The plan for today had been a 125km ride from An-Tong to Hualien. With 1,139 metres of elevation thrown in just for fun.
Pai modified that plan into something less ambitious. We would instead drive part of the way and then ride.
While Xiao Ger adjusted bikes we all got suited up.
Except for TH, who didn’t think it would be comfortable to drive for hours wearing bib shorts.
We left the An-Tong Hot Spring Hotel fairly late. When we reached Hualien City 90km away it was time for lunch. This is the front window display at our chosen restaurant.
The R@SKLs can eat. The dish at the top is the specialty of the house. I’ll leave it to you to guess what it is.
Well-fed and happy!
The entrance to Taroko National Park is thirty minutes from Hualien City. The Arch of Taroko at the Taroko Gorge marks the start of the climb up Wuling Mountain. With 3,500 metres of vertical gain in less than 80km, it is one tough climb.
The view up Taroko Gorge.
There are things to see on the ground as well.
We hopped back into our vans and drove to the coast. 10km later we were looking at this.
There was one “must visit” destination for some of the R@SKLs. The Kavalan distillery in Yuanshan. Taiwan’s first whiskey maker. As it turned out, the Kavalan distillery was a long 95km north.
There was a lot of traffic on Route 9. The slow driving conditions were made worse by roadworks where only one lane was open, necessitating long waits for your turn through the one-way section.
Work was being done to shore up the rock faces on the land side of the road. We were lucky to have been on that road on Friday. There was a landslide the next day which closed the road.
We saw some touring cyclists earlier in the day. They wouldn’t be on Route 9 north of Suhua Township. The tunnels are so narrow that bicycles are not allowed.
Ah Dar stayed in good spirits while driving the van despite the slow going.
We were too late for the tour when we got to the Kavalan distillery.
But not too late for a quick sample taste and to buy out half the distillery shop. There were some overweight bags at the airport when it was time to leave Taiwan!
Long before we reached the distillery we had resigned ourselves to not riding on this day. To his credit, TH wasn’t too smug about not wearing his cycling kit.
We decided to eat dinner near the distillery to avoid the Friday evening rush hour in Taipei. Funnily enough, we were starving, despite just sitting in a van for most of the day.
Goose was the specialty of the restaurant we ate at. I can assure you that we ate more than just goose.
Our first task after checking in at the Golden China Hotel in Taipei was to retrieve our bike cases from the hotel’s basement storage. The bike cases had been delivered to the hotel direct from Taoyuan Airport.
After a shower, the more energetic in the group went to the Shilin Night Market. One of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan, especially when it comes to food.
I didn’t ask Heng Keng, Mark, Luanne, or Lay what they thought of the WOW Frog eggs!