TAIWAN, where I unexpectedly I got my cycling groove back!
That bicycles can be a means of bringing strangers together was never truer than on this trip. An unlikely rag-tag group of 5, plus our guide, spent 12 days touring this beautiful paradise. We went from clean bustling cities like Taipei, to rice field-lined bike paths in Hualien and Taitung on the east coast. Join me on the other side of the jump to hear a little more about our trip.
Odds are, your bike was made by Taiwan based Giant Bicycles. Even if your bike doesn’t have that logo, likely it, or part of it started here on the island locals once called “Formosa” (Portugese for “Beautiful”). The world’s largest bicycle manufacturer – with not only the economic power to influence, but the motivation via its founder King Lui’s Cycling Lifestyle Foundation – wants to promote recreational cycling on its own homeland for those from around the world. Stay tuned for later blog posts where I’ll share the view from the factory floor, with brands you know and ride, all made by the same – pun intended – Giant factory.
For now, I thought I’d link some of the posts I’ve already written at my own blog, BevCycle. Highlights of the first half of this trip were both participating in the official opening ceremony for the “Taiwan Cycling Festival” and meeting dignitaries such as the Minister of Transportation and Communications.
Here’s a snip from my post titled Day 3: 70 Kilometers of Bike Paths and Bike Lanes:
After crossing a straight bridge for pedestrians/cyclists only – I continued on an amazingly empty and beautiful flat path that was clearly once a busy railroad track. Stunningly bright green rice fields flanked the path – and the rain let up for my peaceful exploration and photo opportunities.
Day 4: We reached the Hualien shoreline and met up with the effects of Typhoon Megi (coming from the Philippines). Despite this, more bike paths were ridden in crazy rain along the shoreline. But temperatures were perfect, and fun was inevitable. We had no idea of what was to come, though – the most beautiful place I’ve seen – Taroko National Park. The stunning view, was breathtaking. Steep walls of greenery and waterfalls surrounded me. For that, check out my entries for days 5 and 6.
Day 7: Leaving Taroko Gorge was hard. Reluctantly, I joined the group on the bus to depart down the winding road, knowing that it meant leaving the marble cliffs, lush hillsides, and amazing tunnels. Knowing that it could get even better, though, motivated me to say bye to a place I hope I’m fortunate to return to. Taiwan has me sold as a beautiful place to explore further via hiking, rafting, or biking. So I already am imagining it’s not my last visit. The itinerary has us flying back to Taipei to see the cleanest well stocked bike shops around, and hospitality with 5 stars. This half of the trip already surpassed my expectations.
Next blog posts will include how I spent my 10 minutes with the famous Rabobank sprinter Óscar Freire by flirting with team manager (and famed pro himself), Erik Dekker. Luckily they weren’t relying on me to do the interviewing!