The decision was spontaneous and quick. A couple of calls between the partners in crime and after a few days later the tickets were added to the basket. For some of us this was like the first bikepacking trip ever, quite far from home. Sounds just fine to turn the #adventuremode on.
After reaching the capital city of Taiwan we knew instantly that it will not be a piece of cake to leave this giant airport. When we collected our packages with the bikes we simply started to assemble them where we’ve been standing. Just like that, like many times before on various occasions. Not this time though. A lot of safety features caused many problems and we wasted more than two hours just to leave the airport with the bicycles. Our top-tip no1 - if you‘ll ever be in Taiwan do not try to assemble your bicycle on the airport. Wait until you leave the airport first. But it’s not over yet. Facing the traffic of Taipei, on a bicycle, during the evening is... heavy. If you don‘t want to be killed just stay focused and keep your eyes open.
The Hand Of God
Probably one of the most famous and spectacular routes in Taiwan, especially when you look at... strava. Yes, this route makes the biggest impression when you see the final track on strava, it reminds the hand, hence the name – Diego Armando’s notorious ‘Hand of God‘. But you know what? We’ve expected something better. Let me get things straight, that was not the best day of our lives and the view of Taipei during the evening was probably the best part of it.
During the first couple of days the weather was not on our side. A lot of rain, foggy mornings and wet asphalts. Wet season at its best. Still, could be worse – one of us had an occassion to check the grip of the taiwanese tarmacs – Asphalt 1:0 Dominic. That was enough for our team. We decided to take a train and do a little teleport to the other side of the island. After reaching the train station we met some local cyclists who decided to do the same. The deep blue HVRT CF0 made some serious noise and the most common comment was ‘SO SEXY!‘.
We knew the decision was right soon after reaching the city of Taizong – the sun is shining, the views are spot on, we have our bicycles and a bunch of friends around – couldn’t be much better than this. We faced some serious % that day, choosing #theroadlessridden. You may believe it or not but these routes were way harder than any Mortirolos, Punta Velenas and Zoncolans we did in the past. We had to conquer some tough uphills that were even harder with the heavy loaded bikes. You have to like it and you know what? When we look back we liked it indeed.
This is THE DAY
We’ve been waiting for this day and now it is, in all its glory. Spectacular views, great weather and uphills that are not designed to ruin your legs. Pure pleasure in cycling. This picture of tea fields has absolutely blowed our minds and appeared to us like the symbol of Taiwan. Definitely one of the best views we’ve seen there. Nothing lasts forever though so after a couple of hours we can see some clouds in the sky. So here it is, top tip no2 – if you want to have the best weather conditions and views while being in Taiwan you should be ready to hit the road with the first rays of sunlight.
A night to remember
One of the most interesting overnights we’ve had took place in the abbandoned bus that was converted into a hotel. If you add an altitude – 2300m a.s.l. – you have a recipe for a nice party. Unfortunatelly we made one tiny mistake but it was crucial for the next couple of days – before falling asleep we turned the heat off. Holly smoke, it was pretty damn cold that night! Next day, instead of being rested before the most important test of the whole trip (Taiwan KOM challenge) we were completely tired and sleepy. Shit happens.
Taiwan KOM Challenge is probably the best known and the hardest route you can do while being in Taiwan. Let’s be honest, to say it’s challenging is to say nothing at all. You have to be prepared for a 100km battle. The first couple of rounds are relatively easy, steady 6% from 0-2600m a.s.l. make you think you can win this match easily. But then, as a true champion, the mountain prepares an attack you‘re not expecting at all. A punch in the face. The next ~800m of climbing are brutal. You have to stay strong if you don’t want to be knocked down and counted out. Your only hope now is to win this fight on points but it is still a win, right? This is cycling and cyclist are the strongest of them all! Just try to find a pleasure in it and honestly it should‘t be difficult task. Picturesque views, enormous moutains and feeling of being on a movie set of ‘Jurassic Park‘. Yes, it feels like riding through the jungle. Have you ever seen Anaga National Park on Tenerife Island? It is quite the same but like 50x bigger. Today if we think ‘Taiwan‘ we see this views. The essence, the icing on the cake of the whole trip. Even the broken rear wheel cannot spoil this impression. Note – huge thanks to a serviceman in Hualien who fixed the wheel and didn’t even want a payment. During the whole trip we met a lot of local people. All of them were always humble and smiling. People of Taiwan are just amazing and truly friendly. No matter the language, no matter the barriers, they are always ready to help and let it be the best ending of this story.