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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Birthday Bicycling: Sanyi and Back

Fishing man

Saturday was not just election day for the special municipalities, but it was also my 36th birthday; a number that signifies my dreams of becoming a rock star or elite cyclist are to come to naught. Oh well... I can live with that if some of my weekends can be this fulfilling.

Don't mind those men in the upper left. They're not KMT gangsters

We started out by riding out to Daya Township so my wife could work her way past the KMT/Gangster thugs and cast her vote. A small group of thugs made their presence known to all and openly voiced their preferred support for the KMT candidates. No intimidation what-so-ever. Luckily, most people ignored the heavies and voted their conscience... I hope. DPP came out strong in Taichung County (Now New Taichung).

Daya's fabulous bike trail (right)

We left the polling place and made our way into downtown Daya for some local eats for breakfast. Daya provides a lovely example of when bike lanes go wrong.

Daya market

Like a lot of old townships, the center of town focuses on the temple. This is where we would find one of those gritty, local breakfast dives.

A Dive... even by Taiwan's Standards

The structure is no more than sheet metal, concrete, aluminum and those ubiquitous red-plastic stools that seem to come out of the save vat that everything else at the 99-dollar store comes from.

Joyce Enjoys Breakfast

Breakfast was the local favorite of fried noodles and chicken intestine soup. The breakfast of champions.


When we finished our breakfast we headed down the Highway 10 toward the city of Feng Yuan. There were lots of people out biking and it brought a smile to my face to see so many kids issuing their declaration of personal independence from the seat of a bicycle.

Low Hanging Fruit

Before arriving in Feng Yuan, we stopped by the Anli cemetery for Plains Aborigines--the subject of a future post.

Historic Anli Graves

Uncle Ron


We were soon in Feng Yuan, where we could hit the Highway 13 to Hou li, just at the border between Taichung and Miaoli counties. The Highway 13 is not pretty, not friendly, and not easy. What it is, is direct. It goes out toward Sanyi without having to climb any hills. My wife was looking for 100k on the day and was hoping to conserve her energy.

Hou-Feng Bike Trail

We eventually hooked up with the Hou-Feng bike trail at Xing ke rd. and after riding it for a while my wife decided she felt safer and would have better luck out on the main road.

Dangerous Cross Traffic

On weekends the bike trail is just too dangerous. Weaving novice riders on poorly fit bikes and no helmets make the trail a recipe for an injury. Some parts of the trail are just asking for hurt.

Out of Houli

We finally descended into the river valley between Houli and Sanyi.

Sanyi Viaduct

The river valley offers a brief respite of flats before the great hill climb up the Highway 13's intimidating viaduct that crests in Sanyi Township.

Climbing Higher

My wife found her pace and spun up to the 1200ft. crest non-stop. I was seriously impressed with her effort and determination. The climb is not easy by any measure.

Happy Rider

Joyce was very happy to be at the top and kept spinning until we could find a place to stop for lunch. Eventually we had a lunchbox and rest in Sanyi, where I pitched the idea of going home through the foothills of the interior.

Family Cycling Fun

Joyce in Sanyi

The scenery was amazing. We rolled through the farms in the little Hakka-style hamlets that dot Sanyi. I was a little worried for Joyce as we encountered several formidable hills... as steep as 12%-15% grade. She kept at it and only stopped once for a breather.

Joyce Learns To Love The Hill

After topping on especially nasty hill, we dropped into a facsimile of a Japanese colonial era train town at the location of the old Sanyi Train Station.

Bizarro World

It was a madhouse... A MADHOUSE!!!

There were meandering tourists all over the roads and it was all we could do not to hit them.. if only for the fear of damaging the bikes.

Hoiday Makers

Probably the roughest part of riding the Miaoli Local 49 rd. was the weekend traffic. Drivers just don't know how to handle themselves around cyclists and use the same tactics they use with scooters. This put Joyce a little on edge in what should have been an enjoyable ride through fun little rollers. I alway say, "Pick a line and don't move. They don't want to hit you... and if they do hit you it is because they want to and would have hit you anyways."

Bridge Pic

We followed the Miaoli #49 out to the Longteng Broken Bridge, a trestle built by the Japanese and later felled by a massive earthquake. The site has become a popular tourist destination for romantics.

Interesting Area

At the base of the hill near the bridge we emptied back into the river valley in a village where I made a few new discoveries for a later post. It was a gorgeous afternoon.

Burning Man

The valley was covered in a light haze from the local farmers burning off their rice fields before winter. And I wonder why I get asthma attacks.

Smoking Allowed

Taking A Rest

We finally made out way back to the Houli side of the river where a group of Giant riders arrived after taking a train in from Changhua and diddling around Sanyi. I could tell they were not regular cyclists as they were not immediately friendly. They sort of... ignored us at the 7-11 as we stood by our bikes drinking Fin despite the eye contact and greetings.

A GIANT Group of Riders

We then doubled back to Daya to check the election returns. I wanted five presents for my birthday, but I only got two.

We wended the day with 92km and 2752ft of elevation gain, so my wife was a little short of her goal, but not by much.

I love riding with her and posting her rides because she really embodies the spirit of cycling. She just jumps in and has a good time with plenty of enthusiasm. Even when things get rough, in retrospect it is always positive. I hope her rides encourage more people to get over their fears and become beginners.

It really made for a great birthday gift and a great prep day for my Sunday ride...


  1. Happy birthday, Andrew.

    I rode through Sanyi Viaduct last month with strong seasonal wind and was getting only 4 km/hr. I hope your ride was much smoother.

  2. Thanks!

    The wind wasn't so bad. I wish I could be using the wind on a ride to Kenting.

  3. Great shots! JOYCE IS AWESOME!

    Happy birthday, again.

  4. Thanks! Joyce was totally impressive.