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
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 (新城) 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 (天祥) and an afternoon excursion into the Baiyang Trail (白楊步道). 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 (瑞穗) 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.

3 comments to East Rift Valley

  • Wow that looks like a nice ride. I have ridden the East Coast and the Rift Valley – both beautiful rides. I have never ridden Taroko. Some nice picturs and I am sure it is better to see Taroko from the seat of a bike than from inside a tour bus, car or motorcycle. The photos were also cool. I liked them. Thanks for sharing.

  • tbv

    Taroko is a great ride because it is so beautiful. I think that apart from walking it (which i haven’t done), riding a bicycle is the best way to see it. It is easy to stop wherever there’s a view to take in. Just remember a powerful light for all the tunnels, not only for oncoming traffic to see you, but also for you to see the road surface. It’s also a good place to start a ride down the East Rift Valley since you can get off the train at Xincheng, spend the night in Tianxiang, or roll back down the same day and sleep somewhere around Hualien, and then you’re basically at the start of the 193 ride down the East Rift Valley.

  • May

    Hi, I am a student hoping to cover some of this East Rift Valley route you mention in your blog. Is it possible for me to contact you in private please? Thank you!