Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ping Xi 平溪 completed ride

This morning I headed east on Rte. 106 to complete that ride to Ping Xi that I abandoned a few weeks back. It was supposed to be an easy ride out to as far as Shifen and then back. I must have noted on the map that Rte. 106 continues on, but it ends out near Keelung, and I didn't think I could ride that far.

So the ride out to Ping Xi and then Shifen was nice, and as easy as before with mild climbing. It was a clear sunny morning and the mountain views were just gorgeous. I think for views in Taiwan, nothing beats mountain riding.

But then at some point in Shifen, I saw a map and finishing off 106 seemed doable, and just returning back on 106 seemed unsatisfying. Continuing on 106 beckoned invitingly, and I don't think I thought too much about it before continuing on.

I did get a sense that 106 heading north out of Shifen meant climbing, but I felt I could handle it, even though I hadn't eaten anything and hadn't seen any places to grab something to eat. And I was right, it was a lot of climbing out of Shifen, but not leg-busting like out of Pinglin.

I never went down to my granny gear, although I was tempted once or twice, and looking ahead at mountains I would probably have to climb was never daunting or discouraging. The climb topped off at over 1800', and I saw it coming, and no more climbing beyond that. It was perfect to be right (for once).

The downhill towards Keelung had great views of the Pacific Ocean, with tankers off shore. At the end of Rte. 106, I turned left on Rte. 2丁, but was almost disoriented since this part of the ride wasn't planned. I just knew generally to head west back into Taipei, and I also found that I was riding along the Keelung River, which curiously doesn't drain into the Pacific Ocean at Keelung, but flows all the way back into Taipei before joining the Danshui into the Taiwan Straits.

So I thought as long as I kept abreast of the river (and was right about it), I would end up back in Taipei. Also there was a rail line and what looked like a National Highway, which would have been National Highway 1, connecting Keelung and Taipei. All of these things pointed towards Taipei, so I thought I shouldn't have any problem.

The only thing I didn't know was how far away Taipei was. I was under the impression Keelung was like at least 20 miles from Taipei, which meant a pretty exhausting ride, only mitigated by knowing there was no climbing between Taipei and Keelung.

But I was wrong. There's only one town between Taipei and Keelung, and within a reasonable distance, I started seeing signs for Taipei at 8km. To be fair though, from getting on Rte. 5 in Keelung to getting home in Xindian was about 20 miles, so I'm not saying the ride was a walk in the park.

And that 8km to Taipei, was to the Taipei border, so there was all of east Taipei to go through, all ratty urban riding. In the end, the ride turned out to be my longest ride in Taiwan, and even in San Francisco, I think I only did one ride that was longer. The actual ride was 57 miles, but my total riding for the day was 100km. Not bad. If I'm setting my sights on riding around the island before heading back to the U.S., these kinds of distances will be necessary.

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