Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Riding in Kaohsiung and Pingtung

The Eighteen Arhats on Rte 27 just south of Liuguei. I've got a 7.7 mb panorama of these peaks shot from a little further south online here.

Saturday and Sunday I rode around Kaohsiung and Pingtung with my henchman Michael Cannon and some riders from Kaohsiung, including the very cool Mark Roche, whose ride is an awesome touring setup (pics later). Michael Cannon has the route maps for Saturday and Sunday as far as Sandimen, when his GPS died. We did nearly 100 kms on Saturday and just over 100 kms on Sunday. Good workout on two gorgeous days. Click on READ MORE below to enjoy the results.....

We gathered on a corner in Kaohsiung, our destination: Laonung, just a few kms north of Liuguei in Kaohsiung. We picked up a couple of people along the way to form a group of seven: Me, Michael, Gene, Chris, Ann, Mark, and Tim.

Here's a shot of Mark Roche's excellent touring setup. Note the front rack. Jealous smoke came out of my ears when I saw how beautifully he had set up his Giant CRX.

We sped through Kaohsiung to the outskirts to pick up some less crowded roads. One downer of living in K-town is that the mountains are 40 kilometers away.

Ann and Chris.

Heading up to Yanchao for breakfast.

Zipping past the reservoir.

The area around the reservoir was absolutely carpeted with pigeon farms and cages. It must be a major center of pigeon raising and racing in Taiwan.

A couple enjoys a morning bike ride by the reservoir.

Gene rocks a hill, the first of many climbs we would do that day.

From Yanchao we eventually made our way along local roads to Rte 28, which cuts through the moonscape. This was actually the first time I'd ever been here in all my years here.

Cannon checks out the scenery.

There's no area so pretty it can't be improved on with gravel trucks, cement, and temples.

This section of Rte 28 is basically a tourist trap. Here is one of the visitor centers, next to a couple of large temples and some eateries.

We rested at a hilltop.

Ann grabs a drink. A super trooper, I was amazed at her performance.

We stopped for lunch in Cishan.

The downtown.

By midday the weather had totally cleared and it turned into a gorgeous day. Here Michael and Mark cross a bridge on Rte 28.

heading towards the mountains.

Apparently the radish capital of Taiwan; every vendor had a pile.

I thought that pointy peak was Yushan, but Mark corrected me and said it was Guanshan, 3600 meters in height.

Really a gorgeous day, cool and sunny.

Taking a break on (yet another) climb.

Closer and closer to the mountains...

Gene and Michael Cannon.

As we turned north, pavements deteriorated for long stretches.

Mark, far ahead, speeds into Liuguei township and the river gorge.

The arhats from the picture at the top, up close.

The Japanese rammed several tunnels and a road through the little hills for logging -- Cannon actually rode all the way through them.

Really just a lovely day. A perfect day for gravel digging in the river.

We were joined by Christian, from Germany, who rode a Pacific Reach folding bike. Much much faster than I could ride a full size bike. Scary.

Mark makes Liuguei.

From Liuguei we took the Kaohsiung 131, a pretty but steep alternative to the trafficked Rte 27. It once went all the way to Laonung, our goal for the night, but Morakot knocked out the end of the road, as it knocked out so much else. Nevertheless, we enjoyed several kilometers of it.

A roadside shrine, probably for an accident victim.

Finishing a hill.

A massive Buddha statue sits at the base of a landslide, perhaps where a village is buried.

Into Laonung.

Sunday. Dawn. Streaky clouds illuminated by the sun. While the others headed back to Kaohsiung, Michael and I decided to roll down to Fangliao, approximately 95 kms and largely downhill all the way, on the very enjoyable 185. I did that road last year several times and really liked it.

As we nabbed breakfast, the ladies were at work exercising at 6:30 am.

As we headed down Rte 27 to Gaoshu in Pingtung to pick up 185, the sun was slowly brightening the ridges.

Since we were likely to knock out the kms by lunch, we weren't in any hurry. Took lots of pics.

Rte 27 leaves Laonung and heads along the east side of the gorge. Lovely river views...

Lovely river views....

Several enormous temple complexes can be found in the area.

After you slide downhill into a small town, suddenly Rte 27 goes from a generous two lane to a cramped one-lane farm track. Really a sweet section at this point, gently downhill through farm after farm. Highly recommended.

Michael takes a breather.

The sun still had not managed to find its way over the ridges to the east.

But the west side of the river was beautifully illuminated.

Michael climbs.

Construction debris was everywhere.

Road surfaces were often poor.

Across the river, things were totally different. This pic is part of a panorama (7.7 mb).

Picking up 185 off to the left at Gaoshu.

185 is roughly 60 kms of downhill from Gaoshu to the sea. The only drawback is that it gets plenty of traffic and because of the gravel trucks that ply it from one end to the other, the road surface is awful. It will beat your hands and back to bits. But the views of the mountains and the farms are excellent. Highly recommended.

Morning on 185.

Pineapples appear to be the area's biggest crop.

Pineapple fields forever.

Self-portrait, on my way to being totally beat. We didn't really realize it, but the punishing climbs from yesterday had sucked more out of us than we thought.

In the town of Daluguan a few klicks north of Sandimen we stopped for breakfast. The woman running the place proved friendly and helpful. She told us of a local historical site that everyone came from all over to see, a 19th century house just around the corner. In no particular hurry, we rode off to see it.

It turned out to be the ancestral home of the famous Hakka writer Chung Li-he.

Our enthusiastic guide, who took us around the place and explained all of its many interesting artifacts with burbling enthusiasm.

Heading into Sandimen and Shuimen. Past this point the road becomes quite pretty. This was the only hill of the day, but after this we were pretty beat and the slightest incline became a drag.

We threaded our way through Shuimen town to find 185 on the other side.

Michael went off to get some pics over there on the right side of the photo. Shuimen (water gate) takes its name from the Japanese era irrigation works in this picture.

After that, it was through Majia township to points south.

Passing the fields of pineapple.

Straight as an arrow, 185 slashes south.

Nearing Fangliao.

At the train station, a group of Chen Shui-bian supporters was protesting for his release.

But we had made it to the sea.

Two days of riding on great roads in southern Taiwan. Next time, hope to see you! Don't forget, Alishan ride Nov 24-25th!
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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your pictures. I enjoy seeing pictures of places I have never been or will likely ever see.

Andrew E said...

A great collection on shots Michael. The photo of the Eighteen Arhats growing out of the shade is especially nice.

Mike Fagan said...

That was Agongdian reservoir (阿公店 水庫) between Yanchao and Gangshan. Built between 1942 and 1953 (bombed by B-29s during the war, plus other delays). Construction started by the Japanese, finished by the KMT government using the troops they had brought over from China for manual labour. Many of them would likely have died from malaria (so of course there is no plaque or anything to remember them).

Agongdian reservoir is somewhat special in that a major rennovation effort was undertaken in the 1990s to clean it up and keep it working; every year in the wet season it is partially drained to allow wholesale removal of the sediment (which is then either sold or deposited along the coastline). For this reason it may be one of the most expensive of Taiwan's reservoirs in maintenance terms. Yet it is relatively small with a capacity of only 19 million m3. For comparison, Mudan reservoir in Shihmen village in Pingtung is 30 million m3. However, not only are there plenty of farms in the Gangshan area that depend on the reservoir, but there are also a lot of factories and just south of the Luhzu there is a manufacturing zone in which a lot of nuts, bolts, screws and fastener manufacturers are based - some of which supply parts for the car industry.