First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

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First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby taiwanvisitor222 » 28 Oct 2011, 21:22

Hi all,

I will be visiting Taiwan for the first time for a couple of weeks in the middle of November, and bringing my road bike with me. Im hoping to do a fair bit of cycling, maybe one 2-day tour anywhere in the country, and two or three one-day trips from my base in the center of Taipei.

I know that there is a ton of information out there on cycling in the country, but am feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all so was looking for simple pointers in terms of routes, and some other info, just to get me started...

1- Best two day route?: I guess I am looking for 200-250km over two days on the flat (or appropriately shorter if climbing; either is OK). Where should I go? Are west coast to east coast rides (which of the island-crossing highways?) a good choice at this time of year good or will it be freezing at the top? Should I avoid the western plains (all urban sprawl?)? Follow the eastern coast only?

2- One day trips direct from Taipei (or not far on a train)? East, west, north, or south? Some mountains or coastal routes would be good. Where should a newbie go? Ive come across a couple of reasonable routes. What do you think?
http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/25692570
http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/18030456

3- Clothing: I may need to buy some cycling/general sport clothing if it is going to be cooler up in the mountains. Can anyone recommend a good place either for large size sport clothing generally, or maybe a cycle clothing shop with a good range of clothing stock/sizes in Taipei?

4- Also, are there any 30-, 40-, 50+ km routes exclusively for cycles anywhere in the country? I always feel that these are good for basing a day`s trip on as you can really get some mileage in then.

I will probably be back with a number of more posts here over the next week or two (if anyone answers this one). Thanks in advance for any help.
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby Mucha Man » 28 Oct 2011, 22:41

For a couple day trip you will want to do the east coast. Hualian to Taidong. There are two hwys, coastal 9 and inland 11, and 4 mountain routes connecting them (as there is a mountain range between the two highways though they aren't far apart). The great thing is the hwys are flat (mostly) and the connectors really steep. Best of both worlds. Conditions are excellent. Wide shoulders on both highways for bikes, connectors almost traffic free, and some lovely county roads that parallel hwy 11 that see almost no traffic.

Around Taipei there are also 200-300km of riverside paths which are bike only. You can ride as far as Shimen Reservoir now (maybe further) which is 60-70km from Taipei, one way. Or you can take the paths to Xindian/Bitan where you have numerous road options into the mountains: Wulai/Pinglin/Pingxi/and around the Xindian hills.

Others will no doubt have more to say.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby haokaiyang » 28 Oct 2011, 23:47

You can find directions for some great Taipei day rides here. There are also descriptions of longer rides.

The east coast is a good place for a multiday tour if you like very rural areas. Personally, I find staying on the main highways (the 9 and the 11) rather monotonous, and I'm not familiar enough with the area to suggest lesser-known routes. Also, if you want to get to the east coast you'll have to take a train--something to keep in mind. If you really want to get off the beaten path, go along the southwest coast from Taidong to Kending. That's as far away from Taipei as you can get, but the scenery is spectacular.

On the west side, my favorite big road is the 3, which runs beside the foothills of the Central Mountain Range. The section in Miaoli County is particularly lovely. Further south, there's a 1000-meter climb between Jiayi and Tainan that will take you past the Zengwen/Tsengwen Reservoir, another beautiful area.

If you want to climb, the Central Cross-Island Highway ascends higher than any other road to Taiwan, reaching 3275 meters at Wuling. At this time of year it shouldn't be too terribly cold at the top as long as the sun is out. The Northern Cross (highway 7) only climbs to about 1200 meters, and while you could probably do the whole thing in a day, I'd recommend staying a night at Baling or Mingchi. The Southern Cross, unfortunately, hasn't been open since Typhoon Morakot.

Of course, if you want, you could throw planning out the window, take a train to whatever part of the country you feel like exploring, and wander around for a couple days. I did that in southern Taiwan a couple years ago and had a great time. The south is so warm that you'd be comfortable riding around in a tank top. The north might get a bit chilly depending on the weather.

Have fun! And when you get back, tell all your cycling friends how awesome Taiwan is. :)
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby Mucha Man » 29 Oct 2011, 00:05

haokaiyang wrote:...On the west side, my favorite big road is the 3, which runs beside the foothills of the Central Mountain Range. The section in Miaoli County is particularly lovely. Further south, there's a 1000-meter climb between Jiayi and Tainan that will take you past the Zengwen/Tsengwen Reservoir, another beautiful area.


Yeah, both are nice. The whole route from Guanziling down to Tainan is excellent. But would you really recommend these to someone new to Taiwan?

The South Cross btw is open.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby haokaiyang » 29 Oct 2011, 00:09

Muzha Man wrote:The South Cross btw is open.


Open all the way through? That's news to me. Last time I was down there, the east side was open but the west was still closed.
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby jdsmith » 29 Oct 2011, 00:09

PM wookie.

That guy rides everywhere.
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby Mucha Man » 29 Oct 2011, 00:19

haokaiyang wrote:
Muzha Man wrote:The South Cross btw is open.


Open all the way through? That's news to me. Last time I was down there, the east side was open but the west was still closed.


Afaik, you still can't pass after the Yakou tunnel but both sides are open. The highways department decided a few months back to keep the highway open, saying they only promise to make repairs and not to restore it. It's going to be a rough route from now on which actually is better for cyclists as very few cars will bother anymore.

I
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby taiwanvisitor222 » 29 Oct 2011, 11:14

Thanks for the info all.

I guess a plan is forming for the two-day tour. Train down to Chang hua, then first day, start around route 3 and up to Sun Moon lake, stay there for the night. Second day, down to Hualian then along routes 9 and 11, crossing between the two, for some coastal and inland scenery, down to Taidong (this is the same as Tai tung on Google maps yeah?). Not sure how to get from Sun-Moon lake down to the coast... There seem to be a lot of roads that just stop in the middle of nowhere. I will put together a route online and then ask for some feedback, as well as checking the altitude profile... I don`t think I will be able to manage sea level to 3000+ meters... Which is the least challenging west to east coast option... Is it the northern one (which is a bit far from sun moon lake/Hualian to Taidong)?

So MuchaMan, the Shimen reservoir route seems like a good option for one day. Is it feasible to head there on the way out, then return to Taipei along the coast (is the coast west of taipei nice?)? Any particular sights or places to visit along this route? I particularly like cycling where there are a lot of other cyclists about. I guess that this route would be good in this regard on weekends?

Thanks for the link Haokaiyang. There seem to be some good Taipei routes there. Will also pass on the news of Taiwan cycling after I`m done. I`m Japan-based (my blog is at roninonabike.weebly.com, still working on the site though), and also recommend a cycling visit to Japan.
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby Mucha Man » 29 Oct 2011, 12:57

Your two day tour is impossible. Zhanghua to Taidong will take 4 days. From Puli you need to ride up to Wuling Pass which is at 3275m. Expect to go slow.

Also, as a first time visitor you may not want to expose yourself to the run down, grimy, blight ridden west coast around Zhanghua.

The easiest way to cross the island is County Rd 199 in the south (north of Kending National Park). It's also one of the loveliest country roads in Taiwan.

Supposedly from Shimen Reservoir the bike paths extend to Hsinchu now where supposedly again you can ride back to Taipei. No one seems to be able to confirm that the path are ready. I hope to have time next week to try.

Not sure what you mean by things to see but it's a pretty route to the reservoir. Pass wetlands, rice fields, a cool ceramic museum, a large lake, Daxi where you can pop in to see some old buildings and try great tofu, and then a really lovely section where the river narrows and it feels very remote and primitive.

From Shimen Reservoir you can go east on the North Cross Island Hwy to the east coast. A grand mountain road with fantastic views and ancient forests.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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Re: First time in Taiwan - cycle touring/routes

Postby taiwanvisitor222 » 29 Oct 2011, 13:25

Ah - I see what you mean... the route I proposed would be over 3000m a.s.l. (not a chance). So a good trip could perhaps be to travel south along the coast from the last stop on the high speed rail route, then to cross the island along route 199, and end up at Taidong, which works out at less than 200km, with not too much climbing. Any suggestions for a good place to stay halfway, which would be about the middle of route 199?
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