Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yingge (鶯歌) - Southwest Taipei County

My ride this morning focused on going southwest of Xindian/Taipei to the far reaches of Taipei County. I've taken Rte. 110 southwest out of Xindian before, and after a few hairy miles of urban riding, it turned into pleasant countryside riding, which in a small country like Taiwan, means still having to deal with a certain amount of car traffic.

Rte. 110 is pleasant, but hardly picturesque. Out of the big cities, Taiwan has a lot of old, run-down, ugly little towns.

Anyway, to get to Rte. 110, I rode down Beixin Road through Xindian (Xindian's continuation of Taipei's Roosevelt Road), and then turned right to cross the Bitan Bridge over the Xindian River. That's Rte. 110, and just head west on that main road.

Rte. 110 eventually leaves Xindian Township and enters Sanxia Township without any fanfare, and Rte. 110 eventually ends with an option to turn left or right on Rte. 3. The previous time I rode Rte. 110, I turned right and Rte. 3 took me through Tucheng and probably to Banciao where I followed signs back to Xindian on Rte. 106.

Today I turned left, followed Rte. 3 for a bit, and then looked for the Rte. 110 continuation, turning right. The road goes over a bridge and through Sanxia City, which was actually very nice; clean and modern looking.

A bridge takes Rte. 110 over the Dahan River, out of Sanxia and into Yingge, which is apparently Taiwan's ceramics center. It's a tiny town on the western border of Taipei County. It looked interesting in an old, dilapidated way, and I think a return visit is warranted to look around that area.

Following signs, I took Rte. 110 and turned right onto Rte. 114, noting that the turn happens before railroad tracks. So I knew if I hit railroad tracks, I missed my turn. Fortunately, it was marked, and I headed north on Rte. 114, parallel to the railroad tracks.

Actually, I was headed for Banciao because today was Car Free Day, and there was going to be a mass bike ride from Banciao to Taipei City Hall at 8:00. So I headed north on Rte. 114, looking for Rte. 116 to turn right, back over two bridges over the Dahan River, and into Banciao. From there I turned left on Rte. 3 until I found the mass gathering of cyclists.

Taipei's Car Free Day was nothing to write home about. It seemed mostly like a political feel-good event enabling politicians to point out how green Taipei is, but there was little promotion of the concept or urging people to get out of their cars to see what it was like to have a day without cars.

Cyclists had their fun event, drivers had a little inconvenience that they could forget about the next day. I didn't complete the ride. I took it into Taipei and then just went home.

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