Sunday, December 07, 2008

Yangmingshan Riding Notes

I have never been a big fan of biking in the Yangmingshan area. Sure, it's beautiful. But there is too much car traffic on weekends and so many cyclists speeding around on road bikes that it can be dangerous. Still, since a Shilin-based rider took me up Fengguizui last summer, I've been hooked on the Xiwan Rd. ( 汐萬) that connects Waishuangxi with Wanli.

The problem with just riding up to Fengguizui is that it is too short. But if you ride over to Wanli, you are stuck on a hot, unpleasant coastal highway with a long ride to Danshui or a shorter one to Keelung. Neither of these are very exciting.

Today we tried to ride from Daping (大坪) in Wanli over to Kuangshan (礦山) in Jinshan. The idea was to rejoin the Yangjin Highway (楊金) and then take the Balaka Access Road down to Danshui from Zhuzihu.

We succeeded but may not repeat this route for some time. While the first section off the Daping Access Rd. is a very rideable single track, it later became steep and the bikes had to be carried for about 30 minutes. More skilled offroad riders will be able to ride more of this road, especially if they went in the opposite direction from Kuangshan to Wanli. The problem with doing it in reverse though would be the steep climb up the unpaved and rocky Kuangshan Access Rd. The three-way fork in the trail is on a ridge. Somehow we came out not in the parking lot but rather above the patch of geothermal activity. This forced us to descend down a steep trail and then pick our way through the geothermal activity. This Chinese-language site give s full account with some pictures--scroll down to the post by mosaico.

We left Shiling station around 7:30AM and were in Danshui by 4pm. We rode down to Danshui from Zhuzihu on the Balaka Access Road. This is a beautiful descent from around 1000 meters and has stunnning views of the ocean and the mountains. It's definitely the nicest downhill in the Taipei area.

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