Insider: Taiwan KOM Challenge, The Details
In his final instalment, Jay Dutton gives us the run down on all the information needed to give the Taiwan KOM Challenge a go for yourself.
Words and photos: Jay Dutton
Images: Daebong Kim (VELO PAPER) | Taiwan Cycling Federation
China Airlines offer a few direct flights from Sydney to Taipei, but on this occasion I flew with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. Only adding about an hour in total transit time, the flexible choices available and ease of travelling with Cathay Pacific made for a smooth day of travel. An added bonus is Cathay’s 32kg baggage allowance – meaning my bike and a spare set of wheels would accompany me without additional expense.
During the race I stayed in the Hualien Parkview Hotel, an impressive 5-star hotel just North of Hualien City. The race organisers offer packages at an additional cost to the entry fee to stay here, and it was clearly the popular choice for majority of the participants. I’d been upgraded to a family room, and had more space than I knew what to do with! With two bedrooms, a spacious lounge area and amazing views of the mountains surrounding Taroko Gorge, all I could do was imagine just how good it would be to come back with a bunch of cycling buddies. As the race headquarters for registration, it’s close proximity to the start line, and offering the unprecedented chance to mingle with other riders from all over the world, I’d highly recommend anyone thinking of joining the challenge to experience the vibe here!
A massive thanks goes out to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau for offering the opportunity to participate in one seriously unforgettable event! Their efforts, alongside the Taiwan Cyclist Federation and members of the Hualien Local Government, have led to what was considered the most successful edition of the Taiwan KOM Challenge yet, with all indications suggesting continued growth looking in to the future too!
What – Taiwan KOM Challenge
Where – Taroko Gorge National Park, East Coast of Taiwan
How far – 107km in distance, but riding from sea level to 3,275m means average speeds vary!
When – The Taiwan KOM Challenge is an annual event usually held in late October, however a gran fondo version is now held earlier in the year, known as ‘The Road to the Taiwan KOM‘.
Price – Entry fee is approximately $200 AUD, however for an additional $600 AUD you can have two nights accommodation, important transportation and a number of other features included – an extremely efficient and viable option in my opinion!
More information – The Taiwan KOM Challenge Facebook Page constantly provides a range of relevant information and intriguing content regarding the race.
For the KOM Challenge, I stuck with my Merida Scultura Team bike and made only a few minor adjustments. Equipped with an 11-32 on Shimano Dura-Ace C24 Tubular wheels, I was pretty confident that this wheel choice combined with my usual semi-compact chainrings would provide me with sufficient gearing. With an average cadence off 100rpm for the four hours, I think this was suitable for me, as I spent quite a bit of time in my smallest gear particularly in the closing stages. Already a little under 6.8kg (which is acceptable in this event!), swapping out my alloy bars, Ultegra/Pioneer cranks for a Dura-Ace version, and a few other minor changes means I could really get the weight down if necessary!
Rider’s Tour Guide
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau had gifted me with Kevin Ho, a Taiwanese local who owns and operates his own Tourism Business alongside his father. Following completion of an International Business Degree in his younger years, a change of heart led him to further pursue English studies, and he is now in the process of finalising a Permanent Resident Visa for Australia. With extra ‘points’ available to applicants for regional areas, Kevin will be based in Darwin for two years, where he hopes to bring his entrepreneurial skills to his new surrounds!
Interesting Fact – At 25 years of age and solely his sense of adventure to guide him, Kevin decided he would ride the 1,200km perimeter of Taiwan on a folding bike! Giving himself a six-day deadline, he made it down the flatter, densely populated West Coast to the Southern most point of Taiwan in just over 2 days. All that was left was the return up the East Coast – an extremely mountainous and unforgiving route, with some beautiful coastal views when the terrain allowed him to take a glimpse!
Brew of Choice – Caramel Macchiato…
By the numbers
Official time – 3:43:13
Place – 23rd overall, 3rd M20, 4th Australian
Distance – 105km
Metres Gained – 3,800m
Cadence – 100rpm
Heart Rate – 162bpm
Power – 228w (3.6wpkg)
Calories – 3300