Resting in Lower Baling with my good friends Kenji and Jeff.
Saturday and Sunday I ignored my currently enormous workload and rode one of favorite routes, the Northern Cross Island Highway from Yongning Metro to Yilan Train Station with my redoubtable friends Kenji and Jeff. Click on Read More to see more....
TRICKY PART: Follow the 108 (Zhengyi Rd) until you reach the first bridge, then turn right and follow that past the 7-11 (Tianfu Rd). Almost immediately the urban nightmare disappears. You'll find yourself on a pleasant road along the river parallel to the 7. Eventually you'll come to a large modern bridge. Cross the river to the alternate 7 there.
From there you soon start a long climb of 7-8 kms to about 400 meters, then a swift descent into Sanmin, whose Hi-life and 7-11 are a favorite of cyclists. Another climb takes you to Fuxing, past one of the 27 homes of the dictator Chiang Kai-shek, whose cult celebrates his austere lifestyle. Fuxing is the last convenience store (now a Hi-Life) until Yilan. From there just follow the 7 until you reach Lower Baling (purple squares). Total of 62 kms on the day with three long climbs, the last peaking just before Lower Baling. There are three-four places to stay in Baling, you can get their numbers off streetview. On a weekend BE SURE to reserve, especially in the summer. Day two (red squares) takes you about 80 kms to Yilan train station. Be sure to get breakfast in Lower Baling and buy water and snacks because there is nothing but forest until you reach Mingchih Forest Station Resort 25 kms away (there's a pricey buffet breakfast if you can make it before 8:30). A 10 km climb opens the ride, with a steady, easy grade of 6.5%. The peak is a nameless curve marked by a stand of cedars. Leave as early as possible since you can catch wildlife on the road before the inevitable obnoxious blast of motorcycles after 8. After the peak you'll descend, one of the loveliest descents on the island, before reaching the bottom at the ~63 km mark, after which you climb 3 kms to Mingchih. Climb again, ride along the ridges, descend 10 kms to the river, and then it's 40 kms of rolling downhill to Yilan and the train station. If you leave before 7 am you should make the train station before 1 pm. Definitely one of Taiwan's most enjoyable rides. Can be done in a day, but really demands two days to do it justice.
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