Our group just completed a 180km ride in two days between Hualien and Taidong, for the second time.
We choose road number 9, the inland road, because it is easier and at least as pretty as the more hilly and remote road No.11 (which we rode during a ride organised in 2009).
We rented bicycles from A-sen in Hualien, nearby the train station (Zhongshan road, No.561, 0931 807 729). The bikes are either Giant River or Merida 670, with slick tires, in size S or M (I’m 186cm and it was kind of ok). They come equipped with just everything: rear rack and bags for the racks so that you don’t need to carry a back pack while riding or attach yours to the bicycle, front and rear lights, bike computer, and a repair kit. It’s 1000 for two days, 1300 for three days. We returned the bike at A-sen’s shop right across the Taidong train station, which was really convenient.
–Hualien: Find your own, it’s easy
–Midway: We chose to stop at a hotspring resort 72km after Hualien. This made the second day longer (110km), but I believed that we would not have been able to cover as many km on the first day (some people were taking a train early in the morning). We stayed at the Hoya Hotspring Resort. It cost us about 1000NTD per person in a 5 person room.
–Taidong: Instead of staying in Taidong, we went immediately over in Dulan, a small village 20km north of Taidong, know for its art scene, old sugar factory, and surf spots. We stayed in Wagaligong, a friendly local hostel that started it (300NTD per night, we had a room for 4 people). If you arrange with them in advance they can come and pick you up at the train station for 600NTD (that’s cheaper than a taxi).
Day 1: Mostly straightforward, not many options to choose from. Around 72km, with enough 7 Eleven. There is a cute bike path along the Nanbin park, just outside Hualien. Also, shortly after that, still on your way out of Hualien, the warehouses have been painted over by local artists, and it can be fun to ride around that area (that’s the little detour we did here).
Day 2: It’s a longer day at 110km, with more elevation. You have options to avoid the hills, some we have tried, some we haven’t. Immediately outside of Ruisui (the town where the hotel is located), you can take the road 193 until the Gaoliao bridge (after Sanmin). Here are the two options (in blue the harder one we took, in grey the easy one we didn’t ride). From the Gaoliao bridge, I strongly suggest you start looking out for bike pathes along the river. They are really charming.
The next bit of hills comes after Dongli station. You have the option of continuing on the road 9, but you can expect hills over the next hour, until Chishang, or you can a flatter detour by the road 75 (two of our group members did it and were quite happy with it).
Once in Chishang, I’d suggest a stop on the rooftop terrace of the No.9 cafe (it’s a bit pricy, but very enjoyable). The next 1h30 are flat, well protected from the wind, and you can push very high average speeds (30-35km/hr on a big bike). After Ruihe comes the last section of the trip, where you have to go through the mountains north of Taidong. It is not particularly hard, but expect to spend 1 to 2 hours going across. You could try and follow the train line and stay down in the valley to avoid the hills, but I am not sure of the conditions of the roads after Shanli. We did the Chishang-Taidong section (50km) in less than 3 hours.
Photos (yes, it is that gorgeous)