At this point, I am in Taichung. According to official records, it is the second most populous city in Taiwan with almost 3 million inhabitants. I did my best to ride through the city and get out as fast as possible; which is not too fast on a Brompton. There are probably tons of interesting areas to visit in Taichung but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.
I spent a few hours riding through massive swarms of scooters and breathing in their exhaust until I reached Changhua City. I received a series of air pollution notifications on my phone from Google. I didn’t even know that feature existed until I came to Taichung. Good looking out, Google. Thank goodness the ride was flat. If you must circle Taiwan, I hope you find a much more peaceful route through this stretch.
The next day after the vehicle exhaust chamber that was Taichung; from Changhua City I headed for Caotun Township. On the way there I visited the “Fan” train yard. This means I was riding through hellish urban traffic once again. Please do not be overly concerned about poor driving / scootering skills of the locals. These are professionals. They are all typically very courteous and there is a sense of rhythm; traffic sort of flows as it should. I just ride and follow the rules even if the scooterers don’t always do.
The Fan train yard is also next to some street that’s closed off for what seems to be redevelopment. From looking (not reading) at signs that were put up in the area, I arrived to the conclusion that the people displaced were not very happy. Worth a visit if you like what you see in the following pictures:
After visiting the Fan train yard and the surrounding area, I found myself on Route 139. I was climbing for a a little bit and then saw a terrifying uphill. In hindsight, I should have took a picture because I know you don’t believe me. Okay, it was terrifying to see that hill while you’re seated on a Brompton. Sport cyclists will see that as a mere speed bump. If you’re on the 139 one day heading to Caotun, and you see this crazy uphill at a T intersection with a bicycle rest area on the east corner – that’s the hill I’m talking about.
Riding the 139 is actually quite interesting. I think this may be a popular training area for cyclists as there were many of them. At the top of the terrifying hill, there is a store with some picnic tables. I stop in for some candy and a road cyclist asked me how I knew about this route. I told him I didn’t, I’m just following the Google Map. As we chatted, a gust of wind blew his carbon road bike off a post he was leaning his bike on. Not even kidding. This made me think about lightening up my load because carrying all this weight up these hills is no joke. It would be something that I do as the trip progresses.
But back on topic; Route 139 I rode is basically all up hill. On this particular Saturday, there were many motor cyclists living out their track dreams going in both directions. There were even photographers on the side of the road snapping pics. I did not find the motor cyclists to be threatening; I thought it was kind of cool that Taiwan has a motorcycling scene like this – hit the mountains with your friends; hobbyist photographers taking snaps – seems cool to me. There are quite a few roadside coffee stands and some restaurants to cater to the crowds as I saw many bikes and crews parked at these establishments. There was even a campground on the route, but when I inquired about camping accommodations, I was turned away because they were having some kind of wedding reception.
Of course after all that uphill there was a nice downhill. This route might be more fun going northbound as the downhill for me was much too short. Well it was fun, anyway.
I didn’t take any pictures while climbing motorcycle hill as I have not developed the skill of riding uphill and using my phone’s camera. Probably should have stopped, but then I’ll lose my momentum. But here’s a picture I took when I arrived in Caotun:
That about sums up the activities for the past two days. Sun Moon Lake is up next. Thanks for reading.