Sunday, August 08, 2010

150 kms through Yunghe - Pinglin -Toucheng - Keelung

Yesterday I did a long one from Yungho, the suburb of Taipei, along Rte 9 to Pinglin in the tea district, then to Toucheng, and then finally to Keelung. I thought it was over 160 kms yesterday but I checked the map more carefully today for this post, and it was only 150 kms. A near century. Argh. But parts of the ride were lovely, and it was the first sustained climbing I had done since my toe had returned to something like normal. A good ride regardless.

Yungho just waking up on a Saturday.

The bike paths near a large park.

Hordes of retirees conduct exercises in the morning shade.

Coming out of Taipei the clouds to the south looked great.....

...., but over the mountains to the east they presaged a day of rain. Another cyclist crosses the bridge on 106 into Hsintien.

The sun lights up structures on the river.

I haven't been in Hsintien in years, so I was delighted to discover Betel Nut Rd there.

Like many roads through the mountains, Route 9 through the hills to Toucheng in Yilan parallels a river for much of its route.

Looking back as the climbing begins.

A moment when the road was empty. In the morning there were dozens of cyclists out, along with the usual quota of cars and trucks.

A light rain fell intermittently, so one passed between periods of getting soaked and then enduring a steam bath.

One great thing about the ride was stopping to chat with other cyclists. This group had people follow in vehicles and was doing full on BBQ when they called me over to share.

There are some lovely views in the section between Hsintien and Pinglin.

This drinks shop offered free water and air pump for cyclists, and kept a sheaf of tools as well.

Lovely landscapes. Of the shots I took yesterday, this one is my favorite.

The road flirted with 600 meters in altitude but didn't quite make it. The grade is easy, easier than any of the climbs I normally do in Miaoli and Taichung.

A panorama of the area.

At this little park groups of cyclists stopped to fix tires.

One of the most serious problems with biking in Taiwan: passing on blind curves and in illegal passing zones.

The stunning Feitsui Reservoir and nearby farms.

The area around the reservoir is a protected water conservation area.

Abandoned buildings, eyesores found along every major tourist road.

Taking a breather.

As I drew closer to Pinglin, farms started appearing along the river.

I stopped here for lunch. As the clouds suggest, as soon as I left Pinglin it began pouring.

Slowly I discovered why everyone was stopping in Pinglin. On the stretch between Pinglin and Toucheng in Yilan I took only one photo, partly because it was raining so much, but also because the entire 20 kms looked like this, both sides of the road hemmed in either by ridge or vegetation. Dull beyond belief. It was also utterly demoralizing to ride kilometer after kilometer of identical curves and identical incline, rounding each curve hoping that at last the end had come, only to find myself in exactly the same place that I had just left.

The coast mountains were shrouded in fog.

Finally: I left the Slough of Despond and arrived at the escarpment. The views of the Yilan plain from 400 meters above Toucheng are stirring. I was especially excited because I hadn't been to this spot in nearly 15 years.

Most of the descent is unvegetated and there were great views all the way down.

The interchange for highway 5 and the Huashan Tunnel.

Taking a break again.

A group of cyclists on their way up fixes a flat.

Agriculture shapes Yilan.

Flooded fields.

From there it was about 75 kms up the coast to Keelung, a route I love and have shot many times before, here and here, for example.

My bike in the train station in Keelung, ready for shipping. Although it lacked the stunning scenery and heights that make for awesome cycling, it nevertheless was immensely satisfying. Why? Because I did it alone, the first time I had done a ride of such length on my own.
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Joel Haas said...

An awesome ride, Michael. I love your ride posts as they take my mind off current troubles and take me back to the beautiful Isle and happier times. I drove the area around Pinglin and had the same response to the endless climbs and curves as you. Biking it is just more than I could imagine for climbs!

Dezhong said...

"An awesome ride, Michael. I love your ride posts as they take my mind off current troubles and take me back to [...] happier times."

So true!

Protocol Snow said...

Nice photos of a beautiful environment. I'm quite envious... trips like this must be great for the soul!

Dixteel said...

Very nice photos indeed.

INCOMING!!!!!!! said...

I love our photos. Lovely.

Are the lakes and reservoirs low out there?

Michael Turton said...

Yes, the reservoir was low. I can't figure out why, either. it's been raining cats and dogs.

Thanks Joel. That was a very spiritual experience. East coast on Saturday!