Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bike trip - Day 1

To complete my experience here in Taiwan, I needed to get out and see the island. I decided to accomplish this by riding across the east coast. Luckily, I was also able to enlist one of my lab mates, Sergio, to come along with me so I'd have company.

The proposed path for day 1 had us leaving Taipei and riding to Yilan across some very tall mountains. The basic route is below.

We started off at 7:00 in the morning. Our goal was to conquer the first wave of mountains before it got "too hot". Of course, when we left the temperature was already climbing into the mid 80's (F). Here we are right before our trip.

And here are our bikes. We were unable to reserve road bikes but these hybrids worked fairly nicely.
We rode pretty hard for about an hour or so before taking a quick photo break. I was also fogging up the lenses on my sunglasses with my breath (it was over 90 by then), so I figured this was a good time to let our bodies cool down a little.

 We reached the top by about 9:30

It's hard to tell from the pictures but this is at the top of a ~600 meter tall mountain. Of course, there was a park dedicated to tea at the top of the mountain.
We then dropped about 400 meters or so to get to the town of Pinglin and make our first water stop. To help bikers out, Taiwan has each police station provide water for bicyclists (remember, you're not supposed to drink the water out of the tap here). They are also supposed to have a pump and basic bike repair tools; but I never checked.


One of their bridges was lined with these tea pot statues.

We road through Pinglin and continued on to the next mountain. It was one heck of a climb into the wind...and the temperatures were definitely soaring by then. Here Sergio is making it to the top

This was our last obstacle before we reached the east coast. The view was amazing. The mountains dropped off and we were left with about a mile of completely flat land between us and the sea.

The entire morning we continued to see a group of bikers that were doing the same thing. So, finally at the peak, they asked us if we'd like to join them for lunch. We agreed and had one heck of an amazing meal. Here we all are together

Every one I talked to suggested that the road between Suao and Xincheng is narrow and dangerous, so we took a train.

 And then rode a few miles in the dark to get to our hostel for the evening. And so ends day 1 of our trip...funny, it felt a lot longer when we were actually riding.

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