Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Year Riding

Last week the excellent weather over Chinese New Year was a veritable invitation from the Bike Gods to enjoy some of central Taiwan's superb rides. So off we went....

Twice last week I rode along Pinglin Road out of Jhuolan between Jhoulan town and Nanhu at the beginning of the strawberry area around Miaoli. A rolling lane that runs 15 kms through hillside farms with little traffic, it was a total stress beater.

Route 3 between Taichung and Dongshih was a mess with New Year party crowds heading to the spas of Guguan and the strawberry fields of Dahu, but local police kept up a rearguard action to prevent total anarchy from breaking out.

In Tanzih I met up with my friend Simon. Last time we met, in Hualien, he had just gone over Hehuanshan in the winter, battling rented tour bikes through the ice and snow.

We picked up Emily on the bike trail.....

...then crossed the great bridge on 3 into Jhuolan town.

Emily, who got her bike from my man James Murray at 185 Warehouse, glides by a big tree and temple in Taiwan. Everyone pays attention to the temple worship, but no one talks about the Big Trees. Yet Big Tree worship is ubiquitous in Taiwan. I've never been able to find a serious scholarly article on its origins and functions. Anyone out there got one?

A vineyard. Jhoulan township is famed for its grapes.

Riding into the hills on an absolutely clear day.

Even in the winter when all is brown, the road promised a stunning spring.

Pinglin Road is rolling and some of the hills are quite steep. It makes for a great workout.

Everywhere families were getting together for the New Year celebration.

Emily works her way up a tough hill.

Stunning views on the way down.

More great views.

Another poor victim of a drive-by shooting.

In Nanhu for lunch, the crowds were rolling down Route 3 bound for the strawberry fields, forever at the pace the cars were moving.

Between the traffic and the vendors, Route 3 was a struggle.

We stopped at the top of the ridge above Jhuolan to take in the stunning vistas.

I took Simon down to the dam, where a group of comely young lasses insisted on pictures with us.

On Saturday Drew and Simon and I met up for Route 21 south from Dongshih to Guosing, one of the best easily accessible rides in central Taiwan, a workout involving two climbs of 400 meters and then a wonderful twisting downhill into Guosing for lunch. Drew's post on this ride is here.

The first climb takes you up to Hsinshe via 129, which I always refer to as the Death Spiral from its combination of blind curves and crazed drivers. On a clear day the pollution over Taichung is quite visible. We always stop for drinks at the 7-11 and then proceed south on 93 to continue climbing, eventually reaching over 600 meters.

Then its wheeeeee down a miniature set of Alpine turns to the Dajia River. That's Simon heading for the bottom curve there.

From there we turn east and ride along the river until reaching the beginning of Rte 21.

The grade on Rte 21 is not difficult....

....and the views are excellent.

At the top there's the inevitable coffee shop, but it was closed for the holiday.

Next comes the fabulous downhill into Guosing. A total blast. This route should be on everyone's list.

The hills covered with betel nut trees.

Hairpin turns on 21.

Alas, a few more kilometers until lunch.

Stopping for lunch in Guosing town.

From Guosing we set out for Rte 14 back to Changhua. Drew and I both heartily detest 14, an unlovable mess of tourist traps, trucks, and pointless hill climbs.

Fortunately after 10 kms or so there is a shortcut through the farming areas that takes one over to Rte 3 and Taichung.

168 peaks.

The road winds through a number of little communities.....

...where everyone was out enjoying the fine weather.

On Sunday I paid a visit to the port area, home of straight roads and strong winds, for sashimi.

So did a lot of other people.

We went home along the north side of the Dajia, 10 kms of rice fields....

...and little else.

My new Canon Powershot S95 performed as expected. Most of the photos above were taken while moving. I am deliriously happy with the Powershot's fun functions, its clean shots, and ease of use.

Hope to see you on a road soon!
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! Delenda est, baby.


Gridman said...

"Another poor victim of a drive-by shooting"???!

That's one heck of a throwaway line!

Anonymous said...

Awesome. My wife's family drove us along the same basic routes in mid-November on an equally beautful day and it was really wonderful to see these sites again... !!!

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