Saturday, December 25, 2010

*Creak* Letting some light in...

I've decided to re-open this blog over the next couple of months. So let's let a little light into this place with some pics from my ride last week up in Miaoli, the county north of Taichung city where I live.

Cycling has become a kind of national sport in Taiwan, one that blends the emerging concepts of green leisure and sustainable lifestyle -- here in Taiwan marketed as a consumer ideal rather than a philosophy for living -- and Taiwan's industrial prowess. The island is a world center of bike manufacturing, and within 30 kms of my house are some of the most important component and frame makers on earth.

Looking northeast out of the town of Shihgang toward the central mountain range.

Orange groves. The mountains outside of Taichung city in central Taiwan are important fruit growing regions.

The Dajia River, looking east toward Dongshih.

Egrets are a common sight in Taiwan's waterways.

Me with the Liyu Reservoir behind me. The ridge I'm resting on is at about 400 meters above sea level.

Winter means the reservoir is at a low level.

Rolling down Route 3 to Miaoli County Route 130.

When we do 130 we always stop here for snacks and drinks.

130 is characterized by lovely views and steep 10-13% grades. Taiwan's mountainous areas are among the steepest in the world.

A colony of spiders.

A mother guards her brood.

Bamboo marches along the road.

Looking south towards Jhuolan, the wine grape region, and Hsinshe, the mushroom producing center of the area.

I'm a slow climber. It takes me about forty minutes of climbing to reach the top.

The restaurant where I'm eating lunch awaits me on the left, perched by the side of the road.

Because of the excellent views and mountain foods and temples, there is a steady trickle of tourists and as a result, infrastructure to serve them. Here I stop at the Mile High Cafe.

Hakka-style cooking is the specialty of the place.

The bike takes a break.



Nothing like lunch with a view.

The restaurant is well positioned just below the top of the ridge, which rises to about 800 meters.

Up at the top on a Saturday there's a respectable flow of day-trippers enjoying the good weather and the local festival.

In Taiwan, wherever people gather, so do vendors.

Enjoyable views from the summit.

The descent is wonderful.

Abandoned buildings are a common sight on Taiwan roads.

Like many roads in Taiwan, this one follows a river valley downhill.

It runs past local farms and restaurants catering to tourists.

From there I turn onto a much smaller road to the famous old collapsed Japanese-era railroad viaduct.

Bucolic scenery.

I have many pics of this ruin from previous rides through the area; here's an old one.

After the railroad viaduct the road climbs a small ridge, then falls into a peaceful little valley whose opening is crossed by the modern railroad bridge.

Never mind what they say; Taiwan's national sport is fishing.

Rolling through the valley, I leave the lovely part of the ride and get back on the crowded, noisy, four lane roads home....