Biking in Taiwan – East Coast Edition

This is a collection of resources I found helpful for planning our bike trip, our route, some recommendations.

Our route
Day 1. Luodong bike pickup. Bike to Nan’oa (highway 2 and highway 9). Train to Xincheng(Taroko). Bike to Taroko Village.
Day 2. Bus to hiking (weather sucked)
Day 3. Bike Taroko Village to Tianxing and back ~18km, 420m each way. Bike Taroko Village to Hualien on Highway 9 ~20km (about an hour), mainly flat, good bike lanes. There are nicer cycle routes then this that you should take. We just didn’t know.
Day 4. Hualien City to Shitiping. ~68 km.  1300m. 1 large climb.
Day 5. Shitiping to Doulan. Mainly flattish. Elevation changes are gradual. 86 km, 720 km.
Day 6. Doulan to Antong Hot Spring (lower). 83 km, 1180m + a bit of train. If you want to ride it all it’s 110 or more km with plenty of climbing if you take the county roads.
Day 7. Antong Hot Spring to Taipei. Mostly train.

Recommendations/Thoughts
1. We biked the coast south (the side away from the water) because winter winds are typically out of the northeast. Also, it seems most tour buses on Highway 11 go south to north. There is bus traffic the other direction, but there didn’t seem to be as much.

2. There are cyclist rest stops. Many are at police stations. They provide restrooms and drinking water. Since they’re in towns, being able to carry a enough water for undeveloped sections is important.

3. Have good lights. The east coast has a large number of tunnels (some are very long) .  (Also photo chromatic glasses would have been nice).

4. You could survive with road slicks, but at times there’s debris in the bike lanes (rocks, dirt, nuts, leaves, etc.) along with potholes, falling divots and the expansion joints for bridges have reasonably large gaps.

5. We started in Luodong. There was a good scooter/bike lane until Su’ao. From Su’ao to Nan’ao was very hilly (2 long climbs and descents) on a reasonably bust mountain road with buses, trucks and more. The shoulder ranges from fine to non-existant next to a 3 foot deep 1-foot wide drainage ditch. The road edge also had slippery green film growing at times and wasn’t suitable for biking There are pullouts, but that only helps so much. Drivers are generally good about leaving you space if they can easily do so (they were very good in Taroko Gorge about this), however, they aren’t always able to do this. This section tested my nerves and I wouldn’t recommend it to new cyclist or those that are not very comfortable with tight spaces and traffic.  We didn’t bike Nan’oa to Xincheng, but I think it’s more of the same with more tunnels.

6) Giant Rental Bike Program. We initially emailed two different stores, but didn’t get a response. Finally, we had our hotel call and talk to them in Chinese, which worked as expected. I suggest you find someone that speaks Chinese and have them call on your behalf several days out. Based on other people we saw with the rental bikes, the equipment varies depending on where you rent.

Resources
1) blog post about taking bikes on Taiwan trains. We did 2 people + 2 bikes from Nan’oa to xincheng (Taroko) on a fast local train for $192 NTD ~ just under $6 USD.

2) Blog post with general and route info.

3) Information about Giant Bicycle Rental Program.
Source 1
Source 2 (A list of Giant stores)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s