Cycling around Taiwan had always been on my to-do-list since I had pedaled back from Germany to Hong Kong. At the end of May 2015, I got an invitation from the Tripwant.com to join an American tour company – Bicycle Adventures, to do an 11-day cycling tour in Taiwan.
Before the departure, I read the itinerary that the average mileage was 100km per day. The route covered a lot of mountains and they aimed to bike up to the highest road of Taiwan – Wuling (武嶺) (3275m). I was a bit worried that I couldn’t manage the whole tour, as I hadn’t biked a long distant tour for years. But knowing that we aimed to climb Wuling, I couldn’t stop myself from joining this tour.
The tour started in rainy Taipei. We climbed up to the Yangmingshan (陽明山) after a few kilometers of flat road warm up along the Keelung River. The height of Yangmingshan was similar to the highest mountain in Hong Kong which I had no problem conquering it. But the weather was rough and I was not in shape at all. I was so ashamed that I had to hop on the support vehicle at the last 2km. Sitting in a vehicle felt like being in jail, but my mind was aiming for Wuling. I knew I had a few days to wake up my muscles. Therefore, once the weather turned better, I couldn’t wait to ride.
We rode along the northern coast of Taiwan, via Jingshan (金山) and Tamsui (淡水) back to the city of Taipei. The ride was around 100km. When we were passing through Tamsui, there was 10 minutes of sunshine which was the only sunlight of the day. Everybody was drenched from the storm. But after a hot shower in a 5-star hotel, nobody complained.
The next day, we skipped the urban west coast and took a speed train heading down to the south of Taiwan – Kaohsiung (高雄). We planned to ride to the Yoho Bike Hotel but the thunderstorm didn’t allow us. Fortunately, the sky got clear after we had checked in. Everyone couldn’t wait to hop on a bike and hammer down to the southern tip of Taiwan – Eluanbi Lighthouse (鵝鑾鼻燈塔). The bike hotel provided bike rental and repair services. Guests could wash the bikes for free at the “Bike Spa” area before bring them back to their room. The bike shop offered essential biking equipment. Even if you didn’t plan for a bike trip, you could still buy some budget gear and rent a bike to go.
The sun was shining when we woke up the next morning. We all applied sun block to prepare for a sunny ride. But it was a false alarm. It rained cats and dogs right after we took off. It felt like riding on a river. We went along the road 199, climbed over the Mu-tan Reservoir (牡丹水庫) and reached the Shoukatiemayi Station (壽卡鐵馬驛站). But the rain didn’t stop and it was dangerous to ride downhill on slippery roads. We decided to end the day early and headed to the hot spring hotel at Zhiben (知本).
**To be continued…**