Glimpsing Taoyuan from the Saddle

It was a ride that I didn’t really think would turn out the way it did. Like most of my biking adventures, I discovered another happy accident this time by way of Dahan river. My initial plan was to bike from Dadaocheng wharf to Xindian and back. The entire ride would take around 3 1/2 hours on the saddle.

But halfway through the ride going to Xindian, I got interested to try one of those bike bridges that I often see rainbowed along its path. I decided to try one and before I knew it, I was crossing another bridge, biking on that bridge’s sidewalk over the Xindian river, and then I found myself somewhere in Huajiang wharf.

In the end, this bike trip totaled to around 8 hours (two-way) including the quick-minute breaks I took to either eat, drink, or rest my butt off the saddle.

I give props to Taipei for initiating a massive bike path that stretches on to New Taipei City and is relatively convenient. I have now discovered that the intricate bike paths lining the Tamsui and Keelung river are also efficiently connected with each other, providing safe bike lanes that cater to leisure and distance biking.

And I must say distance biking is so damn addictive.

While eating lunch (hotdog sandwich) at Huajiang wharf, I consulted my handy battered Taipei map and saw that if I continued west I could most probably reach Taoyuan. So I decided to take on the bike path and see if I can manage to cross a bridge that could bring me closer to Taoyuan.

The adventure officially starts here.

So I rode on while the sun shone brightly on a winter day. Biking in winter is really fun especially if the sun is out. The temperature was about 19 to 20 degrees but it wasn’t freezing my hands on the handlebars.

It was also easier for me to time my pedaling and catch my breath because the weather wasn’t too warm which sort of adds to the exhaustion. Also, I didn’t have to consume too many water since I don’t thirst easily.

Aside from biking steadily, I was also able to put some of my energy into taking in the sights before me and taking as much photos as I can.

The Huajing wharf bike path was longer than I expected. It didn’t have the usual riverside scenery that I was used to. But in place of that, there’s quite a lot of recreational areas along the path like baseball parks, basketball and tennis courts, as well as football parks as I eventually reached Sijhou sports park.

People also rode skateboards and rollerblades on the bike path. It was a very active place to be in and would have been perfect if you wanted to play sport aside from biking.

Didn’t get to take photos of the playing fields in Sijhou sports park but it had plenty of massive green areas that stretch out like this. Maybe they would eventually be converted to a football or baseball field…

While biking, I decided to closely monitor the distance markers to make sure I don’t miss the bridge that would bring me closer to Taoyuan.

The idea is that I needed to get myself somewhere to Sanchong and from there, ride along the sides of Dahan river until I cross over to Taoyuan. It took me around an hour or so to finally reach Chongcui bridge and was a bit intimidated that the bridge is going to be an elevated one and would eventually lead to a freeway.

Am I really ready for this?

But upon seeing that freeway after that bike bridge, all my fears and uncertainties got swept away by excitement.

It was the first time that I will cross a highway bridge on a bike and man oh man, the Dahan river’s picturesque view from there is something that I will never get if I only rode along the bike paths.

It was a pretty amazing moment. The photos can only capture about half of how exhilirating the view was. Even though I have been riding for quite some time along these riverside paths, I still get amazed when I realize how the natural scenes just complement the modern urban cityscape that is Taipei, even New Taipei City.

It also baffles me how clear the horizons are that even if there was probably smog somewhere in the horizon it’s just not enough to spoil the spectacular view before me.

So I rode on becoming more and more excited with the possibility of finally reaching Taoyuan. I just got a little confused at first where to get off because I didn’t see any bike ramps rather just a set of stairs going down the bike path beside the other side of Dahan river.

Seeing that there’s no other way but down those stairs, I decided that I would just carry my bike while descending and went back to it. When I went back, I saw that the stairs actually serves a dual-purpose. It’s equipped with a small ramp where you can roll your bike down or upwards as you walk on the stairs.

The left bank of Dahan was so amazing. To date, it’s my most favorite bike path because of this amazing site that you’ll see throughout the ride: mountains shadowing each other on the background, fields of green accentuating the view, a river flowing placidly in the middle, an embellishment of rocky formations, and a cityscape caught in between all these wonderful natural backdrop.

Sometimes, it’s not about the camera. It’s just about the view and letting it speak for itself.

I rode on, forgetting how many hours I’ve been on the saddle and still keeping track of the kilometers I’ve been covering. Somewhere along the way, I decided to stick to this map and just focus on getting to its end because it’s supposedly a path from Sanchong (Taipei) to Taoyuan and back.

The red mark on the lower left side of this photo was my current location.

I’ve stopped briefly to capture some photos. I also got interested when I heard cars zoom by on what seemed to be a race track somewhere. As I stopped and went to where the crowd is, I happened on to this car track. It was another first, seeing an actual car race happen before my very eyes.

Cars zoomed by, trying to outspeed each other.

And soon enough, another batch has to be flagged.

Yes, it was a car race–a Formula One racing that’s done remote control style. 🙂

After spending a few minutes watching the remote cars go fast and furious against each other, I decided to move on. The clock ticked 4PM and I was afraid that the sun might set without me reaching Taoyuan. I don’t really plan to press on when dusk starts to settle because it’s Sunday, I have work tomorrow, and I don’t really know what to expect for me to bike in the dark.

As the kilometers piled up, reaching 20, the view on my left side started becoming less urban and more naturally built.

I had to stop at this point because of the bedrock that rose from beneath Dahan river around this area.

After taking in that natural boost, I pedalled ahead. Minutes ticked by and soon enough I reached the final marker. Finally, the map no longer indicated that I was somewhere on the trail between Sanchong and Taoyuan.

I could only assume that I was at Taoyuan but decided to press on. Then I happened on to this street which was sort of dangerous because it’s got a lot of blind sides and doesn’t have a particular bike lane yet the road is supposedly two-way.

The bike’s position is quite a telling sign of what might happen if you weren’t careful…

Too bad I cannot read Chinese, but seeing these posts were enough for me that day. I think I did reach Taoyuan. I just decided to take pictures and showed them to my colleague the following day.

According to her I may have reached Taoyuan and the post simply states that if I went further ahead I would reach a bike path on Taoyuan. It also showed some place’s name but she wasn’t that familiar with it.

Anyway, I decided to go back when I saw these signs. Also, my clock read past 6PM and dusk is starting to set in. I really needed to get back while I’m still pumped with adrenaline. After all, I needed to cover another 24 kilometers and that’s just going to lead me back to Sanchong.

Back to the bridge and over Huajiang and almost half of Dadaocheng wharf is another story and of course, an additional 10 kilometers (or more) to consider. My water’s just a liter left, I only have two small packs of biscuit in my backpack, and I’m not sure I’ll find a food store anywhere nearby.

With that, I officially marked this adventure done. For now.


Goodbye, Taoyuan.

I’ll definitely see you again.

Soon. 😉

2 Comments on "Glimpsing Taoyuan from the Saddle"

  1. Ako rin! Nung una nagtataka ako kung bakit yung mga ibang bikers bumababa dun. Akala ko nagtyatyaga lang silang buhatin yung bike nila. Yun pala, mini bike bridge sya. 😀 I hope you can visit her next year, sama mo family mo or si Aya! Then let's bike. Mura naman ang rentals dito. 🙂


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