I was informed by the organizers that they chose to ride Taiwan because they felt it was, "unique, beautiful and not too easy." They also noted that Taiwan is being hailed as "the new cyclists haven" and so it was the top of the list. They will not be disappointed. The ride can be followed on their blog here.
The Itinerary will be as follows:
Day 1 : Saturday 20 November
London – Kaohsiung
Overnight flight from London to Kaohsiung via Hong Kong.
Kaohsiung – Kenting National Park
Arrive at Kaohsiung. On arrival we transfer to a hotel in the Kenting National Park in the tropical peninsula. We have dinner together, bike fitting and hear more about the challenge ahead. The park is the oldest and southernmost park in Taiwan established in 1984. It is famous for its coral reef cliffs, and for housing the historical lighthouse of Eluanbi.
Eluanbi – Sichongxi 65km approx
We start the challenge with a warm up cycle from Eluanbi, the southern most tip of the peninsula. The tropical area of Taiwan is beautiful, a great start to the challenge. We’ll be cycling along the coast on some main roads with little traffic, the morning will be tougher as there are a few steep uphills and a steep downhill. The landscape to begin with is coast on one side and a tropical forest on the other. The first steep uphill passes through villages including Longpin, at the top we will be rewarded with views across the sea. After 3-4km the road heads down a steep section which levels out again along the shoreline. Next we head inland, and the landscape gives us a different view of what Taiwan has to offer with its lush tea plantations carpeting the valley. After another steep uphill and a few undulations we stop for lunch. The afternoon is less hilly, as we cycle on gentle undulations for most of the way cutting across farmland. We pass the impressive Checheng Temple then it’s the last 11km of the day to Sihchongxi. A short cycle uphill takes us to the overnight hotel located in the village, near the hot springs.
Sichongxi – Zhiben 102km approx
Today we cycle from the west coast to the east of this paradise island and it’s another hilly day. We follow the sunshine coast line of the Pacific Ocean through local towns and small villages. The coastal road is popular with the locals and roads will range from tarmac roads, highways, to some which are less well-maintained with some pot-holes. There will be more traffic than yesterday so it’s likely there will be sections where we will cycle in single file. To start with we cycle along a road in a narrow valley between high cliffs, then farmland. The road climbs and drops and just before lunch we cycle downhill to sea level. We will be able to enjoy the tropical views and interaction with very hospitable Taiwanese people en route. For most of the afternoon we continue on hilly terrain passing through the local villages of Daren, Dawu and Jinluen to name but a few. The day ends with a short, sharp 1km hill up through the village of Zhiben. We stay overnight at a hotel in Zhiben, the famous town of the hot springs.
Zhiben – Changgung 83km approx
It’s an easier day today mainly along the coast as we cycle in this rural part of Taiwan through the gorge. This morning we retrace our route back down to the coast. The first 20km is gently undulating tarmac road of urban cycling. En route today we will be taking a short snack stop at Fugang, a small fishing village, to soak up some of the typical scenes of local life. Late morning we pick up a designated cycle lane on a gently undulating road through Beinan and Fushan. The landscape is beautiful here as the mountain slopes to meet the coastline. After lunch we enjoy the special scenery of the gorge, a wide valley and rice fields until we reach our overnight hotel in the town of Changgung.
Changgung – Shoufong 110km approx
Today is our longest cycle day of the challenge, by now we will have built up stamina from the first half of our challenge. It’s a long day in the mountains and valleys. We climb from the coast to the Central Valley; the scenery is stunning. First we follow the usual coastal road, on a cycle lane on the hard shoulder. After 2km we come to the first of 2 tunnels. We continue on through villages and towns of Yiwan, Shihyusan and Ningpu. After a further 18km we come to a very steep uphill, followed by our second tunnel: a 3km-long tunnel on a gentle ascent. Exit the tunnel and enter the village of Fuli, from here it’s a spectacular downhill into the valley with some amazing views. We break for lunch, then it’s back on the bikes for an afternoon of cycling on hilly terrain and strong undulations; we cycle over the River Fuyan and enjoy the stunning scenery and catch glimpses of local village life in this unique country. We overnight at a resort in the Central Valley.
Shoufeng – Hualien – Taroko National Park 55km approx
We start the day cycling to Hualien and follow the new designated cycle path along the coast and the city. We then continue to the entrance of the Taroko Gorges where we finish our cycling. After lunch, we visit the wonderland of natural beauty, Taroko Gorge, by coach. Taroko National Park is in the north-eastern part of the island, facing the Pacific Ocean. The park has many high mountains and steep gorges, with many peaks towering above 3,000m in height, and with many natural watersheds. The many waterfalls, diverse forms of plant and animal life, and the indigenous Taroko people, together create the rich texture of this unique natural ecosystem. The tour takes us past deep marble canyons, rushing white water and towering cliffs, one of the world’s most scenic attractions.
Tonight we have a special meal together to celebrate the achievements of the week.
Morning transfer to Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan to overnight. A few hours to explore before transferring to the airport to catch our evening flight home to London.
Day 9 Sunday 28 November