I know I’m skipping a day, but my the photos from the hike are on my DSLR camera, and unfortunately the battery for it is dead and I left the charger in Taipei. I’ve been using my iPhone to capture photos on the highway, and in someways it’s much more convenient. I have a zipped compartment on the front of the bike I leave it in, and I can quickly pull it out to take a photo.
The bike shop opened at 9AM, and I was there just as it opened to pickup the bike I would be using for the four days.
The rental program is quite convenient, you can rent the bike through Giant in Taiwan from one bike shop and return it to another bike shop. My route today is 88KM going from Hualien to a small town 88KM away.
The bike it’s self is equipped with saddle bags, a pump and some other tools. Unfortunately it’s also quite heavy, probably 10 pounds heavier than my road bike at home even with the saddle bags empty.
It rained on and off all day, but it was usually quite a light rain/mist and the temperature was around 20’C. The highway follows the coastline the whole way.
Although it’s a coastal route, the route is still quite hilly. At the start of the day the route climbed from sea level to 200M above sea level, than dropped about a hundred meters, than climbed to it’s peak around 260M above sea level.
On the climbs I was averaging around 10KM/h, the steepest grades today were around 5% which is quite steep for a bike – especially a heavy one. On the downhill sections, I managed to get up to 50KM/h. The roads are generally in excellent shape, no potholes to be found. The asphalt surfaces are in good condition, which is a nice change from back home. One interesting thing about the route is the sheer number of tunnels, I probably biked through 3KM worth of tunnels on the first day. Tunnels are certainly preferred to going over the mountains.
From a break in one of the tunnels, I spotted an abandoned section of road. I could see land slides that were sitting on the old highway, so that gives you an idea of why they built a tunnel.
The one advantage of climbing to over 200M above sea level, is you get a great view of the pacific.
Even if it is a bit cloudy, it’s still a very scenic route.
My tour guide from the previous days hike suggested I stop at small viewpoint at the top of the 200M climb, since he knew a girl that worked there. I was pleasantly surprised that he bought me a drink, and the staff at the viewpoint gave me a free Aboriginal lunch box.
The lunch box is in a stick of bamboo, you have to hit it against a rock to crack it open. In it is sticky rice, with shrimp in the centre. It was very good.
The nice part about cycle touring in Taiwan, is there are small towns everywhere. At many small places, there is a cafe to grab a drink, or a Seven Eleven to stock up on supplies. After cycling for a few hours, it was time for a well deserved iced coffee.
After the large climb, the rest of the highway is fairly hilly but with grades between 2 and 3%. Climbs are typically fairly short, followed by another descent to sea level.
Towards the end of the day, I officially biked from the sub-tropics into the tropics. Along the road is a marker for the tropic of cancer.
The Taiwanese people are generally very helpful and supportive of cyclists, many people while I’m stopped take an interest in where I’m from or where I’m heading to. Other cyclists are typically very friendly as well, waving from the other side of the road. All in all it took around 7 hours to go 88KM.