Stephen Jack assembles his bike on the platform at the train station in Hualien.
The long weekend offered some great opportunities for cycling, though the weather sucked across the island. Friday my friend Stephen Jack and I took the crack'o'dawn express over to Hualien, had lunch with friends, then headed south. But before we get to the pix from the ride, I thought I'd set down some things I've discovered about taking a bike on the train in Taiwan....
If you want to take your bicycle on the train in Taiwan, here are a few tips.
1. Bagged bikes can go on all locals and jyu guang hau trains. They are not allowed on the Taroko specials. For the dz chiang trains, see the train listing in the schedule and check for the bicycle icon. They will accept a bike bagged on that train.
2. "Bagged" means in a bag, any bag, plastic bag, paper bag, whatever. Dedicated bike bag, of course. "Bagged" means that most of the bike must be in the bag. For road bikes like I ride, I just take the front wheels off. You don't need to take off the handlebars, rear wheels, etc. Again, just remove the front wheel and pop in bag. I know some riders who had big bags specially made, they just drop the bikes in whole and go. This means that....
3. ...for ease of handling, I always roll the bike around the station and carry it up and down stairs and then disassemble it on the platform. When I get off the train, I assemble it on the platform and roll it back out the station. This is because I feel it is easier to roll a bike than carry it unless you've got a really nice bike bag with straps, which I do not. This sometimes leads to arguments with train station staff, who appear to be deaf to the phrase "I have a bag".
4. On all trains but the dz chiang expresses, the bikes can go anywhere they fit -- you can put the bike behind the seats on a jyu guang or in the empty area at the front of some older cars. On the dz chiang designated bike trains, the bikes ALWAYS go in Car 12. Car 12 will be a hermaphrodite, half seats, half baggage. Sometimes they use an old dining car. On those trains, before you buy the tix, tell the cashier you have a bike. They are supposed to put you in car 12, though the system is set up wrongly so seats in car 12 are sometimes hard to come by (but there is always room for a bike). Once you set the bikes down in car 12, you can go to your seats in whatever car. PROTIP: seats 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Car 12 are almost never sold. Thus, they are always empty. You can sit in them and most of the time you will never be kicked out. I haven't been yet. Also, you can usually sit in the baggage car even though you are not supposed to. Just go in and sit down on the floor, the Taiwanese do it all the time. As have I. On the morning trains that car will fill with commuters.
5. HSR: You can take a bike in a bike bag on the HSR. There is usually room on the seats at the end of the car or by the luggage rack, but you can ensure that you get that space by being the first one in line to get aboard. If you tell them you have a bagged bike, they will try and give you the seat next to the luggage. In fact the best seat is at the end of the car, ask for that -- the space behind the last seat is almost always big enough for a bike.
On to the pictures! Click on READ MORE.
The next day we ran back up the coast 50 kms to Fangliao and hopped the train for home. Great ride, great company. Wish you had come....
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