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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Biking Taiwan's East Coast: The Glory of Green

Michael Turton over at The View From Taiwan has a wonderful write-up and pictorial spread on his adventures riding Taiwan's East Coast and Green island. It is obvious why the area is ranked the number 2 area in the world for cycle tourism.

Here is one little excerpt on the routes they took and especially on some of the trouble that occurs where the bike meets train. In Taiwan the left and right hands of the civil service are merely the anonymous sperm donors to the same policy.

The next morning, the dawn of a cool, overcast day, we cruised the 193 back to Hualien city, and picked up the 1:02 express back to Fengyuan. It turns out that 193 is much easier and faster done from the south -- I had underestimated the extent to which it is one long uphill slog from Hualien. It's a lovely road, one of the best on the island, never trafficked, and the views over the rift valley are incredible. Highly recommended.

The train proved to be another encounter with the TRA's bike train crapshoot. We bought the tix for the 1:00 pm express in Taitung the day before. There we were informed there were no bike places for our bikes and we would have to bag them --- even though it was a designated bike train with the special car for bike storage without needing to disassemble them and on which bikes could travel for free with a ticket for car 12. The spaces for the bikes were all taken, we were told.

The reality was that, as usual, the TRA staffer was wrong about the policy. In fact, we were able to pay the baggage fee and bring the bikes on the same train as luggage in the same compartment as the free bikes with the bike tickets. In fact, there were no such bikes, for the entire trip ours were the only bikes on the train -- meaning we could have had one of the four free bike spaces. The computer system associates the bikes with a seat in car 12, the car with the luggage facility, meaning that if the seats in car 12 are sold out, then there are no free bike spaces (that's right, bikes do not have priority in that arrangement -- it is impossible to get a free bike shipment if you have to sit in another car, as we did). Someone needs to give the brains of TRA planners are thorough scrubbing. There was absolutely no reason we couldn't have been treated as a free bike shipment and no reason not to reserve seats for cyclists in car 12, since it is a designated bike train. Argh!
Some really lovely photos in this set: HERE
*photos courtesy of Michael Turton

Bike Train


People laughed at me 4 years ago when I was zipping along roadways with a disc equipped drop bar bicycle. Now, Colnago releases a C-59 Disc roadbike. Vindication is mine!