Once In A Lifetime

Riding with Huang Ting-Ying

Through 36 hairpin turns on Meishan

It was a fine day when Huang Ting-Ying rode through Meishan. Waking up early at 6am, Huang Ting-Ying was in an exceptionally delightful spirit. There were many popular cycling routes with gorgeous views, such as Wuling, Yangmingshan, or many locations of Tour de Taiwan. But the 36 hairpin turns on Meishan in Chiayi County sounded challenging and was the route Huang Ting-Ying highly recommended as a must-do ride of a lifetime.

Huang Ting-Ying compared riding in Meishan with riding in Europe. The route seemed winding but was in good condition, with the morning breeze and fresh air she effortlessly climbed up to the first turn. After each turn, Huang Ting-Ying would stop and enjoy the different views above sea level as well as spared some time for selfies to record her feelings along the way. Since she was not in a race, she was able to indulge in the spectacular views. “I remember as I rode to the 28th turn at about 800 meters above sea level, looking down from the mountain I could see the sunlight spread across the meadow; it was breathtaking. By the 35th turn, the end was near,and all the turns were right in front of me, as smiles documented my track and made me very happy. Flowers such as daisies with different colors were at each turn; with poinsettia and green trees, the view was amazing!”

Huang Ting-Ying laughed with contentment, as if the 36 hairpin turns were not at all exhausting and the amazing view filled her with energy. “The 36 hairpin turns on Meishan was a trip of enjoyment and gave a sense of achievement. Keep a cheerful mood, find your own pace, and ride up one turn at a time. Each turn has its own view and surprise. It’s a route suitable for the whole family.”

Cheerful when cycling

Youth of Huang Ting-Ying gained on strength and life

Since childhood, Huang Ting-Ying enjoyed sports. She joined the Merida bike team when she attended Nanzih Junior High School. The team was like a family with greater cyclists gathered from all places, which unfold Huang’s dream of cycling the world. “Training of the team is systematic. Whenever I saw the seniors participate in a race on behalf of Taiwan, they befriended cyclists all around the world, sharing and communicating with each other. Their performance and their manner impressed me, making me want to be like them.”

Huang Ting-Ying had followed the training program designed by her coach and became the national athlete for the youth race at the age of 17. She broke the world record at the 2007 Mexican World Youth Cycling Championship, fulfilling her dream one step at a time. “Though my cardiopulmonary function is quite good from the swim training in elementary school, the intense concentration and physical exhaustion from daily intense training sometimes makes me want to quit, with demons and angels struggling in my mind. There was also competition among peers.

My family and coach kept encouraging me to not care about what others think and not let others affect me. The joy after pain from persistent practice is as sweet as a piece of dark chocolate.” Huang Ting-Ying laughed. She did not enjoy studying when she was a child, so she was very glad that studies were not the only thing she had during her school years, that her youth was built on strength and life.

The course of life is like the 36 hairpin turns on Meishan. One will need to go through the 36 turns to appreciate the beauty of the winding road that leads to the peak. The severe setback when Huang Ting-Ying fought for the qualification of 2012 Rio Olympics almost resulted in her giving up her cycling career. “I was really frustrated. The Olympics are the supreme temple of athletes. And, it takes another four years if you miss the current one.”

Huang Ting-Ying still remembers her frustration. However, when God closes a door, He opens another window. Coach Yang Dong-Zhen suggested for Huang Ting-Ying to switch from omnium to road race. “Fear came at first, because the distance in road race started from 100 kilometers which is an entirely different level from the maximum of 80 kilometers in track race.” But Huang Ting-Ying accepted the challenge, and this change took her to another climax of her career as a professional cyclist.

Creating a career peak with road racing

Crisis can lead to opportunity. Huang Ting-Ying won the gold medal of road racing in the 2013 East Asian Game and so confirmed her choice of coach. Winning the first runner-up in all around ranking during the 2016 UCI Women's World Tour race: Tour of ChongMing Island, Huang Ting-Ying became famous in the world of road racing and won herself a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics. And, there was yet another surprise for her. Her coach made arrangements for her to participate in the women’s Giro d’italia representing the Sevetto Biusta professional team of Italy!

“This is a 10-consecutive day international game with cyclists all over the world, which is in a whole different level compared to the Asian games I was used to participating in. Over half of the cyclists were world champions. The 10 days were very painful and the race seemed endless; it was a hellish experience. But it also made me grow rapidly.” After participating in the Giro d’italia with a professional team, Huang Ting-Ying experienced the strength of the great cyclists of the world and the environment of a professional race. The experience refined her firm and brave resolution at each race.

Many were surprised with Huang Ting-Ying’s petite size,yet she performed so remarkably in the road races where much stronger rivals were all around. Aside from her own strong will and her power output, her bicycle has been her reliable partner along the way. “I especially was grateful for Velo to tailor a saddle to suit my needs. A saddle is the support center of a bicycle. I am tiny so Velo designed a special short saddle for me to perform my best while conforming to race rules. The great performance came from power conversion!” Huang Ting-Ying laughed as she said it. During a race, the energy of body and mind burst to the maximum and to the extreme. Each link is very crucial.

From youth races all the way to the Olympics; Huang Ting-Ying went through quite a number of battles. Her focus now is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Putting aside winning or losing the race, Huang Ting-Ying also enjoys life and cherishes the wonderful things of here and now. You may encounter Huang Ting-Ying at Meishan or any corner in Taiwan, riding her bike leisurely, or enjoying the nature and the breeze. Don’t forget to say “Hi!"