Cycling in Taiwan

Taiwan is fast becoming a cycling mecca with people coming from all over the world to cycle in and around the country. As an increasingly avid cyclist myself I am starting to do longer and longer rides. The articles below are a list of all the different blogs I have done on my cycling trips in Taiwan. As you can see, they get progressively longer with time. Some of the best rides I have done are certainly circumnavigating Taiwan and also the two day East Rift Valley. I recently bought a Garmin 800 so all articles on cycling in 2012 include GPS maps that show the route more clearly.

Bike at Lotus Lake

P1310783 This time I definitely bit off more than I could chew! Riding to Toucheng and back would have been fine if I didn't take the Yilan First Highway (宜1). If I had just ridden straight to Fulong (福隆) on Road 2 and then turned left through Gongliao (貢寮) I would have been fine. However, I decided to do the loop through the mountains and I can honestly say, this was my toughest day on the bike yet. For me it was a monster ride and I think I still need to train more to do it effectively. I left home at 5:30 am and only got back at 8:00 pm: 14.5 hours out on the road is too long. Still, I am proud that I got to the end and now I know how tough this one is. Also, it is a beautiful ride! You first ride to Pinglin(坪林), then Toucheng (頭城), then along the coast to Daxi (大溪), over the mountains to Shuangxi (雙溪) and then through the (lower) mountains to Shenkeng (深坑) and home. It is a beautiful ride but a tough one and you need to be fit and have stamina to get through it.

Mountain Clouds along the North 31 (北31) Road The Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫) (Wikipedia page) is located in Taoyuan (桃園) and I was told is a decent destination for a day's ride. I have never been there before so when I was recently invited by a Church friend, Ming, to ride with him and another mate, David, to the Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫), I agreed. Ming had previously invited me to ride there with him but we could never really find a compatible time. Ming and David typically ride a "straight-line" there and back route but I dislike those and prefer riding in loops so I can explore more. I suggested a route I had seen on Strava. Happily they agreed. The route proved to be an awesome adventure with a few decent climbs and a prolonged ride next to the reservoir. It was a great day out and riding around the reservoir is certainly a great thing to do and should be a part of anyone's riding itinerary in Northern Taiwan.

Mountain Clouds along the North 31 (北31) Road This was the ride I meant to do when I went on my ride to nowhere. I didn't quite do the planned route, but I still did what I set out to achieve, four big climbs in and around the mountains of Pingling (坪林). The last climb nearly destroyed me and I had to walk the final 2 km up the mountain, but it was still a great day out on the bike riding through the mountains, hills and tea fields of Pingling (坪林). The scenery up there is stunning and I was so happy to be out there, in the sun, breathing the fresh air, sweating and working hard. It was a great ride. If you like cycling mountains, this is certainly a ride you should consider. You won't regret it! You can modify the ride to your liking, but certainly the ride to Pingling (坪林) through the tea fields is well worth the effort (even if a little tough).

Mountain Clouds along the North 31 (北31) Road Today's ride didn't turn out as intended! Instead of doing the ride I had planned I went a different way. At some point I started to feel I was in the middle of a Talking Heads song on a Road to Nowhere. That of course happened after I drifted off course a few times. Before that though I felt I was riding through a Chinese painting and towards the end of the second major climb I felt I was in the middle of Vangelis' Heaven and Hell since half of that album is as painful to the ears as the lactic acid burn in my muscles, but the views were heavenly. Even though the ride lost its objective somewhere along the way, it was still a good 97 km grunt with 1,250 m of climbing. It was a great ride to nowhere. Loved being out there in the mountains.

Hsin Tien (新店) River on the way to Wulai (烏來) Cycling to Wulai (烏來), from Taipei (台北), is a regular route for me. It combines beautiful scenery with some nice, not too devastating climbs, and some good flats, with the promised reward of almond milk at the end of the trip. Yesterday (29 May 2013) I decided to do the Wulai (烏來) fork (my own name). The first road on the fork, that goes to the Tong Hou (桶后), trail is truly a ride along God's own road! Easily the MOST BEAUTIFUL road I have cycled on in Taiwan. Straight through the mountains with magnificent views of the river and vegetation and very little traffic. A tremendous reward for such great and challenging effort. The second road that goes past the famous Wulai (烏來) waterfall goes all the way up to the small village of Fushan (福山). This road is not as impressive as the first, but it is still stunning. It is well worth the effort and both roads are highly recommended!

Beautiful River View This is a ride I have been meaning to do for a while. Unfortunately ripping my AC ligament off the bone and tearing the meniscus ligament (both in the left knee) while playing rugby last year in October put paid to any cycling for a long long time. My knee is feeling better and I decided to do the massive North Coast loop (Monday, 20 May 2013). It was a good day for riding and I am glad to report that there was no significant discomfort and, apart from the usual aches and pains, the ride went off smoothly. The ride combines the ride from Fulong to Keelung (see Rain Riding to Fulong and Back) and the ride from Keelung to Tamsui (see Cycle Trip to Tamsui, via Keelung). The total route was about 187km. I managed to do it in under 12 hours.

At Fengguizui Last Saturday (11 August 2012) I had the chance to go for a bike ride. Nathan Miller suggested a route that was about 120km in distance and would see me ascend approximately 1,500m in a single day. I was kind of looking forward to the ride but would cut out about 40km from the ride. I was mostly interested in climbing the mountains than riding the flats. Nathan's route recommended I ride over the mountain to Wanli (萬里) on the North Coast in Taiwan. Then head to Sanzhi (三芝) and climb over Yangmingshan and back into Taipei. I decided to climb Yangmingshan from Jingshan (金山) instead that would cut a couple of kilometers off the route. Still was a great ride. The climb over Yangmingshan would be the reverse trip from when I previously climbed Yangmingshan.

Sunset Over Chihshang (池上) Taiwan's East Rift Valley (花東縱谷) stretches from Taidong all the way up to Hualien. After spending a weekend in Taitung with Queenie and some other friends, I decided to cycle through the rift valley all the way up to Hualien. It was an awesome experience and the one thing I will always remember is the tremendous sky above the valley in the late evening of the first day. It was a great 180km ride and a worthwhile experience. It is also an alternate route from Taitung to Hualien on any circumnavigation of Taiwan. The first day saw me ride 60km to a town called Chih Shang (池上) and the second day saw me ride about 120km from Chih Shang (池上) to Hualien. I think the whole valley can be ridden in a single day if you set out early enough.

Circuit of Taiwan In 2012 I spent an amazing two weeks cycling around Taiwan. I started in Taipei, rode to Kenting along the West Coast. From Kenting I headed North along the beautiful East Coast (including Suhua highway) and headed back to Taipei. I spent the first weekend in Kaohsiung with Queenie and our niece Rochelle and the second weekend in Suao with Queenie. It was an incredible experience and one I have no regrets of doing. If you love cycling and love Taiwan, I highly recommend you try to do this at some point in the near future. It is not as difficult as you think. It consists of riding approximately riding 100km a day for a 12 days and you would be done. This article is an overview of the trip with links to individual days and their associated pictures and GPS maps.

The Top - All Downhill from Here My first ever ride over Yangmingshan. Took me three hours to get to the top and 45 minutes to get to the bottom. It is a great ride. Lots of hard pedaling needed on the way up. Pretty tough most of the way but when I got to the top I felt brilliant and that I had actually accomplished something. I would do the ride again if given the chance. I climbed over Yangmingshan and then headed along the coast to Tamsui, stopping for lunch at a 7-11 in Jingshan. It is a good ride and well worth the effort. Coming down the back end of Yangmingshan the views are tremendous and worth the trip up. You appreciate the road much better on a bicycle than in a car or on a motorcycle as you are so much closer to nature. It is a brilliant ride and one that is often done by cyclists. There are many routes up Yangmingshan and I hope to have the chance to explore them more.

Fellow Riders in Fulong I chose to ride to Fulong today. Queenie was busy so I was free and decided to get on the bike and see how far I could go. It was an awesome ride and I made many new and wonderful friends along the way. The only trouble was, it rained most of the way and I was filthy by the end of the ride (no mudguard on the rear wheel threw all the crap in the puddles onto my back). It was a great ride and I had a tremendous sense of achievement at the end of it. It wasn't the longest ride anyone has done, but for me it was challenging and I am super pleased I got to the end. I left in the morning at around 10:15am and I got home at around 8:00pm: a full 10 hours on the seat of my bike. My friend Peter has posted an approximate map of the route I took here (thanks Peter).

Pacific Ocean Kipling once wrote: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same..." Today I felt I had met both triumph and disaster and I tried to bear these words in mind so as not to get too anxious over the situations that arose. Today I went on this incredible ride from my home in Taipei to Keelung (基隆) and then along the North coast road to Tamsui (淡水), passing Yehliu (野柳), Jin Shan (金山), Bashaiwan (白沙灣), San Zhi (三芝 and finally to Tamsui (淡水). The trip was also meant to include riding back from Tamsui (淡水). to home, another 28km stretch along the river but disaster struck at the end as the gear assembly on the back wheel got completely ripped out and my rear wheel seized up. The triumph of course was the trip, the disaster was the weather and the broken bike.

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