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The Ride

They took a sharp right turn onto Fuxing Road and began climbing in earnest. Homes and Buddhist shrines sprouted out of the thick semi-tropical forest on the mountain slope; no guardrails prevented a sheer drop on the opposite side. Jung-Shan was still leading, constantly downshifting and standing to pedal the more strenuous climbs. Although it was enticing to watch her lithe body in motion—the smooth rise and fall of her pumping leg muscles, the gentle sway of her hips, her beautiful shimmering pony tail dancing behind her—but the guys instinctively knew everyone had to take their turn pacing the ride. They rounded a nearly 180-degree turn and began another steep climb that slowed all four of them. David called out, “I got it,” and jumped into the lead.

Jung-Shan got right on David’s rear wheel and began drafting him. “Thank you,” she puffed. They formed a single line and took turns in the lead, one after another, sustaining the wind pocket to help each conserve energy. One rider pumped away for a minute or two, then dropped back for the next rider to lead the paceline. Not only did everyone begin to feel better, but the klicks went by much faster. At last they crested the final mountaintop where they stopped to rest, hydrate and take in the view of the rivers and the vast valley below.

“There is Taipei, of course,” said Jung-Shan, pointing. “The small river flowing east to west is the Keelung. We will ride to it. The larger one to the right is our old friend the Tamsui.”

“Awesome,” said Rick.