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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Wheeled Touring: One Weekend In The Life Of Taiwanese Cycling

I need to start this post off with the admission that I did not ride this weekend. I actually took a couple days off and took some friends on a tour of Taiwan from tip to tip.

Despite being off the bike, I still took a little time to see what everyone else was doing on bikes and biked vicariously through everyone else.

Lots of good riding going on.

We started out in the misty hills of Lugu and Sanlinxi to check out some of the farms where we source our teas.

Despite being 5000ft up a mountain, we ran into a criss-cross of mountain roads that meander through the tea fields and tea shops.

Sure enough, we ran into a group of riders who were busy touring the area and taking in the sights.

These riders were sorely mistaken and advised us to go out to the tourist village in Hsitou to get the better tea... without realizing we were visiting with Lugu's top prize winner for the best Dongding Oolong.

The next day we took the show on the road and visited the Hengchun Peninsula and Kenting.

The Shan-hai fishing port is a wonderful biking destination with a gritty old restaurant that serves up the choicest seafood.

It is nothing fancy, but the food is amazing and totally worth the trip.

We then took little Maya to Taiwan's world class aquarium near the Yoho Bike Hotel. I have never seen an aquarium so vast and spectacular it is a real treat. You won't be disappointed.

It rained for a day or so, but that didn't deter Taiwan's brave cyclists from hitting the roads of Kenting to soak in the scenery.

The touring around Ouluanpi Point is easy on bikes. There are several rental shops with mainly cruisers. I did see one crash as a rider failed to negotiate a straightaway and hit the deck.

One downer for the weekend were all the Chinese tourists they try to pack into ever "spot" on Taiwan, which turns any scenic spot into an instant ashtray.

Out toward Jialeshui we caught a surfer using his two wheels to drag his board out to hit the waves.

We even caught a bike club out enjoying to Manzhou valley.

The last leg of our weekend travels took us to Tamshui on Taiwan's northern coast.

There were hundreds of riders out trying in vain to negotiate the flocks of tourists milling around cheap game centers and street food vendors.

The streets around Tamshui are far too packed to really enjoy cycling, but that didn't seem to stop anyone form trying.

We then took a short boat ride to Bali across the Tamshui River.

Sure enough the bike rentals were available offering every size and shape of bicycle for an afternoon of dodging Chinese tourists.

The biggest treat was the trip up to the Red Hair Fort, where the Spanish and Dutch manned a fort, which later became the British Consul and Trade Office.

Riders zipped along on the streets below.

So nice to see so many people taking to bikes for their leisure time.