After the long and wet rides of the previous days, we had to be compensated. Day 7 surely was breathtaking. The last three days of the trip were taking place on the East Coast, slowly rolling back up north into Taipei fighting rain and headwinds. Luckily there was always the #snackvan to cheer everyone up!
Day 7: Taitung to Ruisui
Our day started to early for me, as it has been the case the whole trip. The sun was already out but the weather predicted by teammate and local weatherman Jason didn’t promised any sunburned faces. Rain and headwind it would be. Still sleepy we started with an easy 15km gradual climb through some amazing valleys. On our right side we had the ocean, on the left side spectacular views of the mountains. Many small rivers were coming out of the mountains.
During one of the brakes we were introduced to a local super food: Annonas, a super nutritious fruit and also use in traditional medicine.
Full of energy we did a few sections racing each other from city to city, from traffic light to traffic light. Serious business: Matthew from Hawaii even brought his own aero bars to get everything out of the speedy folding bike!
Lunch was taking place in the backyard of a local chef who had been working in the US for over a decade. We were served amazing Japanese food in a little shed in his garden. Fresh sushi, so much better than most European sushi restaurants serve.
After lunch we got our first serious rain and the dirty roads quickly turned out bikes into brown colored objects. The only solution was more rain to wash it of, and that’s what we surely got in the afternoon.
Main attraction today was visiting and riding through the famous Chishang Paddy Fields. Views were truly breathtaking and a great moment to sit down and have a moment of reflection. Two weeks ago I was riding in the cold Dutch weather, one week ago we were in Taipei and there I was sitting in one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever been part of.
When the bike was clean again after more rain and 116 kilometres on the road 🙂
Day 8: Ruisui to Hualien & Luodong
I had an amazing night of sleep in the Ruixiong Hotspring Lodge. Happy about that, because we had a cold and windy ride to go. Today was a short day but the bad weather made it though. After an hour everybody was already drenched.
During the first break we visited an old sugar factory, which was turned into a tourist village. Whenever there was a sugar factory, we had to taste local ice cream! Although the temperatures were not close to having you craving for ice, the ice cream were delicious!
Not sure everybody was still enjoying the cycling, but at least we have the #snackvan bringing us the best local snacks!
After lunch we did another 15km before we reached Hualien Central station after 75 kilometres. The second part of today would be by train since the roads to Luodong were to dangerous. We were told that the road had not really space for a group of cyclist and considering the average level of experience of riders was low, it was a good call. The weather was ugly anyway, so no one really complained 🙂
Day 9: Luodong to Taipei!
The last day on the road started like we ended the previous days: rainy conditions and a fair bit of headwind. But we were heading towards the finish so spirits were high! During the ride into Taipei we had a few nice climbs on the route. One last chance to go flat out and destroy the legs.
Before we headed into the last mountains of the trip, we had a proper lunch in a tiny restaurant hidden away from the road. It was really popular looking to all the business suits having diner there. Quite a funny contrast with us dirty cyclists.
Some nice 5-7% climbs on big wide roads were a good way to finish the 900km trip! Some nice top 100 times on Strava again but those steeps climbs are still not my favourite part.
No tourist attractions today so after getting to the top it was another 20 kilometer downhill and trying to survive the busy streets of Taiwan. After 109 kilometers we were back at the place were we started 9 days ago. Including some bonus laps and sprints I finished with 965 kilometers in total.
During the trip we have created new friendships. We have laughed so many times about the most stupid jokes. Some people really had no clue what was waiting for them. I was truly amazed by the stamina of some of the non-experienced riders. Weather really sucked at some points but almost everyone finished the whole ride around the island. It shows again that cycling is an accessible way for everyone to enjoy a country in the best way possible. For me it was a new way of cycling. Based on the distance I could have done this ride in 2,5 to 3 days in ultra racing mode but now I actually experienced Taiwan as it really is. Taiwan is an awesome place to ride your bike. Cheers!
Disclaimer: this trip was sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau