October 29, 2015/ Maria Parker
I’ve just returned from a visit to Taiwan for Taichung Bike Week with our Cruzbike designer, Jacob. We visited with the wonderful people who make Cruzbikes for us. A few years ago, Jacob lived in Taiwan designing bike pedals. He loves Taiwan, especially the people of Taiwan, and is familiar with the language, culture, food and public transportation system there. Having him as a traveling companion made my experience there all the more fantastic.
Our first couple of days we had meetings in Taichung with the companies who make the various parts of our bikes and accessories. We spent time ironing out details of the S30 order our frame maker is currently working on and had a meeting with the supplier of a new accessory we are developing, a carbon fiber case that will attach to the S30 and V20 headrest. We also talked with various suppliers of accessories and CNC parts. The experience, and Jacob’s patient explanations, furthered my education on bicycle parts terminology and how bikes are manufactured.
We spent one full day touring the, frame, fork, hydroform tube and assembly factories in and around Dajia, Taiwan. The hospitality we experienced was amazing. The owners and managers of each factory we visited carefully shuttled us to the next factory we had an appointment with, making sure we had lunch and transportation both to and from our hotel in Taichung. We are a relatively small bicycle company, but were treated as VIPs everywhere we went.
Mixed in with all the meetings we ate delicious Taiwanese food wherever and whenever we could. Though I am an italian lover-of-food-of-all-kinds, I discovered a special affection for the gastronomy of Taiwan. I could not get enough of the textures and tastes. As soon as my stomach would signal half full, Jacob would lead me to a new delicacy. I especially loved the street food of the famous “night market” of Taiwan. I am obsessed with a Taiwanese invention called Bubble Tea or Pearl Milk Tea, which is a mixture of tea, milk and tapioca balls. It’s served with a large diameter straw so you can suck up the chewy (often black in color) tapioca balls. It sounds weird, and it is, but I love it. I’m trying to figure out how to make it for myself now that I am home.
We went to a Beer Festival (Beer Fes Taipei) and had the surreal experience of doing something that felt rather familiar, tasting lots of varieties of craft beer in a drunken crowd of young people, but was completely Taiwanese in it’s manifestation. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I would describe it to friends and family back home, but ended up deciding that it is something you just have to experience.
We ended our visit to Taiwan with a trip to Taroko National Park, a beautiful part of the mountainous center of Taiwan. Our tour guide was an outspoken polyglot explaining everything in at least three languages while herding us from one stunning view to the next. Jacob and I were inspired by the incredible natural beauty of the area and promised ourselves we would repeat the visit on Silvio S30s so we could experience it in a more leisurely fashion.