Friday, June 17, 2016

Holiday Riding in Hsinchu and Miaoli

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Been super busy, so still catching up on a wild week... But last week Drew and I went up to visit Shangtianhu, but never made it. Instead, we rode out to the Zhangxueliang house. Our ride began, as many have, with a quick run up to the Hsinchu HSR in Zhubei. The mountains east of Hsinchu are actually quite accessible from that HSR. Click on READ MORE....


We headed east on the 120, ducked over to the 123 heading south, then found the Hsinchu 37.

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Drew resolute in front of Taiwan' s many interesting bridges.

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The first sign basically describes our economy.

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Crossing the bridge on the 123.

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In town on our way to the 3. Naturally, no sign tells you where it is.

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Following the 3 towards Beipu and the Hsinchu 37

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A very holy place.

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Treats.

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Finally, in the back of town, we found the road down to the Hsinchu 37.

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And headed for the hills.

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The old road, hidden and abandoned.

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The Hsinchu 37 is really a pretty road along its entire length.

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There's also plenty of old houses and stuff. Here are public washing stones along the road, actually being used.

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Drew takes a break, the first of many on a supremely hot day.

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The hills. Yup, had to climb them.

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Excellent views.

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Drew grabs a shot.

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One of the many communities along the road.

This road doesn't go through, we were told.

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The 37 swings to follow a river which turned out to be a major local playground.

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Camping! BBQ!

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The water full of people.

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Drew poses at another break.

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Up we went. The road became a succession of 15-25 degree grades, very difficult in the midday heat.

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An old bridge....

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Many old houses dotted the area.

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Hot and tired, I made a wrong turn, and instead of coming down below Shangtianhu, I came down at Shangpin, where we had planned to stay the night. It was just as well. I was starving after the bitter work on the Hsinchu 37. Pretty, but the last 5 kms of hills are brutal.

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Drew goes to photograph the river gorge.

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Shangpin has some great old buildings. And absolutely nothing else. It's the kind of place where in the evening you go sit in the Hi-Life, drink beer, shooting the breeze with the local dogs, and watch the locals come by.

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After we had lunch and dropped off stuff at our hotel, we began the 15 km climb to the Zhangxueliang house, where Marshall Zhang was confined between 1947 and 1956 for having the effrontery to kidnap Chiang Kai-shek.

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The 122 up to the Zhangxueliang house is a lovely road through the mountains.

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... and here we are at the Zhangxueliang house, 15 kms later. It poured the whole way up. Not fun, but at least we climbed most of the way. At the 11 km mark there's a tunnel which is the peak, then you descend down to the Zhang house.

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Drew inspects the village.

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The house. Which I believe is a replica.

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Your trusty blogger....

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This historical narrative is one of the dumbest I have read at a historical site in Taiwan. Hopefully the new administration will start bringing a few truths in.

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On an ugly day, a lovely girl.

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We headed back down the gorge to Shangpin and dinner. The opening portion of the ride was dry, but it soon started to pour.

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The clouds roll in.

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Drew grabs a last photo. If it had only been the rain and the road and us, it would have been ok, but in fine Taiwan style, the drivers utterly failed to slow down, especially the trucks. It was a terrifying ride, blinded by the rain, slipping, and dodging cars.

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At last we reached our hotel, where the staff had decoratively arranged a large housefly for me.

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But the room was big, and the place was dry, and the shower was nuclear powered.

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The north side of Shangpin.

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The other side of Shangpin.

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In the morning we rode the 122 back to Beipu. It's a lovely road, and crowded with cyclists.

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Rolling farm country, very appealing on a warm wet morning.

A woman carries a few treasures home from the market in Beipu.

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In Beipu we got on the 3 and followed that all the way back to Taichung. This section of the 3 is magnificent. Even though it is a well trafficked four lane road, it is well worth a ride.

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It takes you past the reservoirs of southern Hsinchu and northern Miaoli.

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With excellent views across to the mountains beyond.

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We stopped for breakfast in one of the many mountain communities. Frontier towns, Drew observed, logging communities in the 19th century, still churning out lumber, and still retaining a certain frontier feel.

Goodies for sale.

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The 3 is hilly until you reach Taichung.

And winding...

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From the 3 we made for the Mingde Reservoir on the 126. The day before Mark Roche, one of Taiwan's most accomplished foreign cyclists, had posted his ride on the Miaoli 16, which Drew and I had never noticed before. It looked great, and we were shocked to find it ran on the south side of the reservoir. Why hadn't we ever seen it before? We resolved to go find it.

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Mingde Reservoir is lovely and always quiet. Highly recommended as a long ride from Taichung.

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Drew quickly discovered the reason we had never seen it: in fine Taiwan style, it isn't marked if you come from the east side, and marked only by this tiny sign from the west. Taiwan roads are marked on a need-to-know basis *sigh*. And you don't need to know...

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Calling Alexander Synaptic!!

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The Miaoli 16 turned out to be an attractive and empty farm road. Highly recommended.

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Climbing, it rolls around the lake shore, and ends up at the 13.

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None of the climbs are very difficult.

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The reservoir.

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When you reach the lake, the leisure farm and bike path area begins.

Some tourists have more than 2 legs.

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A group of cyclists came up, but they soon turned off.

The road is designated a bike route, with milestones.

A local, fortified with beer and cigarettes, cases the joint for fish. The bucket, he told me, was full of bait, not caught fish.

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The dam.

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We followed the 13 towards Taichung. The 13 winds through Miaoli town, one of Taiwan's dullest, then climbs. And climbs. And climbs. But at least they knocked down the buildings at the top, so for the moment, there are views over the city.

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But as we neared Sanyi, it began to pour.

We had nothing to prove, and neither of us wanted to come off that big hill from Sanyi down to Taichung in the rain. We ducked into the train station, and finished the ride on a local train. Two great days of lovely hills.
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1 comment:

willy doit said...

Great pic,s. Thanks