Thursday, August 17, 2006
Great Taiwan Bike Rides IV: Taidong Loop
This ride can be done in one long day. As usual though, I spent the night at the Dulan Sugar Refinery first and spent a bit of time the first morning exploring the area around Dulan. It's about 15km from Taidong to Dulan on Route 11 up the coast.
Then it was off to the beautiful Jinzun beach about eight kilometers up the road where I had a refreshing Espresso ice smoothie and a lounge about the beach.
It's just few more kilometers on Taiwan Route 11 through Donghe proper and the turnoff to Route 23. Ride 5 km on a very gentle uphill grade to the farming town of Taiyuan.
There's a sign in Chinese for Taidong County Road 23 which follows the Mawuku River into an incredibly sleepy valley that time seems to have forgotten. Near Shangde Village I saw a waterfall to the east. I didn't have time to check it out though because it was already 3:30pm. There is a junction at Shangde that looks like it would take you to the waterfall.
There are shops every 5km or so until you reach Qikuaicu The road is a gentle grade until about km 8 where you climb for three or for km before a downhill that takes you into Qikuaicu.
After Qikuaicu you will begin a fairly long climb of about 7 or 8 km. There are no shops along this section which was apparently only paved in the late 1990s. The road is in bad shape, so don't think about riding a road bike through here.
Taidong County Road 23 continues on across the Fuxing Mountan Range and over to Taidong County Road 197 on the eastern side of the Rift Valley. There are no kilometer markers after km. 13 or so; I would estimate that it is 25 km from Taiyuan to the junction with 197 at Zhongye. Be careful on the section after Qikaicu. There is a lot of water on the road since it is paved with concrete, the surface can be very slick indeed. Somewhere around km 17 (estimate), a large tree was blocking the road completely. I was able to slide my bike under it to get through.
From Zhongye it is about another 15 km back to Taidong on a beautiful one lane road that eventually takes you over the tail end of the Coastal Mountain Range. I had some beautiful sunset views of the Pacific Ocean from here. At a village called Fuyuan there are several shops with nice views selling traditional Taiwanese mutton hot pots. This would be a great feed at the end of a grueling day if you were with a group.