Alishan

Alishan, April 12 - 13, 2010. Click pic for album

Taroko to Kending

Taroko Gorge to Kending, Feb 14 - 19, 2010.

Northern Cross Island Highway

Northern Cross Island Highway, May 19 - 21, 2008. Click pic for album
26th November, 2012

Taipei city bike rentals (sticky)

For anyone who wants to rent a bike in Taipei, the features section of Taiwan’s best English-language newspaper, the Taipei Times, ran an article on the Taipei City Government’s bike rental system in today’s edition, Share and share a bike.

The program, which is a joint project between the city government and Giant, provides cheap rentals, at NT$10 per 30 minutes, for city bikes. The website gives a good explanation of how the system works and also has a map showing all the rental stations in the city, at Youbike.

Two Youbike apps for Android

4th August, 2013

Youbike apps

Here are a couple of Android apps that provide info on the Youbike rentals in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Bikefriend

      is in English and provides a map with rental sites in Taipei and Kaohsiung that includes info on number of bikes available for rent as well as the number of empty slots if you want to return your bike.

Bikerker

      is in Chinese, but offers more functions than Bikefriend, including a list of rental stations, a map with rental stations, and the option to get directions to a station and a Google map street view of the station. Bikerker only offers info about Taipei Youbike.
      [Edit 130807: it was pointed out to me in the comments that this app uses both Chinese and English on English (any non-Chinese?) Android systems. Station names and addresses are in Chinese, but they can of course be found using the map in the application. The rest will be in English.]

 

I haven’t used these apps, more than downloading them and checking what functions they offer, and I have no connection to their developers, but they both seem to provide good functionality. I also haven’t checked to see if they exist for the iOS system.

19th June, 2013

Ride maps

I finally got around to doing something about all those maps of the different rides I wanted to put up on the site. I’ve only put up day-trips around Taipei, 10 of them so far, but now that I finally sat down and figured out a simple way of doing it, it won’t take to long to also post maps of the rides we’ve done outside Taipei as well. All I need is a day without work πŸ™‚

The gpx file, or in some cases the kml file, can be downloaded by clicking the Download link to the bottom right below the map so you can upload it to your own gps device if you so wish. Click the icon in the top right corner to expand the map, and click it again to come back to the page. The maps are available in the Maps menu at the top of the page or by clicking here.

17th February, 2013

East Rift Valley

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D at the first scenic spot in Taroko

We spent the last three days on our bicycles down in Taroko Gorge and the northern part of the East Rift Valley. We had wanted to go all the way down to Taidong, but when Tim made the arrangements before the Lunar New Year, train tickets from Taidong back to Taipei were not available. Instead, he bought tickets to Xincheng (ζ–°εŸŽ) and back to Taipei from Hualian.

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I take this same photo every time I go to Taroko

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I can never get enough of these views. Always takes me a long time to get to Tianxiang because I stop over and over again to take in the views

As always,the first thing we did was to take the bike bags to the nearast 7-11 and send them off to another 7-11 close to the end stop, the Hualian railway station, since that would cut a couple of kilos off the weight for the next three days. The longer you stay in Taiwan, the more you come to understand that 7-11 is essential to a comfortable life.

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Another standard photograph…

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… and another one

That still gave us the always pleasant ride up Taroko Gorge to Tianxiang (倩η₯₯) and an afternoon excursion into the Baiyang Trail (η™½ζ₯Šζ­₯道). As always, we spent the night at the hostel belonging to the Catholic church there, and as always, the beds were hard, hard, hard.

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At the end of the Baiyang Trail

The second day we were planning on doing county road 193 down to Ruisui (η‘žη©—) for a hot spring bath at the end of a 130km ride. The day started fine but when we stopped at the 7-11 at the entrance to Taroko for breakfast, it started raining, and it didn’t let up for the rest of the day. We decided to ignore the 193 for the day and head down the 9 to get to Ruisui as soon as possible. Hopefully, the weather would be better on the third day.

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Rolling back down Taroko Gorge toward Ruisui and a long day of cold and wet rain

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But that just made the soak in the hot springs so much better, so we won anyway

And it was. A mostly overcast day and around 20-22 degrees C made for an almost perfect ride along the 193 back into Hualian. Doing the reservations before the holiday, it had only been possible to get us back too Taipei on the new Puyuma train at 10pm. We rode into town at 3pm, and didn’t really feel like spending the rest of the day in Hualian, so D went to see if there had been any cancellations so we could get tickets on an earlier train, and by 4pm, we were on the train back to Taipei.

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I’ve had worse breakfast views

Everything went smoothly, apart from a couple of flats, of course on the back wheel, once for D and once for Peter. Always the back wheel. I also had a back flat, but that was less than a kilometer from the train station in Hualian, so I pumped it up and that was enough to take me to the station.

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A few kilometers before we reached Guangfu on the 193

We had smaller panniers on our bikes, but they aren’t water proof which is a pain when it rains. It was also a bit big for a three day ride, because when I’ve got space, I tend to stuff things in there. The only thing I didn’t pack this time was my camera. All these photos are taken with the (crappy) camera in my HTC phone. For the next 2-3 day ride, I’m getting a smaller bag that I can put on the detachable rack we have, just big enough to hold a change of clothes and some energy boosting snacks.

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The reason you should be careful in Taroko Gorge (and on other mountain roads, of course). Every black spot is a hole in the road caused by falling rocks and filled in with new asphalt. You don’t want one of those on your head.
Facts Here is the ride on my Garmin page, and here it is on the Strava site. Although the 193 never goes above 260m above sea level between Ruisui and Hualian, the elevation gain keeps accumulating, especially if you go into Taroko as well. In total, we climbed a total of 2.6km over the three days. The whole ride was 225km. If you check out these pages, I can assure you that I didn’t go over 130km/hr. I broke through 50 a couple of times, but that was it. Similarly, I can’t reach a heart rate of 230 no matter how hard I try (I’ve worked myself up to 180 a couple of times, and that’s as fast as my heart will beat. Except for when I look at D, of course). The GPS must have been overworked or something.
11th February, 2013

A coffee in Danshui

A view from the Dazhi bridge

Another ride today, up to Danshui for lunch and a cup of coffee. The Central Weather Bureau definitely got the New Year forecast wrong for Taipei. No rain, but blue skies and a light breeze. Looking around, however, the skies were grey in the west and south, and even in the east, ie, in the mountains surrounding the Taipei Basin. Heard from a friend in Xizhi that it’s been raining every day there for the last few days.

Halfway between Taipei and Danshui. A view toward Guandu

Now we’re just hoping that we’ll be able to avoid the rain Thu-Sat as well, since it turns out we will be able to go on that three-day bike ride in the East Rift Valley after all. And we’re going on the brand new tilting Puyuma Express which was only launched on Feb 6. Better hold on to my coffee, I read somewhere that every thing fell off the tables as the train tilted in the bends.

The best Starbucks location in Taipei

You burn off a lot of calories on the bike

Below Grand Hotel
Facts Here is the ride on my Garmin page
10th February, 2013

New Year’s Day ride

We had too much to eat last night, New Year’s Eve, so we decided to go take a spin around Taipei to shake it all down. Also Thor ignored the Central Weather Bureau, left Sleipner in the stable and refused to lift Mjolner, so there was no rain and thunder and lightning despite the CWB’s promise of 7 days of rain and crappy weather, another reason to take a bicycle ride. The river park ride from Minsheng and along the Keelung and Tamsui rivers down to Gongguan is always a nice ride, and, at 45km, just enough for New Years Day.

Neihu from the river park. The tall building with the cupola on top (can only see half of it) is the Liberty Times building, where some of my co-workers are hard at work putting out the shortened New Year’s version of the Taipei Times while I’m out enjoying a nice bike ride with D

And here she is, confidently looking forward to future bicycle conquests

When we got to the new Shezi Bridge (瀾子橋) we realized that they’re finally done, although it hasn’t been opened for traffic yet. For us cyclists, it means that you just follow the road to get up on the road on the levee that takes you around the Shezi peninsula instead of having to walk the bike up two sets of stairs as you had to before.

Just past the entry on to the levee road, still along the Keelung River just before it splits from the Tamsui River. The view is of Guandu

When we came home, the friend who was going to take care of the dogs during our planned 3-day ride with friends in the east rift valley Thu-Sat called and said that she probably would not be able to help after all. Mom’s sick. A good reason, of course, but it means that we will probably have to cancel πŸ™ Or at least me, so D can go, since we’ve already paid our friend who did the arrangements.

A bit further down along the Tamsui River with a view down toward Sanchong

A view down toward Gongguan to the right, and the Mitsukoshi Building at the Taipei Railway station
Facts Here is a map on my Garmin page.This is a really nice ride. In the weeks, there aren’t many people in the park, and the roads are mostly wide and smooth, so it makes for a great exercise round since you can race against the clock without being afraid of running into a lot of people.
19th January, 2013

More Armstrong

So, by his own admission, Armstrong did it. He wasn’t such a legendary cyclist after all. Since he did dope, he must also be compared to all the other big cyclists of the past who may well have been doped as well, and then he falls far behind, basically a one trick pony specializing in the TdF.

Eddy Merkcx, for example, won the TdF five times (four of those consecutively), the Giro d’Italia five times and the Vuelta d’Espana once, and he’s not the only one to have won all three. Hinault, Contador and three others also did, Hinault winning all of them more than once, including five TdF, three Giros, two Vueltas and a TdF/Vuelta and a TdF/Giro double in the same year. Several other cyclists have won two of the three. Here is some more data including some cyclists that should be ranked ahead of Armstrong.

6th January, 2013

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong may be considering to admit to doping “because he wants to persuade antidoping officials to restore his eligibility so he can resume his athletic career.”

I don’t get it. Admitting to having used drugs after having denied it vehemently for a decade or more would increase his credibility and convince officials that he wouldn’t do it again?

21st November, 2012

Dunhua bike lane, RIP?

Taking the doggies for a walk last week, I realized that the Taipei city government finally is doing something about that completely useless, wasteful bike lane going up and down Dunhua. To the tune of NT$100 million, it was useless from day one, which, of course, was just ahead of the 2010 mayoral election (why else would they build it?). Cars ignored it and parked on it and police ignored both it and the cars parked on it. It in fact made riding a bike even more dangerous since it provided a false feeling of safety.

What they did was dig up one whole lane and pour concrete into it, since everyone knows that bike lanes should be made of concrete (more likely, someone in the city government had a cousin in the cement industry). Then they painted the concrete green to make it really slippery when wet, and then, to make things even worse, all the lines and other signage was made in raised concrete rather than painted on the road surface, thus making for a bumpy ride. I always ride in the road, next to the lane. When Su Tseng-chang ran against Hau Lung-bin in the mayoral election, he promised that the first thing he would do if elected would be to erase the useless bike lane.

The failure was immediate and before long, Hau announced that the bike lane would only be a bike lane on weekends. As if that made any difference. Now they have scraped all paint and signage off completely, so it’s just a stretch of raw grey concrete. Haven’t seen any news about what’s going on, so I don’t know if the government will try to improve the bike lane, or if they are going to spend even more money on getting rid of it, maybe digging up the concrete and replacing it with asphalt again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The bike lane in its current state, at the Civic Blvd intersection

Here are a few previos rants about the debacle: Kerb your enthusiasm, Dunhua bicycle lane revisited and Bike paths revisited, again.

7th November, 2012

The Roaring Silence

Bitan

A view of Bitan

No cars, no buses, no scooters, no trucks, no horn-honking, no loudspeakers selling aluminum net doors, no sirens. But it’s not quiet. Instead, there’s a roaring silence. There are birds singing, insects humming, the sound of mountain streams, the breeze going through the trees, your own heartbeat (topped 176 yesterday) and your own (very heavy) breathing.

A break

Taking a break in Bitan

In short: it’s wonderful, and one of the main reasons we like biking here in Taipei, and Shizaitoushan is one of the nicest rides there is because it includes very little city riding, and a total elevation gain of about 1,000m, topping about 660m.

Shizaitoushan

The view from Shizaitoushan, or Lion head Mountain
Facts Here is a map on my Garmin page.This is in fact a great ride as it bypasses almost all city riding, totaling about 60k from the Fuxing-Zhongxiao intersection.