Saturday, September 08, 2007

Yangmingshan - 陽明山

Well, I've had my road bike for almost two months, it's about time I tried climbing Yangmingshan, the highest peak in the Taipei area. I did try climbing it before on my $15 second-hand beater bike, and that didn't go so well, a futile attempt. At least I knew when to quit, lock up the bike, and take the bus the rest of the way up!

That time, I got off the bus at the terminal, which was supposed to be at the visitor's center, but it wasn't like a National Park visitor center in the U.S.. I couldn't find an accurate map to get a feel for the park and where to go. That area just seemed like anywhere else in Taipei with shops, too much traffic and too many people.

Today, I rode up Yangmingshan on the main road, Yangde Blvd., from Shilin, after a nine mile ride there from Hsindian, taking the most direct way on Roosevelt and Zhongshan Roads.

The first stages of Yangde Blvd. aren't hard, although I was surprised to see how far up I got on my beater bike before. This time I checked out the area of Chinese Cultural University, which I rode past before on bus when I abandoned the climb on the beater. I was there 10 years ago when I went out with Josephine and she took me there because that was her school.

I found the lookout that I still have photos from. It was neat because 10 years ago I didn't know Taipei at all. This time when I got to the lookout, I could look out and see all places I now know.

10 years ago:


Aside from the wall, the distinctive similar feature is the rivers, where the Keelung River flows into the Danshui.

Going back to the main road and continuing on, Yangde Blvd. is now Gezhi Road, which then becomes Yangming Road. The road comes to a T intersection where you should turn left, and you shortly reach the area where the bus terminal is.

From there, I'm not sure how I found my way. I think I just stayed on what looked like the "main" road, but I traveled what was essentially a loop road through Yangmingshan National Park. There was a sign to Beitou that I didn't take, but which I want to try someday to find out how to get to Yangmingshan through Beitou.

Otherwise I do know I was following the route of a shuttle bus around Yangmingshan, although foolishly for the purposes of this blog, I neglected to get the number of the shuttle. I also stopped at various shuttle stops to get my bearing, because sometimes they have maps at the stops.

The first part of the loop is a lot of arduous climbing which tops off at 3000'. The only tricky part of the ride is coming down the first long downhill. The road naturally makes a sharp left curve, continuing down, but if you take that road, you'll end up in Jinshan, on the wrong side of Yangmingshan.

At the point where the road changes direction, there's a road spurring off to the right, a steep uphill, so it's unattractive, but that's the road that continues the loop back to the Taipei side of Yangmingshan. And wisely, for the purposes of this blog, I did take a picture of that intersection:

I was fortunate when I stopped to figure out which way to go, because a shuttle bus came by and turned right there, so I knew that was the way to go. But it did mean more climbing.

After the more climbing, there's a pretty crazy downhill, much of which I don't remember because I was racing an idiot BMW driver that I had to force my way past, because he had no concept of cyclists going faster than cars on downhills and the courteous and safe thing to do is let them pass.

I think there was a turn I missed somewhere, it may have been a T intersection, because when I got back to a familiar street, I was back on Yangde Blvd., a bit down from the bus terminal-visitor center area, and I think the way I didn't take would have led back to that area.

In any case, from there it was all downhill to Taipei proper. There are several variations of the ride I want to try in the future. I want to take the road down to Beitou, which happens before the serious climbing starts. Oh yea, the climb to the bus terminal-visitor center is no big deal, only about up to 1200'. But another variation is far up the climb, there's a road that is Rte. 101申, or Bailaka Rd. on some maps. It looks like that road comes down to the north coast of Taiwan, not too far from Danshui. That would mean a pretty far return trip, but I want to try it sometime.

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