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American IP monetization firm advisor makes biking part of his life in Taiwan

Donald Merino rides nearly 50 km to work and back home almost every day, transforming his life

Donald Merino (<a href="" target="_blank">Donald Merino</a> photos)

Donald Merino (Donald Merino photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Donald Merino, senior consulting advisor at Tech+IP LLC, an intellectual property (IP) and monetization service provider, has made cycling a part of his life in Taiwan by riding nearly 50 kilometers to work and back home almost every day, finding a passion for the sport that will last forever.

On Monday (Sept. 27) Merino sat down with Taiwan News to share his cycling experiences in Taiwan and talk about other related subjects.

Merino said he got on his bike, literally, about two years ago, after slipping on a wet floor in his home during an earthquake. He broke his hip and had an operation in January last year to put in an artificial hip bone.

It took him about a month to walk again and six months of rehabilitation, during which time he did a lot of swimming. Then he started to cycle and from June to December last year he traveled 2,700 km.

He doubled down and as of Thursday (Sept. 30), he had cycled 4,943 kilometers, nearly achieving his goal of doing 5,000 km by Oct. 6, his birthday.

Most of his rides were along Taipei's riverside bike paths. “The sad part is that I’ve done almost 5,000 km, and 4,500 km was on riverside paths, so I know every rock on those paths.”

Merino lives in Taipei City’s Donghu area, and his office is near Taipei MRT’s Nangang Station, which is not far, but he usually goes down the river to Dazhi Bridge, over the bridge and up to his office. It's about 23 km one way. When he goes home, he takes the same route.

'Slice of life'

For Merino, cycling serves many purposes, including a way to commute, exercise, and enjoy himself. He spends one-and-a-half hours riding his bike to his office, and the same amount of time riding home.

Most people bike on weekends, but Merino bikes to work four days a week, while weekends and rainy days are taken off. Talking about his cycling style, he said, “I don’t have a very fancy bicycle, and I ain't a fast rider. I jokingly like to say, 'I’m fat, old, and slow, but I am faster than the YouBike crowd.' I average about 17 to 19 kph on my ride.”

Speaking of the cycling environment in Taipei, he said most Taiwanese do not realize how wonderful the riverside paths are. He said the rides give him a "slice of Taiwan life.”

Some regular sights he sees while biking that amuse him are people playing the saxophone, couples practicing ballroom dancing, people jogging while pushing a dog pram, people walking dogs that wear small shoes, and a guy who runs with no shoes on.

While Merino rides, he usually listens to books on his phone, typically history, and he likes to look around and see people go by. He said he gets through one book every two weeks.

When he rides, he also enjoys seeing the changing cityscapes and beautiful mountain scenery. “I spent a lot of hours on that bike path this year, but between the people and the physical scenery, you never get bored,” he said.

Touching on the subject of the changes he experienced after resuming cycling, which he did quite a lot when he was in his 20s, he said, “Three hours a day. I find my mood is much better, I'm happier, and I do enjoy very much.”

On the subject of wearing masks while exercising outdoors, he said, “Rain with a mask is miserable, it’s like torture. Taiwan does such a great job of controlling COVID, but it’s not comfortable wearing a mask. It has been a big challenge for me for the last two and three months, wearing a mask to ride a bicycle.”

However, he has found a way out of the conundrum by wearing a special kind of mask that makes it easier to breathe during exercise and is more durable during rain. “I think maybe when they go to Level 1, they can review that, and say, look, you are more than six feet away (1.8 meters), you can go without a mask to do exercise. I’ll be very happy if they do that.”

'No smell'

Merino doesn’t like to ride when the weather is cold, but he swears a lot when he rides during warm weather. When he arrives at the office, his secretary looks him over a couple of times and asks if it is raining outside. He uses towels to sponge down, changes, and puts his clothes outside to dry, and when he gets home he has a good wash.

“One of the benefits of COVID is that I’m not doing that many face-to-face meetings, and usually I do a lot of meetings on Zoom, and nobody can smell you on Zoom,” he said.

Talking about some of the challenges he has faced as a cyclist, he said that he spends so much time sitting on a bicycle that he gets saddle sore. “My buttocks look like the bottom of my feet. It’s very rough, and I also had the problems of boils and muscle spasms. These are the problems you live with,” he added.

Merino said he never joined a cycling club because he couldn’t find a club for the fat, old, and slow. He said that there are three things he would like to do: A round-Taiwan ride, swim across Sun Moon Lake, and climb Yangmingshan, Alishan, and Yushan.

He also said that he would like to get a new bicycle that’s easy to take on the MRT and a train. He added that he plans to bike from Taipei to Keelung, have lunch there, then bike to Yilan and spend the weekend there and return home, maybe by train. He went on to say that he would like to bicycle around Kaohisung and Pingtung when he goes there for his birthday next week.

“Bicycling has become a part of my life,” Merino said.

American IP monetization firm advisor makes biking part of his life in Taiwan
American IP monetization firm advisor makes biking part of his life in Taiwan
(Donald Merino photos)