Virtual Tour 31: Taiwan Revisited Day 3

Some of us were downstairs for breakfast at 7.00 am.

We had hoped to start riding at 8.00 am.  W didn’t get away until 8.30 am.  Perhaps the kaoliang the evening before had something to do with it.

Day 2 was an 83km / 52mi ride north from Jioxi to the Wufenshan Observatory.

Our first stop was just 8km / 5mi away at the Lanyang Museum.  The design of this museum about the local area was inspired by the cuestas (hills or ridges with a gentle slope on one side, and a steep slope on the other) commonly seen along the Beiguan Coast. The building emerges from the ground in a similar fashion to those cuestas.

6km / 4mi further on we came to Wai’ao Beach.  It was a very windy morning and the waves were crashing onto the rocks.

After hugging the coast for 30km / 18mi we entered the Old Caoling Tunnel.  The tunnel was built in the 1920s to connect northern Taiwan with the eastern coast by rail. A new tunnel was built in the 1980s and the old tunnel was closed until 2008 when it reopened as a tourist-friendly bikeway.

The tunnel is about 2km / 1.2mi long and is decorated with mock railroad tracks on the ground.

A few kilometres from the New Taipei City end of the tunnel is Fulong Station.

That was our last chance to buy food and drink and to use a restroom before our first climb of the day.  About 500 metres / 1,640 feet of elevation over 10km / 6mi.

At the summit of Buyanting is this pavilion.

It is known as the “Not Tired Of” pavilion, in reference to a poem in which the poet Li Bai says he is not tired of the view of Shuangxi District.

Lunch at Jiufen was next of the agenda.  Thankfully it is mostly downhill to Jiufen.

Jiufen is known for the narrow alleyways of its old town, packed with teahouses, street-food shacks and souvenir shops.  The town has a history as a mining hub during the Japanese-era gold rush.

After a lunch of beef noodle soup and dessert of taro balls and tau fu fah (beancurd jelly) it was time to head off to the second, and steeper, climb of the day.  We had a 7km / 4.3mi downhill run before the left turn onto Jing’an Road.

Our goal was the Wufenshan Meteorological Radar Observatory, 12.2km / 7.6mi away and 673 metres / 2,208 feet upwards.  The intermediate goal was to get to the Wufenshan Gate, which is 4.5km / 2.8mi from the observatory.  Our driver would not be able to drive our support van beyond that point.

The climb to the Wufenshan Gate averages 5.4%.  From the gate to the meteorological observatory it ramps up slightly to average 6.0%.

The last few kilometres were a real slog.  Fortunately, the meteorological observatory becomes visible from about 2 kilometres away.  Having the final destination in sight definitely helped.

The view was quite spectacular.

None of us hung around very long enjoying the view though.  The sun was setting and the wind had picked up.  It was 14°C / 57°F up there and we were damp and not dressed for the cold.  It was a fun but very chilly hairpin descent to the Wufenshan Gate.

We had planned to end our ride 6km / 4mi or so further down the road at Shifen but the cold and increasing gloom of the evening put paid to that plan.

Once everyone was back at the gate we loaded up the vans (we had a second van just for this last road journey) and drove back to the City Suites – Beimen in Taipei.

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