Summer seems to be peaking here on the Beautiful Island, though perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part. Daytime temperatures have hovered in the low 30s°C or in the mid-90s°F (for readers who don’t do Celsius). No matter what scale you use it’s hot, the sort of heat that makes wise people stay indoors or head out to the beach or into the mountains. But wisdom has never been my strong suit and having just discovered a newly installed Youbike station around the corner from my new apartment in Taipei’s Muzha district, my main form of outdoor activity this week has taken the form of short, intense rides through the streets of Taipei.
An explanation may be in order for readers unfamiliar with our fair city’s public bike share program. What began as a collaborative program between Taipei city and global bicycle giant Giant (sorry, couldn’t resist) has in less than a decade blossomed into the arguably the world’s most successful urban bike share program, used heavily by locals and visitors a like. In a nutshell, registering your Easy card into the system (which you only need to do once) allows you to borrow one of the three-speed orange Youbikes from any Youbike station and ride it as long as you like. When you return it (to any other Youbike station – they’re all over Taipei), you tap your card and the system charges you based on how long you keep the thing out.
Rates are super cheap (free, sometimes, depending on where you start), and while a Youbikes is hardly something I’d want to do the KOM (Taiwan’s grueling King of the Mountain race, which climbs from sea level to 3170 meters in 100 KM) on, I’ve seen more than a few riders making the trek from Xindian station to Wulai on Youbikes. I think anyone who’d ride a Youbike to Wulai is a bit bonkers, but in my younger days, I used to Rollerblade to Wulai and back regularly, so…who am I to judge?
This Sunday I’d made tentative plans to head into the mountains to do some river tracing, but it seems as if mother nature may have other ideas. According to the Central Weather Bureau, a tropical storm (or baby typhoon, as I like to call ‘em) named Nesat is threatening to cover the Beautiful Island with “unstable weather.”
Unstable weather + river tracing = recipe for disaster. I think I’ll spend Sunday in an air conditioned movie theater instead. Perhaps I’ve grown wiser with age after all.
Until next week,
Joshua Samuel Brown