The Wilds of Taiping:
This route is one of my favorite short routes around Taichung. It includes a whole variety of road types. There are sustained climbs, soaring flats, tight descents into deep valleys, ridge-top cruises and urban work. Best of all it is just outside the city. Within a short period of time you can suddenly be among hilly farms and flowing streams. Best of all, the whole ride can be done in a couple/three hours depending upon your fitness.
Tight Farm Roads
From Taichung City's Bei tun area take Dong Shan Rd. all the way out to Da Keng and follow the Local Highway 129 all the way up the "death spiral" to Hsin She. The climb up to Hsin She can be rough. Not only is it a 250 meter (820ft.) climb for a warm up, but sometimes traffic can be unforgiving. Holiday makers and large trucks both love this road up to Hsin She. The best thing is to just stay close to the shoulder and ride predictably. The most annoying part is when you are in a good gear hammering up the hill and some jerk waits, waits, waits at a side street... and then pulls out in front of you.
In The Valley
From the top of Hsin She you can go right and it takes you directly to the road down to Taiping (see map). I prefer going through Hsin She, which was once part of the satellite villages of the Anli Pazih (Pazeh) group of plains indigenes. From Hsin She proper you can take a right and gain speed on the flat, straight road that passes Hakka style farms and a helicopter base. When you get to a little crossroads in a mushroom growing town... stay right.
I just don't like this climb
The road snakes through some pretty farms and up a sustained grade that, while not steep, can be a real pain in the ass. I can't explain it. As you crest the hill you will see a steep valley below.
The descent plummets down a set of switchbacks. Manage your speed through the descent as there is one particular stretch of concrete that feels like it was laid by monkeys. It will rattle your eyeballs out. Once this patch is over the road narrows and I always get the feeling like a "Battle Star Galactica Colonial Viper launching". It's just great!
Michael T. Tames the Hill on The Red Bomber
You finally empty out into a wide, empty road. You can get some speed through here to get past the eco-tourism disaster of a sprawling "hostel".
Japanese Era Agriculture Station
Eventually, you will get to a fork in the road. Take the high road. It is is a good climb with some steep section, but it leads to a ridge top that is just a rewarding ride to take a little fast.
The Wrong Road
If you choose to go straight there is another hill climb out to Taiyuan Rd. The main road leads to a dead end, as I discovered.
In Deep Doo Doo
I thought maybe I could shoulder the bike to the other side. I ended up knee deep in mud with visions of making the evening news as another "stupid foreigner" story.
You finally keep taking rights until you plop down onto the Local Highway 136 that goes to either the Taichung or Puli sides of the mountain.
This route is great if you are stretched for time or if you are a beginning cyclist looking for a way to improve your skills outside the city. The road had been cleaned up a bit since I took these pictures, so it is a bit smoother for road tires.