Four Thousand Miles on Three and a Half Continents

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03/10/2008| 0 comments
by Paul Rogen
Paul pausing with Chinese ladies.
Paul pausing with Chinese ladies.

Four Thousand Miles on Three and a Half Continents

Today we got a break from the wintry ice of the last two weeks. I, along with two good riding buddies took advantage of fifty degree weather to get out on our bicycles for twenty five glorious miles of Connecticut countryside. Coming back late in the afternoon, with the sun low and powerless, long shadows were cast by the roadside trees. I felt like a laser beam cutting through bar codes as we descended down Long Hill Road from Lake Quonapaug. We were giggly and silly getting back home knowing we “snuck one in” this early in the season.

Today we got a break from the wintry ice of the last two weeks. I, along with two good riding buddies took advantage of fifty degree weather to get out on our bicycles for twenty five glorious miles of Connecticut countryside. Coming back late in the afternoon, with the sun low and powerless, long shadows were cast by the roadside trees. I felt like a laser beam cutting through bar codes as we descended down Long Hill Road from Lake Quonapaug. We were giggly and silly getting back home knowing we “snuck one in” this early in the season. We all joked about our recent holiday weight gains and promised to get back down to summer trim soon so we could be ready for a Trans Pyrenees trip next June. That is going to be nearly 600 miles in eight days so we better be ready. Today was a tiny head start on that 2008 riding and traveling program.

All during the ride today I kept reflecting on all the places I had been in 2007: In summary I had ridden a bike on three and a half continents. Let me explain.

I started off 2007 riding in Panama. This is where the half continent comes in. Panama is on the isthmus between North and South America. It is clearly in Central America, but which America does that fall into? Geographers will say North America, but here is a little peanut country which is south of much of Venezuela. It is Spanish speaking but uses US dollars as currency. We turned the canal back over to the Panamanians sometime late last century. So it is mixed, right between North and South America. That is why I call it a half in terms of continents bagged on the bike in 2007.

Plus the riding was fascinating but really compromised: short stuff on rough old mountain bikes. The amazing thing was that I was there and we did it. I was riding with my partner and friend, Allen who is building a house on Boca's del Torro, an archepelego on the Caribbean side of Panama. Mostly, I used the bike for local transportation for a week but a couple of days we crossed the island and met some young locals, Winston and Duncan. The roads were pot-holed and irregular, often flooded after tropical rains. We kept hearing howler monkeys but never found any. However, we did find the far side of the island and white sand beaches

In June I went to the Orient and rode first in Taiwan and then on mainland China. Now this is really another continent and even another world. In Taiwan, I had a difficult time cracking out of the city of Taipei. I was again on a compromised bicycle, but it allowed me to blend in with all the other commuters and suck the sweet, noxious fumes of the myriad motor scooters. After a week in Taiwan primarily around Taipei University and environs, I leaped over to the mainland. In China I was again with compromised equipment as

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