Cycling Taiwan's North Coast - 187 km

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.

Beautiful River View
Mountain View on the way to Fulong

The Route

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. I was hoping to do 200 km within 10 hours but I am still not fighting fit and even if fit, that target would be ambitious. Briefly, I cycled to Shenkeng, passed through Shiding and headed out to Fulong. From Fulong I just followed the coastal highway to Tamsui and then headed along the river side path back to Taipei.

Beginnings - Not really up to it

I mentioned my intention to do this ride to Queenie and a few friends last week, but when I woke up rain was threatening and I was concerned about my leg. I haven't cycled too much in the past 6 months and my recent attempt at a 100 km ride (ride to Yingge) met with disaster as I had severe cramps at the 45 km mark and had to quit at 88 km. The following week I managed to do a 60 km ride to Wulai without too much trouble but I was still concerned.. Anyway, the morning I was going to ride I sat around the house for about 40 minutes procrastinating and then at 7:00 am I decided to head out and see how far I could get. I had no regrets.

Riding to Fulong

Shenkeng - Early Morning
Early Morning Shenkeng

The first part of the trip to Fulong wasn't nearly as difficult as I remembered. Some of the climbs were as slow as I remembered but nothing really tough and nothing that caused any severe discomfort. I first headed down Hoping East Road to the Road 106. Then turned left and headed off into Shenkeng without any incident or fuss. Of course there was some traffic but nothing too difficult that I couldn't deal with.

From Shenkeng I just followed Road 106 through the mountains passing some of the smaller towns such as Shihding, Pingxi, Shifen, Shuangxi and Gongliao. Riding along this road was good since after leaving Shenkeng there wasn't much traffic and the mountain road was beautiful (as you would expect). When I got to Shifen I carried on straight instead of taking the turn off to Road 2. I just had my head down and was drifting happily along the road. After going off course for 1 km I realized my mistake, asked an older gentleman the way and he happily advised me of where to go. Although it was slower than I remembered, the views were still amazing and I loved being back in the mountains and back on my bike. Some of the views are shown below.

Riding through Shiding

Beautiful View from the Road
Beautiful Views on the the Way to Fulong

River View in the Mountains
Beautiful Views on the the Way to Fulong

I rode into Fulong in 3 hours 20 minutes, slightly slower than I was hoping for but I forgot about the mountains and their slowing effect. Ideally this would be a 3 hour ride (or less).  I stopped in the 7-11 for a couple of bananas, a Supao, a snickers bar and some water. After a 10 minute break I turned the bike around and headed for Keelung.

Onward to Keelung

Keelung Harbor
Keelung Harbor

After turning my bike around at the 7-11 I started to ride up towards Keelung. As I have mentioned before (see Day 11 - Ilan ~ Keelung) there is a dedicated cycle path heading out of Fulong that makes it safe. There are a few motorcycles that use the cycling path but I mostly blocked them and forced them off. 

Motorcycle in Cyclist Lane
Motorcycle in the Cycling Lane

Snaking along the 40 km trail to the Keelung harbor is always a pleasure. I went at the same ambling pace as the first 56 km so it was comfortable. Along this stretch of road you pass through some of the small fishing towns and see some of the incredible vistas of the cliffs on the side of the island.

North Coast View

More Ocean Views
North Coast View

Getting Closer to Keelung
North Coast View

At this stage I was quite comfortable on the bike but when I hit the 75 km mark my left leg seized up with cramp. I had to get off the bike and walk it off. I got back on the bike but for some reason I just wanted to quit at that point. I knew the feeling would only last for a few kilometers so pushed through until I started to feel a little better. Then, as I entered Keelung, all hell broke loose with the weather and a giant rain shower ensued. I just carried on riding. It was too late to stop. I was already wet. The rain soon faded and within 30 minutes I was at the Keelung harbor. It was a sense of closure and this was the second point of departure where I could take a short cut back into Taipei or push through to Tamsui. Of course I chose the latter option.

Into Keelung
Arriving in Keelung

Keelung to Tamsui, and Home

100 km - Heading out of Keelung
100 km Point

The worst part of the ride was still ahead of me, but I had no idea. I rode out of Keelung, headed uphill for a bit to get on the road to Jinshan and then headed for Tamsui and home. I passed the 100 km point of the ride (the first time I have done that in a long time) at a fairly innocuous part of the journey and continued pushing along the North Coast. I was really hungry and decided to stop at the 7-11 at Green Wave Bay where I grabbed some cold noodles and a couple of bananas. I rested there for a bit and then continued slowly on my way.

100 km - Heading out of Keelung
100 km Point

Before Jingshan

I passed through Jinshan and then headed off towards Shimen and that was the second point where it became really hard. The huge winds that were blowing South from the Northern tip of Taiwan were vicious and slowed me down significantly. Normally I can just blast through this part of the road but the winds were so ferocious that at some points, along the flat road, I was reduced to doing 7 km/h. It was worse than riding up a steep hill. It was a hard journey but after a long time I managed to push past the Northern tip and get out of the wind. It took a long while and I was utterly exhausted at the end of it. I think this was the part that really tired my legs out. But still, I made it.

Looking Back along Road 2
The North Coast

Heading into Tamsui
Heading into Tamsui - 150 km point

After that it was relatively simple heading into Tamsui. There were no really exciting incidents along the way. I just continued to enjoy the views of the ocean and the road on which I haven't been in a long long time. I was way too exhausted to take many pictures and I was just trying to pedal for home. It was also at this point I realized I wouldn't be hitting the 200 km target I had set myself for the days ride and started thinking about doing an extra stretch to Hsin Tien to bring up the milestone but, after I reached Gongguan and was so close to home, all thoughts of going further evaporated from my mind.

Final Words

Looking Back Along the Tamsui River
View of Beitou

Well, at the end of the trip it was a 187 km ride done in under 12 hours. Slightly worse than I was hoping. I was hoping to do 200 km in 10 hours but it was not to be. I was happy with the end result considering the fact that my one leg is half the size of the other since the muscle was severely atrophied after the operation on my knee, and considering this was only my third ride back, it wasn't a bad effort. I will probably repeat this ride at some point later but will try to add a little more speed and get it done quicker. The one great result of this is that I now know Fulong can become a regular route (there and back through the mountains will be a 112 km and I believe can be done in less than 6 hours).

Thanks for reading and, as usual, comments are always appreciated.


  1. Paul,

    i was reading your narrative, hanging on your every word as you pushed yourself through the various obstacles in your path, literally. i'm very relieved to hear that your recovery is going so well and that you were able to ride 187 KM, which is a very good distance (many non-injured riders cannot do that!). glad to read about your triumphant return to the sport!

    1. Hi MJ, thanks for your kind words. Yes was happy to be able to ride the distance with no pain. But still need to be careful and cannot run or jump or hop yet - but all in good time. I am happy to be back too! Hope you are well. Thanks for reading and commenting :).

  2. Excellent news, excellent post.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Also, thanks for the shout out on your blog. Really appreciate it. Cheers.


Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.


"Trafalgar Square" (1) 798 District (1) Africa (1) Airport (1) Archive (1) Art (1) Asia Art Center (1) Aviary (1) bagpipes (1) Ban Nam Dee (1) Beihai Park (1) Beijing (5) Birds (1) Bitan (1) Boracay (2) Bozburun (1) Buddhism (1) Buddhist Temple (1) Bunny Chow (1) Cafe India (1) canopy tour (1) cat (1) China (15) Christmas (2) Colombo (3) COPE (1) curry (1) Cycling (28) Cycling in Taiwan (8) dance (3) Dog (1) Durban (3) East Rift Valley (1) Eco Lodge (1) Elephant (3) Elephant Ride (1) Ella (1) Family (6) Fire (1) Flower Market (3) Food (2) France (1) Friends (19) Fulong (1) Galle (2) Galle Face Hotel (1) Gokova (1) Guandu Nature Park (1) hiking (2) Hong Kong (5) Hot Springs (1) Hsin Tien (1) Hualien (1) Hutong (1) Ilan (2) Japan (3) Jing Shan Beach (1) Kandayan Dancers (1) Kandy (5) Kandy Lake (1) Kaohsiung (2) Karkloof (1) Kayak (1) Keelung (4) Khiva (1) kitten (1) Koh Samui (1) Laos (9) Laos COPE (1) Laos Puppies (1) Laos Travelogue (3) Leofoo Village Theme Park (2) Library (1) Lion Dance (1) Little England (1) London (13) Luang Prabang (3) Marmaris (3) Matara (3) Mimi (2) Miscellaneous (32) Monkeys (1) Moses Mabhida Stadium (1) Namtha (1) Namtha. Huay Xuay (1) New Zealand (11) Nuawara Eliya (1) Nuwara Eliya (2) Osaka (3) Our Stuff (11) Pettah Market (1) Philippines (2) Photowalk (1) Pinglin (2) Pinnawala (1) Pot Pie Cafe (1) Pudding (1) Puppies (1) Puppy (1) Restaurants (11) Shek O (2) Shihmen Reservoir (1) Singapore (1) Snake Charmer (1) Snow (1) South Africa (12) Sri Lanka (17) street performers (1) Sung River (1) Sunset (3) Ta An Park (2) Tad Sae Waterfall (1) Taipei (18) Taipei and Taiwan Travel Guide (6) Taipei Fine Arts Museum (1) Taipei Hsin-Beitou (1) Taipei Restaurant (1) Taipei Video (6) Taiwan (24) Taiwan Video (5) Tamsui (2) Tangalle (1) Tangelle (1) Temple (1) Temple Lunch (1) Tennoji (2) Thailand (1) Tissahane (1) Train (1) Travel (62) Travel Guide (1) Travelogues (7) tuk tuk (1) Turkey (11) Unawatuna (1) Unawatuna Beach (1) Urgut (1) Uzbekistan (8) Vang Vieng (4) Vang Vieng Eco Lodge (1) Victoria Park (1) Vientiane (3) Vientiane COPE (1) Wattay International Airport (1) Wedding (2) Weherahena Temple (1) Willesden Green (1) Worship Team (2) Xindian (1) Yala Nature Reserve (1) Yangmingshan (1) zip-line (2) 六福村 (2) 北京 (2) 北海公园 (1) 大安森林公園 (1) 建國花市 (1) 新店 (1) 石澳 (1) 石門水庫 (1) 碧潭 (1) 花東縱谷 (1) 衚衕 (1) 金山海灘 (1) 關渡自然公園 (1)

Popular Posts