Monday, March 10, 2014

Using Taichung as a Biking Base: Routes and commentary

One of the reasons I've come to enjoy living in Taichung is the great weather and the magnificent biking opportunities. An hour will put you in the mountains, with fantastic views and experiences. So here is a guide to some of my favorite routes and roads accessible from Taichung, almost everything here can be done as a day trip from Taichung. For other perspectives and other routes, see the awesome Drew Kerslake at Taiwan in Cycles.

Note that none of the routes here include routes in Ta-ken, the ones that are popular with foreigners and locals. There are exceptions, but a good rule of the thumb is that any road that is popular with locals is inferior and should be avoided. The local riders -- and many foreign riders -- spend their days crashing up the 136 (the testosterone on that road is so thick that nearby chicken farmers swear their birds are 15% heavier than birds raised elsewhere), or on the small roads of Ta-ken, or up the not particularly interesting road past Zhongzheng Park in Fengyuan. Of course much of this is for training, but being old and fat and having time on my hands, I prefer rides that offer good experiences. And you can train on beautiful hills as well as boring ones...

Long post, click on READ MORE and fetch some coffee while it loads. Might want to load up Google Maps too.
Getting up to Hsinshe
Many of my longer rides to the hills east of Taichung begin with a climb up to the Hsinshe plateau, one approach to getting to roads like the 8 and the 21. It rises sharply out of the city, reaching well over 600 meters. Thus, the climbs up to the top of the ridge above the plateau are often good workouts in themselves. Most of the roads I discuss below are on Google Streetview.

The 129 (unmarked): trafficked, hot, unrelenting, the 129 spiraling up from Taichung sucks in every way. However, it is a quick and direct way to reach the top of the plateau. I only take it when I want to get somewhere. This road is like chickenpox, something everyone must go through. It is a dangerous road, especially on the descent and on weekends when it is crowded with daytrippers driving up to Hsinshe (who all cram onto that road creating enormous traffic jams, while all other roads up to Hsinshe are empty), and you'll sometimes see bike brake parts on it as you pass by. On the north side, from the Dongshih side, it's an easy climb, a straight ramp with good views near the top. I often take the north side climb and combine it with some small routes through the plateau, of which there are many.

The 100 (green): This little gem of a road has a couple of nice coffee stops, and makes either a good workout climb or a wonderful little descent.

Taichung 88/Shuijing Road (red): this road makes a great workout, with steep inclines in the center, then flattening for a kilometer along the ridge with great views before the final climb to the summit. Plenty of life from bugs to monkeys, and nary a car, very enjoyable. I often do this when I don't have time for a long ride. This road can be reached from Nanyang Road in Fengyuan (map link). Local riders are common on the lower sections of this road.

Nankeng Lane (purple): A gentle climb through fruit farms brings you to just three kilometers from the top, then it is 25% grades for the rest of the ride. Not for the faint of heart, but empty and lovely. To get to it, take the road to Gonglaoping and Zhongzheng Park in Fengyuan, Shuiyuan Road (map link). You'll come to a Family Mart by the park, with vendors and a small morning market. Turn right, go past the Family Mart and past the morning market -- the local riders will all be going the opposite way to the Fengyuan Golf Course, a total yawner.

The Taichung 93 (orange): To get to this road, locally known as Wanxian Road, follow the 3 around to this point. You'll see a 7-11. Turn right and follow the road until it forks in into the Taichung 92 and Taichung 93, you'll know the intersection by the sudden avalanche of signs pointing to stuff hither and thither. The 93 is about 4 kms of 15%+ grade, very good workout. It brings you to the top of the ridge with great views north to Dongshih. I've never seen a local rider on this one.

The Taichung 92 (blue): Pretty and easy, another quick way up to Hsinshe. Lots of traffic, however.

The Taichung 95 (black): Another gem of a road, great combined with the 8 or the 21. A fantastic and enjoyable descent. Popular with local cyclists, it's an exception to the rule.

I'm not discussing my routes on the plateau itself. You'll have to get up there and explore.

The Fengdong Bike Path
This path is extremely useful for getting to the roads that go north into central and eastern Miaoli. On weekends it is like the chariot race from Ben-Hur, avoid if possible.

The path is easily accessible. One end is where Hwy 4 ends in a junction with the 3, the other is at the Hakka Museum in Dongshih. Along its length it is easily accessed from the 3, and there is a large Merida shop where the 3 forks as it goes past Shigang, a little up the left fork into Shihgang town. View that pic above in large size.

Returning routes out of Dongshih:
Once you've reached Dongshih, two good routes are the road to Da Hsueh Shan (blue), which follows a rigid 6.5% grade up to over 2000 meters, with good views. The road surface is not in good condition in many places, so take care on the descent. It's roughly 130 km round trip, depending where you live in Taichung. The road is clearly marked, just follow the main drag through Dongshih until you see the brown sign for it at the other end of town.

Another good route is the road to Guguan (red), the 8, popular with local cyclists, who race up in the morning to the 7-11 and race back down. Since I am slow, I usually encounter them in the morning on the way down and seldom see cyclists on the way up. This road is very pretty and because the wind is funneled up the river, you have the wind at your back during the climb, making it seem easier. It gets up to 800 meters at the top past Guguan where there is a gate beyond which cyclists may not pass. Stop for lunch/coffee in Guguan, but be sure to climb to the gate, the best views are along that last 3 km stretch. Also roughly 130 kms from Taichung round trip, it makes a good overnight trip because of the inexpensive "spa" hotels there.

Taichung 46
The purple dot identifies one of my favorite local loops, the Taichung 46, which is totally unknown to local riders (pics). This lovely road rises sharply to nearly 1000 meters at the top, then falls steeply back in a loop to the main road. Follow the 8 south out of Dongshih and then on the left before the first bridge over the river you'll see a temple gate. Turn left into there, then when you reach the loop, turn right and follow it up. And up. And up. The government is trying to make a tourism area out of it but it stubbornly resists such development. The road surface is poor and the ramps are steep and often covered with mud and leaves, so be careful on the descent. I'd avoid it if it rained the previous day. Roughly 85 kms round trip from Taichung, it has stupendous views once you gain a little altitude.

Dongchi Road
This road is amazing and a great favorite of several riders I know. On weekends one sometimes sees local riders.

I usually do this road as a loop back to Dongshih (but see below). From Dongshih follow the bike path to the end and keep going straight out the end of the path, past the museum. If you follow that road straight in 100 meters you'll hit a Family Mart. Turn left there. Follow that for about 11 kms and you reach the peak at 600 meters I've marked with the red line (there's about ten surveillance cameras on a pole there, easy to spot), then turn around and roll back to Dongshih for lunch. It makes a nice 85 km round trip from Taichung, not difficult at all with a gentle grade, perfect for newbies. I often do this ride, with its enjoyable views of mountains and farms.

If you continue, you descend a series of switchbacks, always a pleasure, with excellent views out towards the mountains. Climb sharply, then up a long upward grade, and you're in the village of Shuangchi, where you can grab a snack or drinks. Then it is three switchbacks down to the river. If you follow the road NE along the river, the views are spectacular but the climbs can be quite sharp. Well worth the effort, it's roughly 140 km round trip to the end.

The Dongchi Road Loop
Another way to approach the excellent Dongchi Road is from Jhuolan in Miaoli.
Take the road along the north bank of the Dajia River (there are two bridges where it can be crossed). Then turn left (north) onto the 3. Climb that hateful bastard of a hill on the 3 over to Jhuolan. Once you reach Jhuolan, you can (1) follow Zhongshan Road out of town to the east. Highly recommended, shoots through farms and coffee stops. Very nice. Ends in real Taiwan pavement with fields on every side, and a couple of nerve-wracking bridges that are just plates of metal; or (2) turn right immediately as you cross the bridge and follow the river. An easy gentle upward incline with plenty of great views. Either way, when you reach the bridge, cross it, and turn right up the three steep switchbacks to the village atop the bluff. This is an excellent little ride, with quite a bit of climbing and great views of forest and farm terrain. Highly recommended, about 90 kms loop from Taichung.

Routes from Jhuolan
To access these routes, you follow the bike path until you reach the tourist center where the old blue train cars are. Leave the bike path and go out by the parking lot, turn left immediately and follow that road across the bridge and around towards the 3. Pick up the 3, climb that bastard of a hill I hate so much, then roll down to Jhuolan. From Jhuolan, so many great routes in Miaoli, Taiwan's best kept secret.

Pinglin Road (red squares): 15 kilometers of brutal short climbs, with grades between 10% and 21%, will give you a workout in farming country with excellent roads, few cars, and no other cyclists. You come back to the 3 at Nanhu where there is a big Family Mart and several restaurants where you can rest and recharge, then return to Taichung via the 3 and the bike path. Highly recommended. 90 kms from Taichung, give or take.

3 + 52-1 (green):
Instead of turning at the light at the top of the long climb out of Jhuolan, go straight on the 52-1. You climb a bit more into fruit farms, then descend a long, steep, fun downhill to the 13. A good light workout, 75 kms from Taichung, give or take.

Miaoli 52-3 (orange): this outstanding road is empty of cars and riders. It meets the 3 at km 140. Follow the gentle upward grade through farms and hills along the reservoir, then the last two km are brutal 30% grades. Once you reach the top, it's an amazing downhill ride snaking along watercourses and farms, until you pop out below the dam. Totally excellent.

Miaoli 54: This road starts at the highest point on Pinglin Road and runs west to the 3. A lovely rolling ride atop the ridgeline. Post with maps here.

Miaoli 54-1: To find this sweet little road take Zhongzheng Road north out of Jhuolan. Just below the cemetery it turns into the 54-1. It climbs up through the cemetery, rising ever more steeply as you climb. From the top of the ridge it rolls up and down for the rest of the ride, until you hit the 54 and it ends, 8 kms later. Not a level spot on it, it cuts through farms and past the reservoir, kilometers of quiet empty pavement. Post with maps and details here.

The 130 (blue): This outstanding route is my favorite and I usually try and hit it once a month. Follow the 3 out of Jhuolan, climbing up, then down past the reservoir, then up again. When it plateaus, you'll see the sign for the 130. Turn left and start climbing. It's roughly 5 kms of 10% average grade, but some of the ramps are brutal. Near the top you'll see a large wooden building on the right hanging out over the hillside, that's the Mile High Cafe where we always stop for coffee and lunch. Tell A-Shen, the girl who runs the place, that you're my friend and she'll treat you right. The area has a ginger festival (locals know it as the Jiang Ma Yuan) and also grows oranges, red plums, and strawberries. Local cyclists know this road but you won't see many.

After the Mile High Cafe, climb the last switchback and the long ramp up to the top. Lovely views all the way up if the weather is good. Down the fantastic long descent to the T-junction marked by a gigantic rock. Turn LEFT (right takes you to Sanyi and the nearest train station) and follow the road (Miaoli 49) and the signs to the Broken Bridge (Longteng Broken Bridge) through a conservation area of forest and small farms, past some coffee shops, and then to the bridge. Once you hit the Broken Bridge, go past it about 200 meters and you'll come to an intersection, take the RIGHT across the little bridge and congratulations! you're climbing again, then down a nasty steep descent to a road running east-west. That takes you back to the 13 (to the west) eventually, and you can come home through Houli and Fengyuan. Total route is 100 kms or so from Taichung, with over 1100 meters of climbing. A great workout, decent food, excellent scenery, and some history. What could be better?

Mingde Reservoir
If you follow the 3 to Shitan, you'll hit the 126 and the road to the Mingde Reservoir (not on the map). This pretty lake is quiet and untrafficked. Well worth a visit. Take the road around the north side, and follow the 13 home. 145 kms round trip from Taichung.

The West Coast North of Taichung
The 13/130: I usually avoid the town of Sanyi, which is a mess on weekends, a gigantic lemming migration. But the 130 from Sanyi town down to the coast is a fun descent, with a nice climb up the 13 to get to Sanyi.

The 140: If you follow the 13 out of Houli, take the 140, the turn to the left is just at the foot of the climb to Sanyi. Follow that road all the way to the 61, the coast highway, you can ride alongside and underneath it. Ignore the 1. If you have a sudden urge to ride the 1, lie down til it passes. If it persists, see a doctor.

A variant of this is to take the first road off to the right from the 140, which will take you to Yuanli through rice farms and old houses. I marked it with a red dot; it is designated the Miaoli 47. There's a Family Mart at the halfway mark. Coming back from the coast, it makes an excellent alternative to the 140, a long uphill slog.

The 132: Definitely needs to be done once. This otherwise nondescript, crowded four lane nightmare takes you into the heart of Dajia and the famed Matsu Temple there. After you've taken it to see the Matsu Temple, never ride it again. It sucks.

The 1: This road should be plowed under, the buildings along it destroyed, and the ground underneath salted over as a warning to the next ten thousand generations that some development comes at too high a price. Unquestionably the worst road in Taiwan, the 1 is an abyss of car repairs, truck traffic, gas stations, and convenience stores from one end of Taiwan to the other. Even the betel nut girls are sub-par. Just try finding a simple noodle restaurant anywhere along its length when you need one. Ignore the 1 unless necessary. There is no need to tell you that on the weekends this white line nightmare is crowded with local riders, who often take it on their way round the island. It drives me to despair watching healthy young people ride this road when practically any road south is better.

The 61: When you reach the coast, take the 61. You can (1) see the ocean (2) avoid traffic (3) duck under the elevated highway to get out of the sun (4) cut quickly over to the seashore bike path. That path begins right after leaving Tongxiao and is well worth leaving the 61/1 for. Just work your way down to the ocean on any small roads between the 61/1 and the sea, many are marked as bike routes.

Coming back to Taichung the secret way: Once you have done the coast, you must return to the city. And that means hill climbing because of the bluffs along the river, or climbing Tatu Shan, which isn't very high, but is a pain in the ass when you're returning from a 160 km ride, or climbing back to Sanyi (god no!). You can return via the 140 back to the 13, but the 140 is a very long upward incline, painful when I am tired. The 132 has several short sharp climbs and is full of traffic. I hate both.

There is, however, another solution: the secret way up Tatu Shan that is fast and easy. This route takes you up to the HSR and the 10, and then intersects the Tanzih bike path, which pops you out on Zhongshan Road (Beitun Road) in Tanzih, a few kilometers from Taichung. I've put a map on Google maps, since this route is complicated and non-intuitive. It starts from under the intersection of the major 3 and 4 highways which you can easily reach from [shudder] the 1. You go east and then when the road ends in a kilometer, you follow the gravel trucks up a road that runs along a stream, which you can't see from the road. You'll pass the gravel company and then reach the top. It's counterintuitive. There's an intersection right before the top. Go RIGHT and then when you reach the main road, go LEFT. If you can't find the road from the bottom, follow a gravel truck. Do not take the climb on the corner of Tatu Shan which is easily seen from the highway intersection; it is brutal. When you get to the top, follow the road as it curves around, then go straight. You'll go through a small town, pass a couple of Hi-Lifes (turn right at the second Hi-Life, a big one), then come up alongside the HSR. After you pass under it, go straight on Sanmin Road and you'll hit the bridge on the bike path over Sanmin Road. Take bike path back to Taichung.

Tatu Shan:
I almost never ride on this mountain, so I don't have routes to offer.

Gaomei Wetlands
An easy 80 km flat round trip from Taichung. Take the 10 out past the airbase and descend into Chingshui, then go down to the 61. Follow the 61 until you reach Gaomei Road (there are signs). Once you reach the wetlands, take some iconic photos of the wind machines there, and then turn north along the shore, follow that road to the river and turn east to return to cross the 1 and return to Taichung via the secret way to climb Tatu Shan above.
You can combine this with a trip to the Taichung fishing port for seafood. Once.

Routes South
There are three basic rides south through flatness that is Changhua. The first is to ride to Lukang (many routes). The second involves looping Baguashan. The third consists of longer routes to Chiayi and points south. I'm not going to bother with Lukang as it is a simple ride, though you should go out to the 61 once you've done the city and follow the small roads up the coast and cross the river on the 17 and then take the bike path to Taichung. Some interesting terrain there.

Hugely popular with weekend riders from Taichung and Changhua, the easy climb up the 139 to the road atop Baguashan offers excellent views, with tea farms at the south end.
From Taichung, the simplest way is to take Fuxing S Road along the south side of the city until you reach the great bridge on [shudder] the 1. Cross into Changhua, then find the 139. The entrance is near the old Changhua Bank Building. There's a nice old kendo school nearby worth a look. Any of the ways down off the mountain is a blast. Good luck!

The other interesting road, though it is not nice, is the 137. The north end near Changhua and Yuanlin is a pesthole, but the south end has some old houses that date back to the 18th century. Worth a look once. The southern end of the 137 offers Tianzhong and Ershui, both of which have lots of Japanese-era buildings lying around uncared for. They are connected by a bike path whose surface is awful. When you swing around the south end of the 137 you pick up the 152 and return to Nantou city. Instead of following the 3, take the 14B, a few kilometers of empty farm road, very nice, and then climb over the 74 to return to Taichung via Liming Road or Wenxin Road. Either of these will be about 100 kilometer round trip from Taichung. If you get tired, bring a bike bag, you can board a local train in Ershui and be back in Taichung in an hour.

South out of Changhua: routes and remarks
Getting through Changhua city: skip the city by taking the alternate 1 that loops around its northwest side (AKA Jinma Road). It is the first major intersection after you cross the bridge (Follow the road off to the right when you get off the bridge! Don't go into the tunnels after the bridge). That comes down to the 19, get on the 19 and head south.

From there you have several options. You can work your way out to the coast. Yawn. The coast south of Lukang is desolate and windswept, the local economy in shambles. I avoid that. Or you can take one of the interior routes.

Assuming you are headed to Chiayi or Tainan, my personal favorite is to take the 19 down to the 145, which you hit a few kilometers south of Xihu. The road forks and there is a large Family Mart there. Take the LEFT fork which shoots straight down for a few kilometers. You then come to the highlight of the ride, the big red bridge in Xiluo. You can cross the bridge, get a snack in Xiluo and return, having done 130 kms or so round trip, all flat.

If you want to continue, there is a minor problem: the 145 takes a funky jag here, and it is unmarked.
When you hit the first major intersection, Yanping Road, take a right and then immediately go left off at an angle. There is no sign to tell you to turn. LOL. If you want to linger in Xiluo, take a left on Yanping Road, there are some interesting buildings from the 1930s there.

From there I usually head to Chiayi HSR/Tainan or Douliu. From Douliu I take the train back, a flat and easy 80 km run.

For Chiayi, take the 145 all the way to Tuku or Beimen. In Tuku I pick up the 145A and then head due south through Taibao until I hit the 37, the HSR road. Or I go through Beimen, cross the river, and then turn left onto the 159 and take that to the 37. Either way I go to the HSR station, bag my bike, and take the HSR back to Taichung. That's a nice 120 km ride for me, flat, and 20 minutes back in the HSR. Pro tip: I stand with my bike in car 1, which is at the end of the train nearest the Taiwan Railway Station at the HSR. This shortens my walk to the train station lugging bike and stuff when I am tired and stinky.

For Tainan, you follow the 145 through Chiayi until you hit the 19 near Beimen, then follow the 19 to Tainan. It's marginally better than [shudder] the 1. The 19A is also a possibility.

Whatever happens, don't consider taking [shudder] the 1. If anyone suggests taking [shudder] the 1 south, just shoot them. The courts will be lenient.

The Central Mountain Range
East of Taichung is some fabulous biking accessible in a day or as an overnight trip. You should procure a bike bag for flexibility and a good camera. And a few good friends to enjoy it with.

East of Taichung:
Due east of the city there are three major routes. For the hills in Taiping and Wufeng which I know nothing about, find Nathan Miller, the expert on that complex and steep road network, on Facebook or join the Taichung Cycle group on Facebook.
The 136. This steep, demoralizing, unrewarding road has an unbeatable "is this thing over yet?" feeling exceeded only by the detestable climb up Niushan south of Hualien. The top is invariably hazed over and nothing can be seen, so your effort at climbing this ever steepening road (nicknamed "the Fence" by local riders) comes to naught. Going down the other side, you find yourself on [shudder] the 14, a truck route, potholed, noisy, and lined with tourist traps. Avoid like the plague, it is a total waste of time. Nevertheless, if you are a strong rider, it is a route down to the 14. So is a taxi.

The 21: This marvel is best accessed from the north end. Get thee to Dongshih, then take the 8 south out of Dongshih. Cross at one of the two bridges near Dongshih and take the road on the south side of the river, it's less crowded and much prettier. The climb up tops out at about 800 meters and is not difficult. But the descent down to Guoxing near Puli is pure alpine switchback heaven. Back to Taichung on the hideous 14 to the hideous 3, unless you want to climb the brutally steep 136. 120 kms depending on how you go.

You can also reach the 8 by going over Hsinshe, enabling you to put in lots of climbing.

The Xinghe industry Road (purple box): I've been on many parts of this road, it is lovely. Good luck not getting lost, though.

Gods above, it's beautiful in Nantou. Several of my favorite rides go through here. First, the area around Sun Moon Lake.....
Sun Moon Lake: now a disaster of Chinese tourists and the tour buses that carry them, avoid the lake to the extent possible. Visit once just to see it. It is a gigantic tourist trap in the shape of reservoir, a monstrous sinkhole into which Chinese tourist dollars are poured. I am all in favor of this, tourist dollars are nice, and it keeps the Chinese tourists away from the really enjoyable, spectacular, and interesting areas of Nantou.

147-131-Nantou 63: This is one of my favorite routes, culminating in the glorious Nantou 63, one of the island's loveliest roads. Take the 3 or the 136 to the 14, then follow the 14 to the 147. That portion of the ride will drag and you will catch yourself wondering if you passed the 147. It's farther than you think. Follow the 147 south through farms and hills until it summits at the 131, then turn east (left) towards the lake. The 131 will eventually take you to the 21. Climb the 21 to the lake, circle around the east side to Ita Thao (De Hua) village on the SE side of the lake. Have lunch. Behind the gas station you will see the sign for the Nantou 63. Climb three switchbacks to the top of the ridge above the lake (lovely views). Then prepare thy heart, for the Nantou 63 (purple box) is like an alpine descent dagger slashing through the heart of the mountains down to the 16. Take the marvelous 16 back to Shuili and take the train home to Taichung. 80 kms. If you want to bike back to Taichung, it is 60 kms on the 16 and the 3, crappy roads all the way. Really not worth it.

If you're not up for Sun Moon Lake, you can follow the 131 to Shuili, going south (right) instead of east (left). That's a short route of some 60 kms from Taichung. An easy climbing route for beginners.

The 131: Another pleasurable experience is to take the train to Shuili and then do a loop on the 131/Nantou 63. The 131 is one of the prettiest roads in Taiwan and is lovely along its entire length. From Shuili it climbs steadily past the reservoir until it summits at the intersection with the 147 among farms and hills. Starting from Puli is also recommended, you can get a bus to Puli near the train station in Taichung and return home via the 3.

The 152 (red): this is a sweet little road, the old road to Shuili supplanted by the modern 16. It runs next to the railway and is lined with tall trees, very pretty. On its way to Shuili it will take you to Jiji, the town-cum-tourist trap which is packed on the weekends, one of those places famous for being famous.

The 21. The 21 south of Puli to Sun Moon Lake is a traffic nightmare, avoid it. South of Shuili it is gorgeous and climbs 75 kilometers until it reaches the summit of Tatajia at 2800 meters, then swings down to the 18. That's an overnight ride.

Lugu Area:
Filled with tea farms, I have only begun to explore this area. There are several wonderful routes.
The 149: The 149 goes due south out of Jhushan town. To get to Jhushan, you can either ride the hideous 3 50 kms through south Taichung and Nantou and across Jhushan town, or take the train to Ershui and ride the 3 for about 5 kms. I highly recommend the train.

The 149 is surrounded by good rides, but a simple century ride I do sometimes involves riding to Jhushan and then hitting the 149, climbing to the 158A, which is empty of traffic, and then climbing through the tea fields. Neither difficult nor high, it is pretty. The 158A then descends back to the 3, which I use to return home. The 149 runs through a river gorge and is quite pretty, well worth a ride.

Lugu (blue spackles): Many riders take the 151 up. You can avoid the climb at the bottom by taking the side road I've marked up until you reach the 151. The grade on the 151 is gentle and it goes up to Xitou, but if the cars are too much for you, cross the gorge on one of the bridges and climb up the steeper parallel road on the other side. Overnight in Xitou, then on day 2 get up very early, like dawn, and climb up the twelve turns, each named for a Chinese astrological sign, to Sanlinxi at 1700 meters. Near the top you will see the turnoff for the Nantou 49. Turn right through the cedars (the route is on Google Streetview!) and plummet down through the tea farms back to Jhushan. An experience like no other. Pavement is bad or nonexistent in places and farm equipment is everywhere, so be careful. Go up early to ensure you make it before the fog rolls in.

Well, this is probably enough. Happy riding! Feel free to find me on Facebook or use gmail if you have questions.
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!


Jenna Lynn Cody said...

I wonder - why would the routes popular with locals be inferior? I can't imagine that locals think "well I want to go biking, let's choose the worst route!". They probably think they've chosen the best routes. What's the disconnect here?

Also is it wrong of me that when I saw this post my first thought was "the best thing about Taichung is talking about how to get out of Taichung"?


(not sorry)

Michael Turton said...

""They probably think they've chosen the best routes. What's the disconnect here?""

They like riding up short, sharp hills, for training. But because the hills are short, they often don't have good views and lack other stuff (coffee stops, etc). And their length of their routes is short. For example, they ride up the 136, 700 meters, but then they turn around at the top, a few kms outside of Taichung. They seldom head out to Nantou or Changhua for a longer ride. I never run into them doing rides for any historical purpose. Finally, they always do the same roads. Again and again and again. It's very predictable.

That's the disconnect.

Anonymous said...

"the chariot race from Ben-Hur" That comment cracked me up. Good one. And true.
Well-done post, Michael.

Cheers from Merican Teachr (otherwise known as Surly Mike)

Jenna Lynn Cody said...

Huh. If they're never going to take longer rides then what's the point of "training" on the short steep hills? And I wonder why they always do the same roads. Since nobody ever thinks "I want to do an inferior bike trip", I have to wonder what about this is appealing.

One of my private students in Taipei is an avid cyclist with one of those groups, but from his Facebook posts, they do take longer rides (around Taiwan, down the entire East Rift Valley, up and over Yangming Mountain and down to Sanzhi etc) and they do enjoy good views (or cherry blossoms) and stop at the coffeeshops along the way. They don't seem to ride roads for historical purposes though.

Michael Turton said...

One of my private students in Taipei is an avid cyclist with one of those groups, but from his Facebook posts, they do take longer rides (around Taiwan, down the entire East Rift Valley, up and over Yangming Mountain and down to Sanzhi etc) and they do enjoy good views (or cherry blossoms) and stop at the coffeeshops along the way. They don't seem to rid

Sure, but when they ride the Rift, they ride the 9 and the 193. They don't ride the 197, or the Zhuofu Industry Road, or the Hua 64 or the 23. They stick to the same few roads, predictably. The Sanzhi ride is the well known route above YMS. There aren't many routes there, but you can be sure they are not on any tiny agricultural roads....


Ally said...

Hi thanks for sharing these. I noticed most routes seem to be good work outs and I applaud your fitness. Which easier route would you suggest for a beginner who hasn't ridden a bike in years?

Michael Turton said...

Ally, the Dongchi Road route is a gem and not difficult. Take the bike path out to Dongshih, climb to the peak of Dongchi Road, roll 40 kms home bcak to Taichung.

SlowRain said...

A very quick, simple question: Is there a map that shows all the designated cycling trails in the Dakeng/Taiping area? There's a trail in front of Warehouse 185, which I didn't even know about until a couple weeks ago.


Unknown said...

Hi Michael, a friend and I are coming to Taichung this weekend for a 2 day cycle and we were wondering if you could suggest a route that would take us somewhere scenic but also offering a nice ride and challenge. We were thinking of leaving the city (any direction is fine) ride for 65-80 km and then get lodging for the night in the country and then come back another route Back to Taichung maybe 50 km. Part of the Saturday ride can involve heading back towards Taichung on a circular route of sorts. Any suggestions, we are semi flexible with distances. We are flying out at 2:00 pm on Sunday.