Mandi Takes Taiwan
Want to shout out Mandi and her friends they are bike touring in Taiwan this whole month !!!
Was talking with her about it at this past Cranksgiving and thought it would be great to introduce her to Su from Manhattan Portage and also work with local sewing champ Kristin on a custom bag for her trip!
They worked together and produced this frame bag, check it !
Mandi is documenting the trip on her ig @traumatic_insemination The pics and descriptions are great and I am feeling the rad vibes all the way back in NYC
Here are some questions I asked Mandi, check the answers:
*Why are you going on a bike tour of Taiwan?
Taiwan, aside from being one of the most beautiful places based on photos I have seen, could be considered the international hub for cycling. Most of the world’s bicycles and components are fabricated right on that little island. Not only is their fabrication game strong, but one of the main appeals for this trip is that the Taiwanese government has poured countless funds and resources into constructing a bicycle highway that circles around the island. Oh, and did I mention that wild camping is 100% legal? Yeah, this means any bush is mine! As somebody who roughs it and camps every night while touring, this is one of the biggest perks of all. The cycling community and infrastructure is the ultimate allure and I cannot wait to immurse myself in a wholly different culture and as for the language barrier, I see it as a fun and interesting challenge as this will be my first tour abroad.
*How long will it take and what distance are you planning to ride?
Sooo, Cycling Route 1, as it is called, is a paved highway separated from all other traffic that covers a total of 575 miles from Taipei to Taipei with a total of 122 rest stops that include drinking water, snacks, and bicycle tools. It really is quite incredible. However, I do plan to deviate from this route regurlaly for reasons such as: extensive coastal riding on the West Coast, beach camping, visiting bicycle fabrication factories such as Maxway and Manhattan Portage, riding up to Sun Moon Lake, visiting the southernmost point, and whatever the locals tell us is a must-see.
As for every major tour I do I try to take at least a month to do it, and it is usually in February as the NYC winters for a messenger who hails from Florida are difficult to the say the least.
*Are you traveling solo or with friends or in a group?
This is my second winter tour that I’ve oraganized and opened up to women, trans, and non-binary folks out there who live in places where winter is awful and would like to escape as well as those from pleasant climates. This year two women have confirmed with me that they will tag along on this trip, one of which is a well-seasoned bicycle tourist who has done the TransAmerica Bike And Build trip and is actually touring the Hawaiian Islands prior to flying to Taipei. The other woman I met at FWOD Brooklyn and moved to Asia permanently four months ago (first India, now she is in Thailand) and has never, ever done a bicycle tour before, which is where the route comes into play. These rides are meant to empower women and encourage them that bicycle touring is indeed, NOT scary and everybody can do it! We will be setting our own pace with a loose schedule that allows us to take it all in…meet the locals, eat all of the strange foods, camp in the most amazing of places, soak in all of the hot springs, hike the mountainous terrain of the East Coast, and take whatever the road throws at us with time to spare.
*Have you done bike tours before?
Some have called me the Touring Princess in the past. But it wasn’t always this way, I’ll tell you whut. After only having a couple of overnight trips under my belt, I embarked on my first ever bicycle tour, from Seattle to San Fransico. I was solo, it was November/December. To sum it up: 1000+ miles in freezing rain, alone, while camping. Wake up in the rain, ride in the rain, set up tent in the rain, sleep in the rain, and repeat. Half the time I had no reception and was in isolation for days with minimal resources and climbing mountains on a 87LB bicycle that had a compact double. It was definitely a learning experience and it challenged me physically and emotionally. Prior to that trip I felt like I had nobody to turn to to seek out advice on what to carry, how to build my bicycle, and what worked and what didn’t. Since that trip and many others I’ve had the pleasure of being a resource for the women of my cycling community to approach and inquire without intimidation.
*How do you prepare for a bike tour?
Buy a plane/bus/train ticket, have a bike, and do the damn thang. I’ll send over a photo of my pre-pack in the next day with my items broken down.
*Do you know karate?
I do not! But I’ve gotten into my fair share of fist fights being from Florida n’ all and I know how to shove somebody’s nose into the back of their face with my palm if they try to hurt me.
*What do you think about self defense situations when you are touring by bike?
When I solo tour I have a system. I have about 500 feet of paracord with little jingle bells, you know like the ones you put on your kitty? I wrap that around my tent site at tripwire height. I also carry a tiny padlock for the zippers on the inside of my tent (I keep the key in it for quick twisting when my bladder wakes me up). Before I fall asleep I place my knife and mace in the same location everynight and have practiced grabbing them in a quickdraw manner. Fortunately I have never had to deal with any bears or serial killers, however when I was touring the Everglades last February I was NOT prepared by the chubby gator hanging out by the bathrooms when I woke up early because bladders. In that case, just scuttle off.
*Have you ever dealt with sketchy situations on tour?
One time in Castle Rock, WA I rode in and went to the only restaraunt/bar combo in their one light town. There I met some pleasant folk who bought me beverages and two dinners and multiple people offered me places to sleep in order to get out of the rain. Several people inquired that since I was a five foot tall female alone on a bicycle in the wilderness if I had a gun. I did not. And then a gentleman offered me a .22 pistol. Now, I have my concealed carry permit that’s good in WA and I’m no stranger to firearms having owned them in the past before moving to NYC, but the serial number was scratched off. And then the following day about ten miles outside of Castle Rock I had stopped for gas station coffee and while consuming and shivvering I had an elderly man approach me and inquire if I had heard about the cyclist a couple days ago who had been shot in the chest point blank in a road rage incident after confronting a motorist who had driven closer than he had liked. Get me the fuck out of Castle Rock, please.
*Any words of encouragement for tour curious people?
JUST DO IT! Bicycle touring is by far one of the most amazing methods of travel. Faster than walking but slow enough to really admire and observe your surroundings. The smells, the climbs, the camping, the constant snacking, the road beers, the people who meet you who can’t wrap their brains around what you’re doing…there really is nothing like it. Every day is a huge achievement and it is immensely satisfying to feel completely self-sufficent. YOU got yourself to the scenic campground and YOU carried all of your food and shelter and YOU will carry it out and onto the next spot. It is a sensation of utter freedom and if you have to push your bike up the damn hill, you do it and nobody passes judgment because you’re getting to where you’re going by any means necessary. It tries you in ways you never imagined and you become a significantly stronger person after succeeding and making it out the other side. And when you reflect on your trip after it’s all over, you’re planning the next five years around tours because once ya get on the dangle train you just can’t stop!
Aaay Thanks for the Great Advice Amirite !!!
Check Mandi’s Pack List, Crucial!! :
-Six Moon Lunar Solo (tent) w/ 10 stakes and 1 pole
-Sea to Summit Spark (sleeping bag)
-Alps microfiber mummy liner
-Thermarest sleeping pad
-Sea to Summit pillow
-Sea to Summit bowl
-GSI outdoor coffee drip
-CRKT eatn’ tool
-telescoping weenie stick
-keychain can opener
-3L Platypus water bladder
-1 Platypus 750ML booze bladder
-2 water bottles
-4 pair chamois
-3 sludge metal t-shirts
-1 Smartwool tank top
-3 pairs modal underwears
-1 pair thick wool, 1 pair thin wool, 1 pair waterproof, 2 pair regular ol’ cycling socks
-one pair of jorts
-1 pair Smartwool leggings
-1 fleece turtle neck
-1 Uniqlo ultra light down jacket
-1 Patagonia Torrent Shell rain jacket
-1 pair Gore Wear rain pants
-1 pair Craft neoprene shoe covers
-1 pair full finger gloves
-1 pair fingerless gloves
-1 merino beanie
-Giro mtb shoes
-1 sports bra
-toothbrush and paste
-shampoo and conditioner
-camp hand and body towels
-Rock n Roll gold lube
-tubes (700×30 60mm)
-Kershaw Leek pocket knife
-Sinewave USB dynamo charger
-1 micro usb cable
-1 iPhone cable
-1 Lelo toy charging cable
-rear light, rear helmet lights
-Luci solar powered LED lamp
-cross stitching materials
-2 large Ortlieb City Roller panniers
-1 Revelate Deisgns Terrapin seatpost bag system
-1 Swift Industries Ozette handlebar bag
-3 Manhattan Portage accessory bags
-1 Manhattan Portage Midnight alley cat hip pouch
-1 custom Manhattan Portage/Sprstr Bags collaboration frame bag
-1 Manhattan Portage coin purse
-1 Sea to Summit E-vent compression sack (tent)
-2 Outdoor Research stuff sacks (clothing)
Ride Safe Y’All !!!
Thanks Kristin @sprstrbags for the rad bag, hope we can work together again soon !
Photo by Matthew Olive
Special shout out to Su and Manhattan Portage Glad we are all working together !