For the Chinese New Year holiday I set off to cycle from Yilan on Taiwan’s east coast all the way down to Kenting, the very southernmost point of Taiwan. I did this with my good friend Jeff, who is a much stronger cyclist than I am and – as opposed to myself – loves mountains. Taiwan’s coastline is rather mountainous, especially for a flatlander (Münster, Germany – home sweet home) like me. I ended up renting a bike from a Taipei Specialized store. What’s great about that is that not only the bike I got was an Allez Roadbike that did an ace job for me, but also that the rental investment was a store credit that I later on ended up trading in for a Garmin 800. Not a bad deal all in all.
We took a bus out from Taipei to Yilan to skip the way out of the city. It’s a good hour on the bus and you’re right on the coast and all you need to do is head south. The first night we slept outside in hammocks, but after I had a near freeze to death experience I vetoed all further camping endeavors and insisted on roofed nights.
Day 1 took us from Yilan to Hualian and after a day of battling traffic both uphill and downhill (the holiday season is busy. And busy is an understatement) I thought the hardest mountains were behind me, little did I know. Despite all the traffic the coastline was absolutely stunning and my mantra from day one on was “Every mountain has a peak”.. I would repeat that in the rhythm of my cadence.
Day 2 then continued down to Chenggong, once again a bit mountainous, but also long stretches of coast.
Day 3 brought on the rain. We got up early to see the sun rise, but there was nothing to see except for low clouds and shortly after it would start to drizzle. It would prove to be a rather rough day. Our butts hurt, we were tired, and we had to stop a few times. During one stop Jeff left his glasses so he had to detour (a traffic policeman kindly gave him a ride on his scooter while I napped on the roadside) and finally we ended up taking long breaks and having a beer at around three to revitalize. We still ended up doing around 120km that day all the way to Dawu, but it was hard. We did reward ourselves with amazing seafood at night, which did make up for being wet and tired all day long.
Day four then was going to be the best one yet. Kenting was the goal and even though we didn’t manage to get going very early we had a long day. Day one’s mountains were outdone by far and these were the steepest one we had to conquer. The whole ride was stunning that day. The further we ventured south, the more tropical the roadside became. We finally left the big roads and traffic behind and saw monkey’s playing in the woods, had some amazing downhill runs and finally hit the coast, where strong winds blew but also the sun came out. Finally. I was in amazing spirits and ready to cycle for ever. That is until I got hungry and tired, which was shortly before sunset, right on time with the return of rain. We ended up making it safely into Kenting, after a short stop at the Southernmost Point of Taiwan. The evening was filled with streetfoods and beers and more food and more beers.
The next day we caught the bus to Kaohsiung and from there we then took the high speed train back to Taipei, where I had another spare day before returning home to Shanghai.
It was fabulous and I can highly recommend the ride. For the full album, proceed!