve never been to this sliver of the world, nor any part of eastern Asia for that matter, and have wanted to for a very long time so this is a treat.
At a race like the Tour of Taiwan, you don’t just rock up with the standard European bike racing comforts for example a rock star bus, a quiver of bikes and wheels to choose from, and of your race belongings already there. Nay, that’s too easy. Instead, you travel with everything you need, so in this case a lot of bikes, twice as many suitcases, a handful of guy satchels (affectionately known as “man bags), boxes of boxes of bottles, food and nutrition, and yet no partridge nor pear tree.
Anywho, we spent most of the day today at the Taipei Bike Show, and spending the final few hours before a stage race cruising the floors of a massive cycling trade show is a first. Furthermore, the Taipei Bike Show itself is fascinating for a whole laundry list of reasons (coincidentally I hand-washed my own laundry today), but the two that come to mind are:
I. everyone and their uncle will proudly proclaim that the Taipei Bike Show is the biggest bike show in the world. Piquing my curiosity, I ask everyone what biggest means — square footage? turnout? number of vendors? greatest number of sumo wrestlers in attendance? — alas, no one has a clue. But they’re adamant that by some criteria, it’s the biggest in the entire world. Point taken. Albeit vaguely.
II. it’s not pronounced “Taipei Bike Show”, rather, it’s Taipeibikeshow! So not only is it uttered as one word, but it’s pronounced exceedingly fast. The rest of your sentence can be spoken at a normal rate, but Taipeibikeshow! rockets from one’s mouth at an alarming rate. TAIPEBIKESHOW!
This un-Paris-Nice also has an vast sushi buffet at the race hotel which is fantastic. Let’s be frank, what’s the opposite of overcooked pasta and undercooked chicken typical of French racing? Sushi.
Paris-Nice is not actually on the polar opposite side of the globe as Taiwan. Nova Scotia is twelve hours and therefore on the opposite spectrum of the globe than Taiwan… although Nova Scotia sits in the northern hemisphere just like Taiwan, so not technically the polar opposite, just the opposite according to a clock. Did you know that Nova Scotia is part of the Atlantic Time Zone, which sits one hour even further east than USA’s Eastern Standard Time? See, isn’t iamtedking.com fun? Hopefully you learn something new every time you visit. Fact of the day, or something like that, now go wow your friends.
Despite all these opposites, two things do come to mind making Tour of Taiwan similar to Paris-Nice. Pre-race interviews are a typical pre-race occurrance and I was able to score a I’m-a-wicked-local peace sign amid my interview. The gregarious interviewer loved it and gave me a high five.
Also it’s pouring rain here as we’re told it has been all week in Taiwan. So hopefully we too, just like in France, are having a race to the sun.
Oh, another opposite: I’m fairly sure they don’t have this bit of trivia in the Paris-Nice food court.