When we touched down in Taipei, we had the cool crisp weather to welcome us. Its winter now in Taiwan, and Taipei is the coldest of all the parts of the island.
We travelled with Cathay Pacific, and very thankfully, all our bikes were in one piece when we received them from the airline staff.
Once we checked in at City Suites, we quickly assembled our bikes. First things, first before heading out for food. Pai leads the way to the night market with loads of food.
Highlights were the big prawns, taro balls (40 people standing in front of Kenix), smelly tofu, and duck tongue (Bin’s recommendation)
Here are our first (of many) group photos as we were acquainted with some new friends, and met some old ones.
Day 1 – Taipei (台北, Tái Běi) to Hsinchu (新竹, Xīn Zhú)
Our ride pack convened at 9.00 am to start the ride, just to realize the rain decided we should start an hour later. We kicked off close to 10.00 am.
The weather was around 14 degrees celsius. Having not ridden in such cold weather, the start was challenging. Well for me, at least. My ride pack seemed to be taking it well. So, I decided to toughen up. Harumph!
We rode for a while in the busy city, that lead to inner cycling paths of Taipei, and that part was gorgeous. There were many puddles, where we tried hard to avoid, which only lead to wet socks or splashing of water to a fellow cyclist mate behind.
After 16.3km, we stopped for coffee and toilet break. Since it’s cold and we don’t sweat much, toilet breaks are NECESSARY. And I simply don’t drink as much.
We rode on till we were on slight outskirts and took a break for lunch. Some of the guys had beers during lunch, which was very tempting but I exercised restraint. I think one of the guys attempted to convince us that beer is good to reduce lactic acid (raise eyebrows)… I was actually tempted to prove a science (of course).
Throughout the day, the ride got slightly warmer but still chilly. We pushed on anyway, looking forward to reaching the hotel of our destination in Hsinchu.
We cycled up to the windmills and had experienced vortexes of wind as we rode right under the windmills! What a cool experience!
We got to Carlton around 5.30 pm. It was getting really dark and cool, but we were all thankful we arrived. We ended the night with Shabu-Shabu Hotpot. How perfect for a cool night.
Day 2 – Hsinchu (新竹, Xīn Zhú) to Lukang (鹿港; Lù Gǎng)
Great day. Started off with much better weather compared to day 1. We hit the road by 8.30 am. Started getting warmer since we were headed down south and further from Taipei.
The first part of this ride was interesting. The cycling trail leads into the woods, and for a moment it felt like mountain biking without being in the mud. We had a thin road, but a well maintained one, and our road bike were comfortable going about 24-25 km/h. We couldn’t go too fast because there were many bends.
We took a break for lunch and enjoyed awesome food. As always. Taiwan food never disappoints. Well, it’s day 2 and I believe this will hold till day 10.
We were on long straight roads for awhile before we headed into the industrial areas. There were so many traffic lights, and there was a stretch that we stopped for lights at nearly every 100 meters.
We were giving our Captain Pai a lot of flack because he would have his hand signal to “slow down” then “stop”, in the sign of a ✊ fist and he would keep moving right past the light. At times, he would be the only past the set of lights while we all waited for traffic to past.
The industrial roads were tricky. At times we found ourselves getting jerked or blown a bit by crosswinds. Just when I started daydreaming about what food I was gonna eat in Lukang, I was awoken by a blast of crosswind. I could hear my mate Kevin and Kenix riding nearby going.. “whoaa… whoaa…”
We rode to the top of the mountain where we got to see a ?birds-eye view of windmills generating power for Taiwan. Wow, what a sight! (The short climb up there was around 10-11% and gave us a taste of what’s to come in the coming days…)
We visited a beautiful temple, and took more beautiful shots.
Arrived at Ease Group Motel around 4.30 pm. Better timing than the day before. Headed out for dinner close to 7 pm for a night of superb food. The stalls served amazing food, and sometimes we didn’t even know what we were eating but we tried anyway.
Day 3 – Lukang (鹿港; Lù Gǎng) to Budai (布袋, Bù Dài)
Started the day with a detour to Giant. We converted mine and Bin’s tyres into ones that use tubes.
This was a really good move because touring was more secure on bumpy roads with tyres that used tubes, versus tubeless ones that are hard to fix if there were problems. Some small cities we ventured into would not have the parts we needed.
We even received Giant branded Ang Pow packets (empty ones of course), but I took it as a sign that within Year of the Rat I change to a new bike! *hearts*
The detour took us around 1.5 hours, and we were on our way. Stopped at an awesome place for lunch. Served a rice tapioca dish with minced meat and egg. It was super delish!
Took many cycling photos of our ride pack today. Here are some awesome shots.
We also took many group shots, and one of my favourites was the one taken by Xiao Ger at a beautiful red bridge.
The end of today concluded with cyclist modelling shots. We headed to a nice area with many beautiful icons.
We had some of the best photos thanks to Xiao Ger’s expert posing advice, and below were some really awesome shots we took with the sunset in Budai.
Gotta say… we have a really good-looking bunch here!