Taiwan is a place of diversity and extremes: from busy factories to dense jungle, from white sand beaches to snow-capped peaks, from deep marble gorges to bustling city; Taiwan has it all. I had an image of what to expect when I first made the trip to Taiwan 2 years ago. My mind conjured up images of concrete sprawl, skyscrapers, and smog-spewing chimneys littering the skyline. The oft-seen label "Made in Taiwan" is testament enough to the sheer scale of industry. However, I was about to see another side of Taiwan altogether.
With a huge part of the mountain bike industry based in Taiwan, long time freerider, Richie Schley made the pilgrimage to experience a side of the bike world that often goes unseen. This is his experience.
Despite the 23 million inhabitants of the island, the mountains remain somewhat neglected. Perhaps due to an inherited fear carried down over the generations from days when head hunting tribes ruled Taiwan's mountains or the ever-present threat of dangerous landslides, its mountains maintain a certain mystique. It's this that adds to a sense of isolation or remoteness when exploring the mountains, a stark contrast to the shoulder-to-shoulder feeling of a westerner in busy Taipei.
Special thanks to Rob Dunnet for his roll in creating this piece. His translating and navigating were crucial to the adventure.
Video/Words: Aaron LaRocque
Rider: Richie Schley
Photo: Rob Dunnetwww.ixs.com