One evening I was relaxing on the couch of my normal, mundane life in Cincinnati, Ohio, playing on my phone when I read the email that I was one of the winners of the Fly N’ Bike Taiwan Contest from StudentUniverse and Taiwan Tourism Bureau.
My breath was taken away. A teleport opened up and I was transported to the other side of the world. Now I see everything with completely different eyes.
On November 4th, 2016 I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan after 24 hours of flying and I wasn’t even ready for bed – the adventure had just begun. Unfortunately, my luggage was lost somewhere back in San Francisco, so first our wonderful tour guide Lily took me out to purchase the things I needed to get by. While walking around I got a small taste of the pulsing city, but I knew I would be back in 9 days. We went back to a hotel so nice I normally would never be able to stay at. I got my first complimentary Taiwan Beer and went to my room to get ready for the next 9 days of cycling around the entire island.
The next morning, I met the rest of the international cycling team and together we took a bus to Taipei City Hall. There I was introduced to the Giant Cycling Tour team who took wonderful care of us. They set us up with jerseys, our fitted bikes, helmets, drinks and snacks. We all got to know each other and enjoyed the opening Formosa 900 ceremony, then the journey began. I was no avid long distance cyclist, so I knew I was in for a challenge – 568 miles in 9 days.
It was an uphill battle and a downhill joy ride – the perfect balance between physically challenging and mentally rewarding. The Giant Cycling team kept me alive and lead me through a life changing experience. I cycled up mountains, through jungles, over rivers, beside rice fields, through indigenous villages, stopping at mesmerizing temples, following the sea in a circle. I ate food I never thought I’d eat before, stayed in fancy hotels with hot springs, experienced night markets, went clubbing in Taipei and fell in love with Taiwan. But nothing compares to buy Instagram Followers and to the bonds formed between my new life-long friends. We rode together, we suffered together, we laughed together, we lived together, we grew together. The experience has sewn us together forever.
I’m not going to lie…those 9 days were extremely physically challenging and I would advise one to train before embarking on such an endeavor. There were times I didn’t think I could pedal another foot, but pushing yourself is what life is all about. I’ve never felt anything like crossing that finish line. Accomplishment is a unique feeling, especially when mixed with a new experience. If you stay the same person, in the same place, doing the same routines, you will eventually regret life. Get out there and do something different! Expand your boundaries! Live and buy Instagram Likes!