Bikepacking, Taiwan

One last ride

Yesterday’s ride made me wish we didn’t waste time going to Kenting. We rode from Taipei to the northern tip of Taiwan using some really nice pike paths trying to avoid major roads. Clear blue skies all the way, ocean views and great company made this 100km ride very enjoyable. My butt is glad to not have to sit on the saddle anymore, but I wish I could stay longer and see more. We keep discovering new places and the riding route possibilities seem endless.

we got to ride with friends again today, we worked together to push through the headwind and visits areas even my Taiwan native friend never visited. If only we had time to go to the beach! We got to practice some cyclo-cross skills 🙂

Our last full day in Taiwan has been spent walking through Taipei. Ouch! I am a lot better at the two wheel exploring then the pedestrian thing. Cool bike shops, more great coffees and some food truck snacks.

I wish I could stay longer, but my butt and saddle aren’t friends anymore and I may need to get back to work and plan for the next adventure!

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

The end of the nomadic lifestyle

Getting back to Taipei ended up being really easy. There isn’t a straight answer when asking about bringing a bike on a train or a bus, you will be told that it depends on the train, the bus, the driver,… Luckily enough, we met another cyclist who took a bus and was told to buy plastic bags, take the wheels off and throw the bike in the bus, so we did the same thing, bought a roll of garbage bags at one of the so many 7-11’s took the wheels off and brought our expensive trash on the high speed train. One hour and a half later, we had travelled 370km and were riding our bikes on the street of Taipei!

Back in that organized chaos that is Taipei, all these scooters and cars going all directions, I kinda like it! First stop…eggs benedict at our favourite coffee shop 🙂

I am so happy to not have to pack my bag and bike for the next 4 nights.

The plan is to spend a few days taking it easy, ride my bike around town, taste every latte from all those different cafe’s, visit bike shops and relax.

Then Angela arrived to town! Not even a full nights sleep after her 14h flight, jet lagged, she invited us to climb a little mountain, just 800m of climbing in 24km. Thanks for showing me this route!

Tomorrow will be a flat easy day!

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

I did it again!

No mountains today 😦 After a very tasty McDonald’s breakfast we rode our toughest fastest flattest 100km ever!

Getting out if the city took us about 1/2 hour, then it was a constant tailwind as we reached the coast and enjoyed our lunch and coffee break.

Then the winds turned! Well, they kept on turning for the last 30km of our ride. The dominant tailwind helped keep a good speed, but the wind gusts we pushing us off the road or into traffic. Scary!

But as always, I succeeded in choosing the hotel that would challenge us the most. Just one last turn after passing all these charming B&B’s, quaint resorts, a few kilometres more, just enough for the wind to become a head wind and stop us. It’s quite a nice hotel, with ocean view 🙂 and amazing food.

Kenting is very different from the rest of Taiwan, it is a busy touristy beach town. We were hoping to even out the cyclist sun tan, but the wind brought the clouds and the rain.

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

Love hate relationship

I could have climbed these mountains for ever, admire these views, challenge myself,… Don’t take me wrong, I grumble or even swear when I see the road winding up hundreds of feet higher, but the satisfaction of making it up there makes the sore muscles and heavy breathing a distant memory! The roads here are perfect for riding, it is a lot of climbing. But mainly tight switchbacks that make every hill more enjoyable and the torture of these steep grades short lived.

By taking the road less travelled we discovered pretty cool areas. We rode through a coffee region today, along hot springs yesterday, tea heaven a few days before,…

We need to cover more distance, all the climbing is slowing us down and we won’t make it to the south of Taiwan if we stay inland. I am now dreaming of that sandy beach and spending a day without a chamois! Our first attempt of riding flat roads wasn’t a success. As soon as we got out of the forest we were greeted by air pollution, scooters and trucks. We ran back to the mountains for one last night on the top of the world, just 15km of climbing to get to our hotel at 1300m elevation. At least the next morning was mostly downhill.

Getting to Pingtung today was depressing, from greenery and peaceful roads we entered a grey, busy city. Until we arrived to our very affordable hotel and got to choose which cool coffee shop we could try and which type of food we would eat. Surprisingly this city has a very important artistic scene and some pretty cool areas to discover. I may like the mountains, but I missed the small luxuries of the bigger cities.

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

Off day

After picking the hotel at the highest elevation in Lugu, you would have thought that the next day would have started with a descend 🙂 nope! 17km climb to start the day! The plan was to have an easy day to recover after all the climbing we had done the previous days.

At least the hotel I picked for the next day was only 30km away.

Once we stopped climbing we entered a valley where they were growing tea on every side of every hill at every elevation no matter how steep the terrain was. It smelled so good over there. The narrow road meandering between fields would take us to some impressive viewpoints. Only one field had pickers and we could here the ladies chatting hidden under their conical hats.

So peaceful, no cars, no buses, it was like this road was meant to be kept a secret. I keep being amazed by how beautiful this country is.

Early arrival at tonight’s B&B, Japanese soaker tub, awesome dinner, ready for more climbing tomorrow 🙂

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

Not out of the forest yet!

We visited a couple of coffee growers and roasters and tasted coffee from a few different coffee shops and now it’s time to move south. I am surprised that in the heart of tea growing regions the coffee industry is thriving. In Nantou county we could still easily find the daily espresso fix, but as we get deeper in the countryside, we get the tradition Taiwan coffee infusion. I may have insulted some coffee growers by asking for milk.

Taiwan is a big producer of tea and we did ride besides fields of tea bushes, but also lots of banana trees, dragon fruit, melons,…

The distances we cover each day is smaller then we had first planned since the hills may be a bit steeper then predicted. I love hill climbing and I am loving the riding here, my two cycling companions seem to enjoy it too. We will slowly make our way south, but with the constant 10% to 20% grades we encounter, we may take a few extra days to get out of the forest 🙂

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

Road cycling paradise

Even if I️ tried to get lost, I️ don’t think I️ could! It is so easy to create the best routes, have some pretty amazing climbs and scenery without having to wander too far from a town. As soon as you get out of the big cities, traffic is very light and there are lots of secondary roads that are barely used. We have been treated to the best paved roads since we got here, not only the busier roads, but even the alleys have new pavement.

Sun Moon Lake is a busy touristic area, but everyone seems to stay around the lake. The road around the lake is fun and has challenging climbs and descends, but it’s way too busy on a sunny weekend. We escaped the tour buses and explored the surrounding area, just beautiful windy mountain roads. I️ have never had so much accessible amazing road riding, it’s so nice riding through the center of the island, that we are debating staying here for a few days.

In New Zealand it was safer to ride the trails, here you’d better stay on the road. If it’s not paved, it’s not safe, maybe because of land slides, snakes. There is actually no need to venture of road, Taiwan invests constantly in it’s infrastructure and offers much more safe and amazing cycling options then anyone could ever discover.

We still had to venture off the beaten path 🙂

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