Tuesday, April 8, 2014
This weekend we took the show on the road and drove down to Meinong, a small farming community in Kaohsiung County. With the Southern Cross-Island Highway open after years of closure due to Typhoon damage, the Meinong area was ripe for riding. I hadn't been in the area for several years, so I was due.
Michael and I parked on the outskirts of Meinong and headed up the Kaohsiung Route 181to connect to the Highway 20. The area is a beautiful basin that once grew tobacco and rice. In the late 1990's Meinong served as the location for one of the civic protests that would become a model for others to emulate as local residents successfully blocked a massive dam project to preserve the character of the town and its environment. Now Meinong is regularly cited for its work on sustainable infrastructure.
The Route 181 heads directly into a mountain and down into the river valley on the other side where it meets up with the Highway 21.
The route is relatively flat and was a bit busier than I expected. The haze from China made the scenery a bit less thrilling than I think it might be otherwise.
The road dips and ducks through bamboo covered hills all the way to Jiaxian township. This is a village that was devastated in 2010 by Typhoon Morakot. It was nice to see how the village of former Siraya people has recovered.
From Jiaxian we took the Highway 20 over the hills to Liugui. This is a marvelous little road that is never too painful to climb, yet offers the illusion of ascending much higher peaks.
We connected to the Highway 27 to Liugui where we had lunch.
The Highway 27 splits and the southern route is a cycling dream. There is little traffic, long stretches of scenery. and the view of the river, which looks like it leapt out of an Orientalist's wet dream.
A spine of towering peaks sit like stonehenge blocks above the river.
This was the reason I really wanted to bike this route. It is a fabulous display of Taiwan's diverse topography. Then, all too soon, the ride was over and we were back in Meinong to enjoy a post-ride ice cream bar before a freeway trip home where Michael was subjected to two hours of aural insult to the sound of my musical tastes.
A nice day of just under 90k. This is a good route for riders who are still building up to the harder rides or recovering from an injury.