Monday, May 08, 2006

Great Taiwan Bike Rides Part II: Taidong to Hualien--the hairy-legged version

Hualien to Taidong via Route 11 too easy for you? Here's a more strenuous version that criss-crosses the Coastal Mountain Range three times! You should be fit, ready to ride about 120 km both days, and be able to handle climbing up to 900 meter in one day on moderate (by Taiwan standard) grades. Rank advises riding from about 5:30am till 11:00 am and then 3:30pm till 6:00pm if possible. It can get really hot--sunscreen and precautions against sunstroke are in order. Assume that you can buy water every 5km unless we say otherwise.

Fly to Taidong with bikes

Taidong->Dulan Friday night on Route 11


Dulan to Donghe on Route 11. Stop at Donghe Baozi shop for great Baozi and bad coffee.

Donghe to Fuli Route 23

Just after the river in Donghe turn left and head west 43 km on Route 23. Although they are widening 23, it is still a beautiful road especially the downhill into the Rift Valley. This passes through a small gorge with very picturesque rice paddies.

If you see an old soldier selling stuff across from the Donghe Recreation farm, be sure to stop and swill some of his chilled organic mulberry juice.

Fuli to Yuli on the Zhuofu Access Road

Arriving in Fuli, consider having some lunch on the main road. Otherwise, you'll have to wait till Yuli. Now ride south till you are near the end of town and take any of the streets/lanes you see east to the railroad tracks. Find the one road that crosses the tracks and head west Across the Xiuguluan River and under Route 9 (elevated here) toward Shiping. Ask if you can't find this road--it is the beginning of the Zhuofu Access Rd. Take the Zhuofu Access Rd to Shiping and head north (the elementary school in Shiping has some nice trees if you need a nap). Stay on the Zhuofu Access Rd. all the way to Yuli.

Yuli to Ruisui on 195

Once in Yuli, head south out of town on Zhongshan Rd. About two km southeast of town, turn left otnto 195 and head north up 195 to Ruisui. In Ruisui, you can eat at the corner of Zhongshan (195) and Zhongzheng (Route 9) at the Taiwanese restaurant's next to the new Family Mart on Zhongshan. Alternatively there is a pretentious bar and restaurant a few blocks south on Zhongzheng with Taipei prices. Once you have eaten dinner, find the railway station and loop around a block to cross the railway tracks. Head west up Wenquan Rd. for about seven km. to find the Hongye hot springs at the very end of the road. This is a Japanese-era hot spring run by an eccentric Taiwanese family that has changed little. Bring a swim suit and soak in the outdoor pools out back. NT$300/night for the tatami rooms. No food but they do have drinks. Plan on a party if you come on any of the major holidays.


Ruisui to Dagangkou

Head back into Ruisui. Get back on Zhongshan Rd. (195) for about 20 seconds an turn left onto Guogung N. Rd. Cross the Fuyuan River and turn right onto Hualian Route 64 otherwise known as the Ruigang Rd.) There is a short but tough climb out of the valley as you head east. Soon you will be rewarded with some gorgeous views down isolated ravines. It's abut 23 km to Dagangkou.

Dagangkou to Fengbin

Ride north on Route 11 past what Rank thinks is the most beautiful section of the Taidong-Hualien coast. You could stop at Shitiping for a delicious seafood lunch or at the Zhuoerqi Studio a few km. north to check out the Salvador Dali style sculpture and an iced coffee smoothie. Fengbin is also an option for lunch. Eat at the restaurant on the right hand-side of the road. The more obvious one on the left is awful. Dagangkou to Fengbin is about 12 km.

Fengbin to Guangfu

Just north of town past the 7-11 and across the river, take Route 11A west toward Guangfu. This is another 22 km crossing of the Coastal Mountain Range. Nice steady grade for about 14km and then a fun downhill. Do stock up on water in Fengbin since this is one of the few sections on this ride that you can't stock up at a betel nut stand every 5 km.

Guangfu to Hualien c. 70km

As you come off the Coastal Mountain Range. look for the Guangfu No. 2 Public Cemetery on your right. This is your landmark to turn right and go north up Hualian Route 195 all the way up to Hualien. This is a beautiful ride through one of the most isolated areas of Taiwan. Some hills but no major climbs.

Train/plane back to Taipei

Train tickets out of Hualien are often available for same-day purchase these days even on Sunday (but don't count on it). Check your bike to Sungshan or Wanhua at the baggage counter.

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