In homage to its burgeoning reputation as a cycling mecca, there are now at least 26 major bikeways through the 12 “national scenic areas” on the island’s four quadrants. Indeed, over the last ten years alone approximately 4,800 km of bikeway has been laid and built across Taiwan, representing hundreds of well-placed, well-marked, stunningly scenic routes, many of which include cycling maps and rest stops along the way.
Our opXpedition across Taiwan will include some of this spectacular road cycling—and we’re both pushing and pacing ourselves: pondering whether we might accomplish 80 to 100 km a day, though much of what we can do will depend on weather, terrain (Taiwan is notoriously hilly, and vertically sliced by the Central Mountain Range), and other non-Team-Outpost-controllable factors. Controllable factors are how ready we are for some multi-day, long-distance, possible uphill pedalling!
For cyclists who want a challenge Taiwan is super optimal, boasting a fantastic combination of terrain, tropical forests, lush rice and tea plantations, ravines, spectacular coastal scenery, and often traffic-sparse roadways or vehicle-prohibited pathways, which together create superb long-distance cycling routes.
Combine that with the island’s homegrown and home-based bike brands and renters and you’re off to the races. The top-to-tip southbound coastal ride along the ultramodern Highway 11 that wraps the eastern coast of the entire island—or the more inland Highway 9 that follows a similar direction—will likely be Team Outpost’s preferred route. Stay tuned to see where we end up, and how we do!
For serious cycling contenders there’s the Provincial Highway 18 Competition Route, and since 2011 the now annual and highly anticipated Taiwan Cycling Festival that is held every November in various venues across the island. Targeting all levels for participation—professional and amateur riders alike—the festival is fast becoming the highlight on Taiwan’s social calendar.
Running a variety of smaller accessible races, bike tours and family-friendly activities, the festival also boasts two key competitive events: the Formosa 900 (an eight-day, 900-plus km, round-the-island relay race); and the uber-demanding Taiwan King of the Mountain Challenge (or KOM, where cyclists bike uphill for 100 km though spectacular Taroko Gorge National Park, gaining a gruelling 11,000 feet in elevation along route).
So, if you’re ever in Taipei or another Taiwanese city, find yourself a tourist/visitor-centre kiosk, which typically has free cycling maps, and a host of other country biking info and get ready to explore this beautiful island via pedal power!