Sunday, October 03, 2010

Joyce Conquers Kenting

This weekend I blew off all my work and took a sanity break on the east side of Kenting. Between work and rain, September had been a disappointing month for riding. With me went my partner in climb, Drew Kerslake, and his amazing wife, Joyce. This was her first long ride and her first overnight trip. She was a monster, snarfing down all the hills we fed her, and looking great in sleek cycling clothing and on a hot bike, to boot. It was humbling to ride with her, and exhilarating to glide through some of the most stunningly beautiful terrain the island has to offer. Drew's post on the ride is here.

Saturday morning, we suited up for our assault on Kenting's hills. On Friday night we stayed in Sichungxi at the place Jeff and I stayed at in August.

We got a light dusting of rain very early, and that was it for the trip. The rest of the time, the sky was blue, the sea was green, and we were red with exertion.

We stopped at the Mudan Battlefield monument, shown here as a distant spire on the center hill top.

Then it was up through the Stone Gates.

We stopped by the village of Shihmen.

Climbing out of the village....

...the views over the dam and reservoir....

...and the town and surrounding peaks....


Drew and Joyce chat as they climb.

As usual, I hunted butterflies. As usual, I had little success. Surely butterfly photographers must endure short, spectacular careers before alcohol consumes them.

Eventually we reached the point where 199 goes over to Taitung, and 199A heads down to the coast.

There we met another group of cyclists, a common experience on a Kenting weekend.

As you roll down to the coast, a military base overlooks the ocean.

If you were a car, road construction halted your forward progress. We cyclists sped right through....

At the bottom of the slope, by the turn onto 26, is a full service police station.

For many years closed to traffic, 26 at this point is totally undeveloped and empty. The views are excellent.

Joyce heads out.

How it must have looked, hundreds of years ago....

Snapping a snap shot.

We stopped at this spot past the military bases, where the sand dunes have created a whole industry of vehicle rentals. I love the rushing clouds in this shot...

Men at play.

Returning from a ride.

We ate lunch and watched the vehicles skitter over the dunes.

Then it was more climbing, up Rte 200.

Lovely ocean views, but steady climbing.

At a rest stop, I captured this hunting spider crawling across a roadside mirror.

An abandoned police station, actually not an uncommon sight if you bike in less traveled areas.

Fruit or vegetable? You make the call.

At the high point on Rte 200, coincidentally at 200 meters, there is a tiny hamlet where we rested for a half an hour. The day had been filled with beautiful scenery....

....but as you start downhill toward Jialeshui, the loveliness of the sky and mountains and farms is overwhelming. Surely that 15 km stretch down to Manjhou is one of the three or four most beautiful rides on the island.

The road follows a river valley through what is marked as an ecological area on local maps, whatever that means.

It's not possible to capture in photos, so I am only putting up a couple.

A great thing about biking is that you can notice, and stop, at things like this little roadside shrine.

In Manjhou town the old drugstore and general store are still extant.

But we were headed down to the surfing mecca of Jialeshui.

In the morning we'd be climbing that....

But night meant friendship and conversation, lubricated by Taiwan Beer, the national drink of expats.

Sunday morning it was off to a local general store for liquids.

Looking down the road to Hengchun. We spurned that....

....and went up to the ridge.


At the top there's a scenic overlook.

Where some motorcyclists stopped to take pictures. Left their dog in the car, so to speak.

We took some pics too.

Once you reach the plateau the scenes are otherworldly. You're actually just above the lighthouse at Olanbi at this point; there's a little parking lot here from which you can see the ocean on both sides of that miniature peninsula.

We rocketed down to the lighthouse.

Out on the ocean the clouds reigned over the ships of men.

Then it was into Kenting town for the sybaritic pleasure of Starbucks.

After inhaling coffee and breakfast #2, we went in search of a cowpath to take us near Da Jian Shan, the peak that overlooks Kenting.

Next it was off to the coast. Here we pass the enormous 7-11 on the way into Kenting street.

We stopped to admire the clouds over the little lake in Kenting. I had a lot of fun imaging clouds on this trip.
Heading down the coast road after lunch in Shanhai.

We took a side road through some of the little fishing villages north of the Aquarium.

Then it was back to Sichungxi to get the car after a morning of leisurely riding.

On the way there we stopped at this fascinating historical monument. Since Drew is going to post separately on it, I will refrain from discussing it.

Joyce arrives at the top of the last hill. It was a very special experience: both the incredible beauty of the east side of Kenting, and watching a new rider be born. A double privilege.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Callum said...

Beauty. Thanks for the tour. I love this part of Taiwan.

D said...

Nice. That stretch above E-luan-bi is pretty.

Joyce C. said...

Thanks, Michael!!! Great riding and wonderful scenery! You are a great mentor and riding buddy!

jerome in vals said...

Looking at your gorgeous photos, I was reminded of Craig Ferguson's comment a few months back. He pointed out that your pictures were underexposed.

And although I agreed with him, I was too lazy to chime in on your side and comment that it was intended.

Underexposing by 2 thirds of a stop to a full stop on a sunny day makes for those breathtakingly deep blue skies, crisp greenery and sharp edges.

You got the tricks of the trade, Midhael. Keep awing us with your lovely bike-ride-photologs across the Formosan ladscapes. And thanks.

Michael Turton said...

Jerome and Craig (if you're reading):

I never mess with the exposure settings because the Fuji is a major pain in the ass to adjust (as soon as Canon comes out with a lens this big I am switching). Instead the auto metering system does all the work, it is set to multi. I simply vary the center of the picture slightly to get the light effect that I want. Although 90% of the time I get an even better scenery shot than I intended.


jerome in vals said...

My apology for having misspelled you above. My key-board is underexposed in the dim glare of the laptop screen.

jerome in vals said...

I also enjoyed that picture you took, after a downpour, of a woman running across a glistening street. The whole scene glowed red and gold from the setting sun piercing under clouds.

That sturdy Fuji comes with a jewel of a lens. A master works finest his old tools in hands.

Taipei Air Station said...

Fruit or vegetable? You make the call.

Figs. Most of our Moms fed us Kraft Fig Newtons at some time in our younger years.. Ummm good!

Stefan said...

I'm jealous, I'm still waiting for a spare part to get my cycle running again. (Damn derailleur hanger...)

Cristy Li said...

Nice Photos

Anonymous said...

Michael - this is a terrific entry. Taiwan has such beautiful landscapes and biking is certainly a wonderful way to experience them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, I tried to post a comment on Andrew's blog about your Kenting ride, but there seemed to be a problem. I live in Hualien, but we like going to the Kenting area a few times each year and I always manage to get in a few rides. If you are looking for a riding partner next time you are in Kenting, let me know. Maybe Andrew, Joyce, you and I can do a ride.
Great photos too! is: