Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Leaving Taitung city for Chenggong on Sunday.

Man. It's been months since I've done back to back days of 100 kms. I was terrified I'd never be able to ride like that again. I'm still among the walking wounded, but at least I was able to ride a couple of easy 100 km days across southern Taiwan. What a joy! As always, click READ MORE...

We met up on Friday night in Fangliao, a nondescript fishing village in Pingtung which will likely become a mini-Mecca for journalists if Tsai Ing-wen is elected president. Although there isn't much to Fangliao, it is the site of many happy ride memories for me, the starting point for many wonderful experiences. In Fangliao I highly recommend this little place above, the Hotel Ocean, 85 Lungshan Road (across from the Family Mart), very clean, with an uber enthusiastic owner who treated us to bananas and wax apples and also insisted I try her brother-in-law's sweet potato ice cream for breakfast.

My close friends Kenji Sugata and Jeff Miller and I sped off on a lovely morning. We planned to ride down to Checheng, then climb the 199 and cross over to Taitung, sleeping in Tawu. Little did we know that everything would go exactly as planned.

It was a gorgeous puffy white cloud day, with plenty of sun.

At least a hundred cyclists formed this massive train extending for a couple of kms down towards Kenting.

Nope. No photoshop here.

As always, a pleasure of biking is meeting other cyclists. Here Jeff talks with one doing the round the island ride before doing his military service.

We stopped in Checheng for coffee again since there hadn't been enough coffee in my Family Mart coffee. Then we turned onto the 199, one of the most enjoyable roads on the island.

Jeff and Kenji ride through Shimen where the battle between Japanese troops and local aborigines took place in 1874.

We had lunch in Mudan town, below, then began climbing the switchbacks. They are easy and the views are excellent.

Unfortunately the reservoir above Mudan was as empty as all the other reservoirs in southern Taiwan.

From there the terrain becomes rolling, rural, and forested.

A monkey works its way along some telephone wires.

This is a very easy ride, and very pleasant.

My hero for the day was this incredible young woman, whom we had seen earlier in Mudan. She had climbed all the way up to the small village where we stopped for water on this crappy bike.

It began to rain and fog...

Weeping Lake was fogged in, evocative.

We pushed through the fog...

At Shouka where the 199 joins the 9, we found that the police station is now closed, so you can't get water there. But you can always find other cyclists resting there to have a chat with. Here Jeff exchanges opinions with an insurance salesman from Taipei doing the round-the-island ride by herself.

Quickly we descended to the east coast down the 9. I kept alive my streak of accidents occurring right in front of me on the 9, watching in terror as a station wagon attempted to pass someone on the right, banged off the wall, and spun out in the road. I was afraid he'd continue right across and smack me as I descended. Fortunately no one was hurt. Here Jeff and Kenji enjoy the great weather on the coast in Daren Township.

Construction is omnipresent now. Twenty years ago this was a sleepy little road....

We passed the night in Tawu, having come 95 kms. Wow was I stiff and sore. But elated. Good to ride. We stayed at the old brothel that advertises itself as a biker hostel. Unfortunately the rooms have interior windows into which the lights shine at night, so I didn't sleep well.

Then it was up the coast on Sunday to Chenggong.

Even a flat couldn't stop us.

Heading into Taitung...

We stopped in Taitung for lunch, which turned out to be ice cream and nothing else. Then it was off the coast. Here a man harvests sugar cane.

Now in fashion: walking around Taiwan. We saw lots of people like this young man.

The rest of the story is quickly told. We arrived in Chenggong after 107 kms. I felt good, and even better after Taiwan beer, sashimi, and a meal of aboriginal specialties. The following morning I ran back to Taitung train station, 60 kms, mostly downhill, very enjoyable ride in the early morning cool.

Another great coast ride. Hope to see you on my next one!
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Mike Fagan said...

In my mind at least, Fangliao has always been a significant milestone on the drive south to Kenting; it's where you should be after about two hours on the approximately three hour drive (motorbike) down to Kenting from Tainan, or alternatively where I would be after an hour on the two hour drive down to Kenting from where I used to live in Kaohsiung.

Cary said...

Glad you're back on the horse! That must feel good. Wishing you continued robust health.