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
24th May, 2010

Taipei-Northeast Cape-Jiaoxi

100524-01.jpgWe packed our day packs this morning and decided to go down to Jiaoxi (礁溪) for a dip in the hot springs on the assumption that the Central Weather Bureau was getting their forecast right – overcast and 20 percent risk of rain. Their forecasts have been crap after all the criticism they received for not correctly predicting the enormous amounts of rain brought by Typhoon Morakot in August last year – it killed over 700 people and wiped out a whole village in a landslide in Kaohsiung County – as if they were in the business of fortune telling rather than dealing with probabilities. Ever since, they seem to have been constantly forecasting worse weather than we actually get. A while ago, they said there would be thunderstorms every day for over a week, and we didn’t even get rain. They must have decided to err on the side of caution.

We stopped in Shifen for some noodles and doufu and a Shashi, ie, a Hey Song Sarsaparilla, the only soft drink I drink unmixed. Because it is soooo good.

We got a later start than planned, and didn’t get out until 7.40, right in the middle of the morning rush with people going to work and parents taking kids to school and double and triple parking to drop their kids off. I think I even saw one driver kick a kid out of the car without stopping although he may have slowed down a bit. By 8.30, we had done the 16km to the place where road 106 splits in to 106 and 106 A. We took the 106 for 20km, past Pingxi (平溪) and down to Shifen (十分) were we would take road 2C to Shuangxi (雙溪), but first we stopped for noodles and doufu in a place almost on the narrow gauge railway from Ruifang (瑞芳) to Pingxi (a really nice train ride, by the way, if you like riding on trains like I do). We also watched a series of sky lanterns disappear into the skies as a couple of school classes were setting them off. One of them crashed in a forest almost immediately after take-off, which must have brought lots and lots of bad luck. And it was probably the teacher’s, too.

Then the train came through town

From Shifen, its about 13km into Shuangxi, were the plan was to hit the mountains for some quiet and solitude, and a few great views out over the Pacific from a hilltop observation deck. However, we entered Shuangxi from another road than last time, so I was a bit more confused than I normally am, and then we started talking about something, and before we knew it, we had continued down the 2C several kilometers past the road we wanted, so D suggested that we do the ride along the Northeastern Cape coast road past Fulong (福隆), Dali (大里) and Toucheng (頭城) instead. Since we hadn’t done that before, we decided to try it. It soon turned out that there were too many gravel trucks going up and down that road to be comfortable, but since we were already on it, we pressed on anyway.

D puts a towel on her head to show that she’s Taiwanese during a break at Shicheng scenic spot

About 25km past Shuangxi, it was time for a break, and we stopped for a coffee and a waffle at the coffee shop at the Shicheng (石城) scenic spot, about 30km away from Jiaoxi. With some coffee in the system, we then made it down to Jiaoxi in just below an hour without stopping, except for a red light just on the outskirts of Jiaoxi. I was pretty happy with that – after 75km on the bike, we could both still keep an average speed of just above 30km for an hour without resting. And we didn’t even have the wind in our backs.

A cup of coffee against the backdrop of Taiwan’s east coast

In Jiaoxi, we picked one of the dozens and dozens of hot spring places. They offered small private rooms with a big hinoki-clad tub for two for NT$400. It’s great to soak your body like that after almost five hours on the bike. We had originally planned to go to a public hot spring, but they wouldn’t let us put our bikes in a safe place so we decided to go somewhere else. That might sound like asking a bit much, but here in Taiwan we are almost without exception allowed to bring our bikes inside restaurants, bars, hotels and whatnot when we’re out biking. We’ve even been allowed to bring our bikes inside at Carnegie’s in Taipei for Sunday brunch (5 of’em!) and at Kiki’s on a busy night (3 bikes).
Anyway, after the hot soak, it was dinner at a seafood place, and then we hopped on a Capital Bus (首都客運) and were back in Taipei 45 minutes later, for 90 bucks a head. Pretty good. Just take the front wheel off the bike, and the girls will even help you load it in the luggage compartment of the bus.

Dinner in Jiaoxi
Facts The Garmin map of the ride with the Garmin data can be found here, and the Google Map is here. This is a nice ride, but I recommend forgetting about the taking road 2 around the cape and instead taking the Shuangtai industrial road (雙泰產業道路) in Shuangxi and going through the mountains (a previous ride) because there is no traffic, it is quiet and the air is good, and there are mountains to climb. If you don’t have time to spend the night and ride home again next day, Capital and one or two more bus companies run buses to Taipei every 15-20 minutes, and all they ask, at least at Capital, is that you take off the front wheel. No bike bags or anything else required, and it is only 90 bucks per person.

4 comments to Taipei-Northeast Cape-Jiaoxi

  • Sounds like a good ride. I might follow your trails at some point. You are right about the weather bureau though. I got caught up in the torrential rain on Sunday though – perhaps I should have checked…ha ha…anyway, thanks for the nice report. I will be reading your blog more.

  • Gee

    Fräsch resa! Kommer till Taipei om några veckor för första gången på ett tag. Finns det några nya hippa cykelaffärer som säljer typ snygga väskor och korgar och sånt? Eller är det fortfarande bara antingen att ta sig fram fortast möjligt eller vikcyklar som gäller?

  • Anonymous

    Paul, thanks, always nice to know that someone reads the blog. The ride would be even better if you do the Caoling tunnel ride to cut out part of the road. Too many big gravel trucks for my taste.
    Gee, vet inte riktigt. Vi har vår favoritaffär, och han säljer mest racers, mountainbikes och touringbågar med tillbehör. Cykling som pendlingsfordon har inte riktigt slagit igenom i Taiwan. Cyklar man så är det mer för fitness än för att förflytta sig i stan. Vikcyklarna verkar fortfarande poppis, vilket är vettigt eftersom man kan ta dem med sig på tunnelbanan om man vill.

  • Gee

    Ok. Tänkte att det kanske kunde ha kommit lite hipsters som mest glider runt och vill se coola ut 😉 Pendla på cykel sätter nog värmen stopp för. Det är ju enklare här i Sverige, lite kyla och snö stoppar ju inte pendlingen.