Well it has been a long ride. Five countries later we are having to admit that we are getting tired and a little homesick. After much debate this morning it was decided that we would catch a train to Taroko National Park rather than spend the next two days cycling there. We plan on camping in the national park for two nights and enjoying the wild hot springs. From there it is recommended that you train around the coast north due to the narrow dangerous highway. We have decided we will take this advice and catch the train to Taipei. We are planning on having a hotel holiday in Taipei for a little while to rest our weary bodies.
Easy ride today. Downhill most of the way with a strong tailwind and a relatively short distance to cover. At one point we were going so fast and enjoying ourselves we missed a turn off. We realised how good we had it when we had to turn around and head back up into a headwind.
We had one scary incident. Paddy and I were heading down a hill going over 30 kms per hour when the rear tyre blew out. We fishtailed a little, but I was able to bring the bike safely to a stop. Glad it didn’t happen when we were going really fast because it was hard enough to control at the speed we were doing. Anyhow, with our combined experience and having a spare tyre and tube, we were back on the road in no time.
We were able to keep of the main roads most of the day and even rode on some amazing dedicated bike paths not in GoogleMaps. The scenery is breathtaking. Below are a few shots of our progress.
The last few days Robert has been really keen to go for a swim in a river, but the conditions have not been right. Either the river has been too shallow or inaccessible. Today, near the end of the ride we came across a good location where some local fishermen had just pulled up. They proceeded to cross the river with nets, goggles and a gigi, so we followed. Robert and Patrick impressed the fishermen with their swimming ability against a strong current. The boys ended up having more fun in the mud than anything else.
Check out my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/934072151/
Yesterday we stayed at a campground and we noticed a waterfall in the mountains. There was a road in the right direction but in the end we had to rock hop to get to the top. It got too late so we had to turn back. We got back early so we had time to explore. There was a bridge over the river, so we decided to go up the path. It just went up and up and up until we really ran out of time.
Speeding down an open road, the last thing you want is a blowout. Luckily this time it was Allister’s bike and he handled it well. And before you ask, yes I am getting in touch with Schwalbe, Marathon plus should last 10000km + and as you can see the wall of the tire has failed both times.
Allister and I worked well together to get the tire changed quickly, luckily we still had the spare tire from my blowout. Allister was very diplomatic when I was removing the tire by saying “let me know when you have had enough and I will do it for you.” Needless to say I did it without “having enough”.
The boys had some fun yesterday afternoon by dinking on the back rack of Allister’s bike for a while and today the temptation of swimming in the river was too great. The locals were concerned because nobody swims in the river.
After going up hundreds of Hills we finally arrived at our destination. At first they offered us a very expensive room.
But then we found the perfect one and it came with a deal. A free hot springs. They were awesome there were four different types of hot spings a very very cold pool a hot one a boiling one and a nice one.
The nice one “was what I felt was the perfect temperature” but bab thought the boiling one was the best they were awesome.
Full on day and the boys are still up playing BeyBlades. 60kms of cycling with 600m of climbing and that doesn’t count the side trips down into river gorges, swimming at waterfalls or hikes up mountains.
The cycling day started with a 20kms bike path that ran along the river. The river is to the right of the die in the below picture.
Most of the time the bike path is on top of the dIke.
We decided to investigate the river bed.
And hop in the water.
It was like the first day cycling in Taiwan. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. The scenery was so special and made all the more spectacular by the storm clouds.
There is a waterfall close to our camp ground (our first official campsite, but we are the only campers), so the boys and I decided to check it out.
We went for a swim in a rock pool below the waterfall to cool down after a 3km climb.
This is as close as we got to the waterfall. We tried rock hopping, but it was slow going and we were running out of daylight.
There were wooden stairs, but they had fallen into disrepair and had wood rot.
There was a trail on the other side of the waterfall, but after going up 500m it still wasn’t getting any closer, so we gave up due to the lack of light and headed back down the hill.
Check out my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/932886006/
We reluctantly left our B and B this morning. The hot springs were so nice on our tired muscles but we soon forgot about the springs as we rode further into the rift valley. We were literally surrounded by stunning mountains. A thunderstorm was threatening but likely it swept around us all day and we only got a little wet.
The boys decided to explore the river which, as you can see, is very low at the moment. The water was lukewarm due to so many hot springs draining into it. As Taiwan is on a fault line there are over 150 hot springs running the full length of the Island.
As you can see, we are not completely crazy, we did get Robert to keep his helmet on in the fast flowing water.
The scenery was just breathtaking at times today. We stopped for a lot of photos that just do not do the beauty of this place justice.
We are staying in our first ‘paid for’ camp site tonight. We have showers, filtered water, an undercover camp site and mountains for $400 NTD ($15 AUD). In the photo you can see the threatening clouds and understand why we chose an undercover site.
Robert is also getting very good at Diablo or cheling, as it is called here. He has dreams of busking in Denmark.
We also picked up a hitch hiker today. Pikachu needed a lift to the closest 7eleven. The roads were so quiet, Robert rode as captain for a while.
We have made it to the spectacular East Rift Valley. The train got in about 9pm to Taitung, but there is a big park just west of the train station, so even though it was dark we decided to set up camp. The boys were a little freaked out at first, but once we found a good spot to pitch the tent they settled down quickly for a good nights sleep.
The East Rift Valley has been created by the joining of two tectonic plates. A massive river runs between two mountain ranges. We thought we maybe able to ride in the valley, but the sides are very steep cliffs so the only reliable roads go up to the ridge. So we started the day with a steep climb, as you can see below.
Someone on Facebook recommended a B&B that has its own hot spring. It wasn’t cheap to stay, but after seeing the hot spring pools we were all convinced to stay. After a very good dinner in Luye we came home for a very relaxing hot spring bath. The place is very popular with the locals who make good use of the four pools, each at a different temperature.
Check out my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/931740912/
Only a short cycle today, to the next town. We were suppose to be following the river in the rift valley but this section of the valley has a cliff adjacent to the river. This gave us only two options. Walk the bikes along the river bed or cycle up to the top of the cliff. None of us liked the idea of walking the river bed as the river stones were huge, so up the cliff it was.
Half way up we came across a section of road that has started to fall down the cliff. Taiwan is on a fault line and earthquakes are common. Robert liked the idea of waiting for it to fall into the river below but we had to keep on going.
We also had a laugh at the sign in the next photo. We imagined the Australian translation to the chinese symbols is “bloody steep mate”.
We arrived at LuYe township and decided to stay at a bed and breakfast recommended to me by a Taiwanese guy on facebook. The BandB is on a bicarbonate hot spring. Just fantastic. We had a dip when we arrived and then jump back in after dinner. Floating on my back in the hot water watching the clouds flow past the moon was so relaxing. I wish we had hot springs in back home.
When we arrived in Kaohsiung we were all feeling pretty tired, except Allister. Rather than one rest day we booked three night so that we could have two days off.
We had a fun time exploring the city.
After looking at the map it was decided that we would jump on a train and head to the East Coast so that we could make the most of the Rift Valley. The train trip was great. The last carriage is for cargo and gets filled up with bikes. In all the days of cycling the west coast we did not see another cycling tourist. We have worked out that they are all on the East Coast. Lots of people catch the train with their bike and then ride the beautiful coast.
The train conductor was lovely and had a great time with Robert.