Day 6: Taitung - Dawu : The coastline route 9
We packed our stuff and set off to a local Giant bike shop nearby to get my buddy’s bike checked. His bike started making strange noise after the fall out on route 197 and it doesn’t sound good. We stayed there for bit and chatted with the mechanic. He was really friendly and we chatted about the trip, what lies on the route ahead and also where he usually goes for a ride. He was quite surprised that we went through the unpaved route 197, as he said usually even locals avoid going through that stretch. The mechanic did a little tune up on the bikes and off we go on our way.
For this part of the trip we are going to cycle down the coast route 9. The feel of this route is very much like California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1. It is a good change of scenery from mountain and farms to ocean side view. On this route the roads are mostly flat besides one section of climb. I notice that I became more aware of saddle sore, because the route is mostly flat on this part of the trip. Maybe it is also due to the fact that this is the first time that I’ve had to cycle everyday with this kind of mileage. Despite wearing cycling shorts, saddle sore is real. I had to stand up and adjust my sitting position to alleviate the annoying pain from time to time.
We stopped by 7eleven for lunch before hitting the climb. Food of choice varies from day to day and today I decided to get some noodles with beef and a vitamin C drink. The weather is really hot today and a good dose of vitamin c never hurts. Also its always good to stock up beverage before leaving the store. The climb wasn’t too bad, it is quite steep but not a long long climb. There are several road constructions along the way and sometimes the busses passing by can fly by a little too close at times since they take up more space than regular cars. In general car drivers are very nice to cyclist.
Dawu is well known for hot spring resorts. Unfortunately, it is higher up inland towards the mountain area and we didn’t have time to go there. Besides the weather is quite hot, so hot spring wasn’t a big thing in our list. The food option is here is pretty limited, we tried a seafood restaurant across our hotel. But it seems like the owner has no interest in running the business because the service and attitude was more like I don’t really care and the restaurant is empty and it almost looked like it was close. Food was on the expensive side as the restaurant bill came up to around 1000 NTD and the food was really below average at best, probably because the ingredients were not that fresh. We decided to get more food in 7-11 next to our hotel instead. For about 150 NTD per person, we manage to get dinner with a variety of snacks and beverages.
Day 7: Dawu - Xuhai: Hot Spring: mountain roads/hills
Today’s route is only about 40km, however it involves 3 back to back major climbs with some headwind to boot. Sometimes I even feel like there is a little flatter or slight decline on certain sections that turns out to be a slight incline instead. I think once you are on a climb for so long, slight gradient of the slope becomes a blur making me think that its flat when its actually still an incline but with less dramatic gradient. This caused me some issues when choosing gears because I went for a higher gear and turned out I should’ve stayed in the lower gear. Long climbs are quite mentally challenging. At one end I feel like the bike is going too slow with high cadence, so I had to play around with the gear settings several times. But if I go at the speed that I feel is right, somehow I can’t seem to find the balance between speed and cadence at times and burn out my legs fast.
About midway through the climbs, we decided to rendezvouz at a temple on top of the hill. This temple is popular amongst locals and outsiders alike. Many drive up here from neighboring cities to pay their respects to their ancestors and also pray. The temple is very well maintained and it also serve as a very nice resting area. The temple overlook the valleys and rolling hills of the country side. We took a break here to eat our lunch and a little rest before continuing on our journey. I definitely recommend visitors to stop here to check out the view. While resting there are also a few groups of cyclists that pass by the area, some even stopped by and chatted with us for a little.
We continued on to route 199 from route 9 into some more mountain roads and farmlands. On this particular route we met so many cyclist along the way, some are doing cycling tour like us. The best part about this route is making the switch from 199 to 199-jia, because this stretch of endless empty cornering heaven combined with the oceanside view makes the exhausting, tough and long climbs worthwhile. It is truly one of my favorite path from this trip.
We reached Xuhai late afternoon around 4:30pm. We passed by a few hot springs resort before reaching our housing for the night. We also got a free upgrade to a bigger room from our host as it is currently slow season. The room has 2 king size beds, a bathroom and a private hot spring room. Yes, a private hot spring room inside our room! Definitely feels good after a long day of cycling. Dinner was all you can eat, and we shared the food with the host's family. They cook in large batches for everyone staying there and the food was quite delicious.