Moments In Time – Sunday In Taiwan
RESPECT YOUR BICYCLES
BY ERIK ELSTRAN
Our first morning started off with a short pedal around the block to breakfast at a place. Eliot our tour guide nonchalantly set his bike down in the street and started walking in. We hesitated, out of habit, and wondered, should we lock our bikes up or have someone stay out here?
Eliot shook his head laughing, “Nah you’re fine. Let’s go in and eat!”
Wow! A world where you don’t have to lock your bike up means there’s a lot less theft and more importantly, more trust. I also noticed that despite it usually being difficult to find a trashcan, the streets were pretty clean in the cities, especially considering their size. Imagine how different the world would be if people had more trust and respect for others. What if when you saw a cop you weren’t on your guard but rather comforted. I’m not saying Taiwan is perfect by any means, but I think widespread increased empathy is an essential catalyst for our advancement as a species, especially in these dark political times.
Ha anyways, all the Taiwanese locals we interacted with were extremely kind. The BMX scene is pretty small in Taiwan but everyone seemed pretty tight with each other and really into 90East which was kinda surprising ha. Some of the locals drove across the country to see us at multiple shop stops. We even ended up hanging out and riding street with some of them afterwards. I know I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, the best thing about BMX is community. BMX is family and it’s so cool to travel to the other side of the world and be reminded of that.
BY ERIK ELSTRAN
After our shop stop in Kaohsiung we ended up riding street with everyone at a college on top of a hill. We had a few mini contests and gave out some Sunday goods, typical jam debauchery. Someone mentioned this spot nearby so we trekked up and down a bunch of hills in the campus to get to this hubba which turned out to be a bit further away than we expected.
During our journey we quickly discovered the campus was full of monkeys. They had angry red faces and weren’t the happiest when provoked, which we inevitably did because when do you get to interact with wild monkeys? Chris and I got to the hubba first which wasn’t anything too special with its super short run up. However it had a pretty cool view, and it felt like a spot you would never find unless you lived there. With all the effort it took getting there we were going to try to make something happen anyway. We sat and waited for 10 minutes or so for Walter and Brett to join us, who we later we found had ventured into a pack of monkeys and nearly been attacked (watch the video).
When they finally made it to the spot I told Walter I wanted to tire-ride down the hubba, which was now crawling with monkeys. I grabbed a bag of sunflower seeds I had bought the day before and climbed up the stairs. I stopped and offered some seeds to a monkey who was sitting on top of the hubba. He greedily took them from me and piled them into his mouth. I sat the bag down on top of the ledge across from him.
I bet he’ll grab these after I go down, I thought as I positioned myself towards the hubba and monkey.
I pushed off and preloaded for the hop. At that exact moment the monkey jumped, and a for split second I thought at me. The monkey, however, jumped to the side of me and darted from ledge to ledge. In mere seconds it had snatched the bag of seeds and propelled off the ledge to a nearby tree. All the locals that had followed us to the spot erupted with laughter, making for quite a comically cinematic moment that I’m stoked Walter caught on camera.
BY BRETT SILVA
Taiwan is easily the coolest place I have ever been. Amazing spots, crazy food, and some of the nicest bike riders I have ever met. One of the funniest moments of the trip was when we showed up to this bike shop in Taichung and all the kids were so stoked. When we rolled up this dude started handing us these drinks in glass bottles which seemed to be beers, so I immediately started drinking one. It wasn’t until after a few gulps I realized everyone was laughing and the drink started to taste really unusual. I don’t even remember what the drink was called but our awesome tour guide Eliot told me it was basically like drinking a Red Bull with alcohol and a pack of cigs in it. Whatever it was it got me feeling pretty weird. Those kids at that shop were such good dudes though. I’m stoked I got to make them laugh.
So much cool stuff happened on this trip it’s really hard to focus on just one moment. Another day, we showed up at this big campus to ride some bikes and I saw a monkey. It literally blew my mind; I had no idea that Taiwan even had monkeys. The local guys told me that they were all over the place and to watch out because they will take your food or bags. We showed up to a spot that Erik and Chris were eyeing up for some clips and I decided to take a little walk around to try to find some more monkeys. I was pretty far from the crew when I found a path with monkeys in the distance, so I decided to check it out. By the time I was deep into this path I realized I was totally surrounded by monkeys. They were on every side of me and all above me in the trees and it started to get pretty scary. I started to laugh a little and the monkeys got pretty aggressive, because I guess they get offended when they see human teeth. One of the monkeys lunged at me and I got so spooked. I ran back so fast to find Walter because I knew he would love to see this. I brought Walter back into the woods so we could get some footage of these monkeys and they were even more upset. The more I laughed the more pissed these guys got. Now that I look back on it I was really close to getting attacked by one of these bad boys but it was so worth it. I would do anything to walk down that same path again. Taiwan was such a great first experience overseas and I’m so happy to have shared it with such an awesome crew. Thank you Sunday Bikes, Walter, Chris, and Erik for the amazing times. Looking forward to sharing more wild experiences with these guys.
BY CHRIS CHILDS
With each trip that passes, it’s hard to believe that my BMX bike was the means of me getting there. Everyone knows Taiwan is a mecca in the bicycle manufacturing industry, but with that what gets lost is maybe the whereabouts of where Taiwan is actually located, or how much each and every rider there really cares about riding and riding culture, taking in those just passing through in true BMX fashion. Language barriers aside we all know BMX is the shit, and as long as we have that in mind, we can’t help but be stoked even if that means we’re driving ourselves face first into the ground or mobbing through the streets to the local session spots.
By now we all know Taiwan is stacked with spots but sometimes you need a little kick in the ass to get your trip off to the right start. Eliot, our guide for the trip, had something similar in mind and brought us to this huge seawall where the spots were aplenty, from wall rides and manny pads to an awesome concrete box jump. Jokingly, the idea of jumping off the wall into the bank came into play, and the nerves began to tremble through my body with an uneasy doubt of bending the mind enough to make it happen.
When a setup like this arises both the fear and excitement become one, coming together to push you over the edge of what you think you can withstand. So, while climbing the wall and making my way to the top, I am now fully immersed in the heavy gusts of wind coming from the ocean that this wall was holding back. The painted concrete slick from the weather, cracked, and bumpy, I have my sights set on where I need to take off and where I expect to land. Once a quick evaluation is made and I’ve made my way back down I give Walter the okay and he sets up his array of camera equipment.
Nervous, more or less of the hike back up the wall with my bike in tow, the top is reached and now the real calculations start to throw their nerves into my bones. Feeling out a run up, I set a penny on the edge where I expected to take off. Giving myself enough room from the point of take off to landing, seeing it as a gap and not just a drop, my momentum would be a key factor in bracing myself for this descent.
Walter gives me the OK and all the cameras are ready to rip. A quick thumbs up and “shit, am I really about to jump off this thing…. there’s the marker, pop and tuck” and now we’re free falling baby. Both tires make contact appropriately and hey I’m still riding this thing. For some reason the urge to do it again with a little zest on top hit, and I’m already thinking forward, ready for another run up still jonesin’ from the last hit.
A few adjustments were made and we’re ready for take off. Taking into consideration the wind and how it may catch me off guard, ole’ faithful (toboggan) is my go-to. A slight gust of wind catches me off guard but at this point there’s nothing to do besides committing. The landing this time around was a bit rough, but now I can leave satisfied, just knowing I had little more to give to this spot.
First spot, first move, and now we’re ready to bring the mutha flipping ruckus. Shout out to Walter, Erik, Brett and Eliot for not hesitating on the thought of making this setup a reality. Goes to show with the right people on your back and the right motivation you can exceed even some of the greatest fears you might have when sending your bike over, on, and down the scariest set ups.