Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Great Taiwan Bike Rides XII: Taipei-Fulong-Yilan

This ride goes through the back country of Taipei County through Pinglin (坪林) and out to Fulong (福隆). A short second day doubles back to Shuangsi (雙溪) and then down to Dasi 大溪 on the wonderful Shuangtai access road. See Robert's posts on hiking in this area.

From Taipei, ride out to the Taipei Zoo. My preferred route is to ride up to Fudekeng from Liuzhangli. You can also take Wolong St. (臥龍街) out to Jungong Rd. (軍功路) and left on Muzha Rd. Section 5 (木柵路).

Either way, you will want a look at this map when you reach Wanfu Bridge (萬福橋). After crossing the bridge, turn left onto Xinguang Rd (新光) Section 2. There is a little blue arrow on the map that gives the correct direction. Cross under the freeway, staying on Xinguang Rd. until it loops back onto the much larger Wenshan Rd. (文山). Here is a map of this confusing area. Stay on Wenshan Rd. all the way until it crosses underneath Freeway No. 5 and joins Taipei County Route 106. The advantage of this route is that you quickly bypass the horrors of traffic-choked Shenkeng on the other side of the Jingmei River.

On 106, you will quickly come to a junction with a couple of convenience stores, food stands, and, in weekends, a crowd of motorcyclists and bicyclists. Most people will be turning left and heading east to Pingsi. You want to go south on 106B (106乙) toward Shiding (石碇). Here is a map of the junction area. At the junction in Shiding, keep going straight on 106B. Here 106B is locally the Fengtian Rd (豐田道路). Actually you can also go right at this junction and end up on the Beiyi Highway (Highway 9) about 10 km from Pinglin.

I still prefer 106B, despite the fact that this once beautifully isolated road ( early 1990s) has been widened beyond recognition and now winds below the freeway. On the map of the area, it appear that 106B disappears, but if you zoom in you will see that it just goes under the freeway. The climb on 106B goes up to 600 meters on a forgiving grade in this direction. The downhill section into Pinglin is almost completely untouched by the freeway building in the area and the really nice parts of this ride begin here.

Just before Pinglin, turn left and go under the freeway exiting on a small road known locally as Shengsheng Road (上昇). Stay on this road and it turns into the Pingshuang Rd. (坪雙). This dreamy little one-laner is devoid of traffic. Stay to the right at the big Y junction and watch for signs for Shuangsi (雙溪). Map.

After about 15km of riding these hills at around 400 meters, you will descend into the Shuangsi valley and join Highway 2C (2丙). Take this through the impoverished town of Shuangsi all the way out to the coast and enjoy a few well-deserved beers on the beach.

Day 2

Ride back to Shuangsi on Highway 2C. Just before Daping Road (大平) crosses the river, turn left onto the Shuangtai Access Road (雙泰產業道路). Here's a map of the turnoff. If you get to the high school, you have gone too far. There is a fairly difficult climb up to nearly 500 meters, followed by a fairly flat section through a beautiful, isolated valley and then a sharp descent down into the surfer town of Dasi. From Dasi, you have a boring, flat ride on the coast onto Highway 2. In Toucheng, stay to the right and get on Highway 9, which will take you straight into downtown Yilan where you can catch the train back to Taipei and ship your bike back. A stop off in Jiaosi for a soak in the hot springs might be in order to break the dull riding after Dasi. Hint: soon after getting on Highway 9, take a right on Deyang Rd. (德陽) in Jiaosi just after the train station (map). This give access to some backroads that make for nicer riding. Much of the Yilan plain is a pit.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Great Taipei Bike Rides III: Tucheng-Sanxia loop

Here's a great ride that takes 4-5 hours from the Yongning MRT station in Tucheng. You should be reasonably fit and used to climbing if you follow my route

3:00 Arrive at Yongning Station. Ride down Zhongyang Rd. past Foxconn's worldwide headquarters toward the freeway. I have some other alternatives here.

3:10PM Arrive at freeway underpass. Turn left across traffic onto Longquan St. (龍泉街). Start a 5km climb up to abou 200 meters. Lovely shaded road.

3:40 Reach the top. Turn right at the KTVs If you turn left, you will drop back down into Tucheng right back to the MRT station. Downhill to Taipei County Rd. 110. There are some nice views here in the late afternoon. Turn right on 110, and ride for about 1km. Turn left again at the gas station. Here's a map of the area.

4:00 PM Cross the river and head south on Zhulun Rd. (竹崙). At first there are some pretty large stands of betel nut on the slopes on the other side of the valley, but it gets wild and beautiful quickly. I had intended to turn right onto Taipei County Rd. 112 (Also known as Sancengping Rd. 三層坪路) and the ride over to the 4-way junction just outside Chajiao. But I missed the turnoff and went all the way up Zhulun Rd, a ride of about 10km. Again lots of shade in the late afternoon, and easy access to a creek just big enough to have some nice swimming holes. Good views on the way up this single-lane beauty. The United Daily News has a nice writeup in Chinese of the route using 112.

5:30PM Arrive at the Xiongkeng Recreational Farm. c. 750 meters. They have signs with the distance going up the whole way. An incredible sunset view of the entire Taipei basin. Better than anything you will see on Yangmingshan. There is a concrete access road out the back that is closed to regular vehicle traffic and NOT on the maps. This road will take you across the ridge at around 800 meters and then drops very steeply down into Youmu Village (有木). You must have a light for this section. There are a few turnoffs and no signage, but just stay on the road.

6:15PM Arrive in Chajiao. There is a lareg hot spring resort here. Stay on the small road (Tianfu Rd 添福 on the east side of the Dabao River all the way down to Sanxia. Here is a map of the area. Turn left onto Baiji Rd. Take Zongzheng and then Jieshou roads back to Tucheng for 5 or 6km of gritty city riding. You will go under the freeway, passing Longquan Rd. to complete the loop.

7:00PM Back in at Yongning station.

You should allow another hour for coffee, views, and swimming.