Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spring Ride in Taiwan Day 6 - Yuli to Chishang, 60km with a steep steep detour

It was to be an easy 60km ride to Chishang so we took a leisurely breakfast at our Kagaya Hot Springs Hotel. There was a good reason why we had to climb so hard last night, and that was the splendid views that were on offer. The morning sun lighted the magnificent surroundings for us and it was too amazing to describe. We could see the township of Yuli from where we are, 10km away. This is certainly a place worth staying a few nights, and why o why do we have to leave?

Once again, the wet ride yesterday really took a toll on our bikes as rust started to form on our chains and everything was creaking away. So we took some time to lube the bikes and do the necessary before  taking forever to assemble for a group picture. Mornings somehow can get a bit messy but nobody minded one bit.

Our first stop just a short ride from the foot of the hill was a converted train station. The Taiwanese Authorities have transformed this into a magnificent bike path right in the middle of green rice fields with splendid mountains at the edge. We were bowed over at what we saw! Joeel wanted us to ride in a long single file while he shot a video and we had fun playing choo choo train on our foldies, giggling excitedly like kindy kids.

Pic Roland Lee

We then crossed the famous bicycle bridge which had a detailed description of the geographic plates that Taiwan sits on and it was good to learn about fault lines and such.  With earthquakes, typhoons, landslides etc, there is never a dull moment living here weather wise. 

It was a quick stop at 7/11 to restock supplies especially for those who were going up the famous 60 stone mountain pass later. The ride to Chishang was through stunning green fields of rice and mainly flat. After so many days of riding, it was just fun to cruise happily with little effort just soaking in the scenery before us.

YC had organized the 60 stone (Liushidan san) mountain climb to make things interesting. 800m of nice climbs and hairpins with the promise of amazing scenery.There seem to be many stories on how the name came about but the one that makes the most sense seem to be that most rice fields can only yield 40-50 stones of rice.  However, this area is so fertile that it can yield 60 stones!

As my "contract" did not want to climb, and some of the group had had enough of hills, I had to lead this group of 5 to Chishang. We parted ways at the turn off and I volunteered to take a pannier for Elaine and Carolen as my BF Expedition had an empty front rack. On trips like this, we all need to help each other as much as possible and this is what makes touring fun! 

As I waved them goodbye and wish them all the very best, a part of me wished I was with them. Our ride to Chishang was uneventful except we got caught in some really heavy showers and had to take shelter in a small village. Our thoughts went to the 60 stone gang and we prayed that they would be safe up there.  Little did I realize the drama they had up there with the storms and all. They were successful in their climb up but coming down was a different experience. 

With slippery roads and steep curvy descends, 4 ladies came off their bikes at different parts of the descend. Fortunately, none of them had any serious injuries and the bikes were all relatively unscathed. It is through times like this that we can sense God's divine protection and care for us. I am grateful they all could still ride on in high spirits to Chishang.

Our team of 5 arrived early and the first thing we wanted was a nice hot meal. Chishang is famous for the Blue Train Bento and it was easy to spot this eatery. Just look out for an old blue train carriage parked at the start of town. There is nothing like a delicious Taiwanese Bento meal after a long ride. We were all famished but none more than Papa who ordered literally everything on the menu. I don't blame him because everything was so so good here and I would have done the same if I could!

We checked into Dapochi Vacation Centre Hotel, which is an apartment style tall tourist hotel with an outstanding brown brick facade. The rooms were comfortable enough and offered a stunning view of the rice fields and mountain ranges. It was nice to be able to have a bit of a shower and a rest while waiting for Team 60 to arrive. Judging from the number of senior citizen tourists here, this is obviously a very popular spot to stopover and for good reasons.

When the gang finally arrived just before the sun set, we were all very excited to welcome them and to hear their stories. I admired the resilience of those who had thrills and spills as they were all sharing enthusiastically of their adventures high up on 60 stones. Papa and Celia were busy attending to their injuries and we are very grateful to have such medical professionals with us on the team. 

Dinner was literally a steamy affair at a local hotpot restaurant and it was so good to tuck into fresh veggies and thinly cut slices of meat, eaten with hot rice and noodles. 

KL Mike and Oreo were enjoying themselves immensely but they wished they opted for glasses with built in demister!

We went for a short night bike tour of the small town of Chishang and ended the night with a briefing on the breezy roof top of the hotel. The energy level of everyone was still quite high and its amazing how fit we have become over the past 6 days of riding.

It was hard to believe that we have nearly come to the end of our ride of Eastern Taiwan and we have rode so far a distance. Tomorrow we shall start our last day with a different type of cycling and that promises to be buckets of fun!


Mini Product Review - 7/11 rain boots

They have everything and I mean everything for the cyclists in Taiwan. One product that we came across is the rain boots sold at 7/11. About US$5 a pair! We tried it during the heavy rain storm to Chishang. They are very effective in keeping your shoes dry but man, there is one small problem. It lacks ventilation and unless you can enjoy having a mini sauna attached on your feet while cycling in the rain, this product is not for me.

But then again, Celia seems to like it...  

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