TOUR JOURNAL: DAY 6, HUALIEN REST DAY

Day 6 was billed as our midway rest day after two gruelling days in the mountains – a chance to recharge the batteries and refuel on Hualien’s famous cuisine. However with June arriving fresh from the UK and the Pedal Taiwan cyclists keen to jump back on the saddle, we took in 49km hot but beautiful kilometres looping around Hualien.

Chris MJ – October 28th – 4.54pm

With our bellies full of last night’s awesome fried chicken (it definitely is up there with the world’s best to answer yesterday’s question…), Day 6 started with a bit of a lie in and breakfast at 8.30am. The sleep was definitely welcome, as was the brekkie of bacon and eggs!

Everyone came down in cycling gear – myself included for the first time – as the whole group took up the option of a gentle spin around Hualien. The sun was out and even by 9.30am the sun was strong and the temperature was rising to almost 30C. But once we set off, a cooling breeze certainly helped, as did the backdrop of the towering mountains inland.We gently pedalled through rice paddies, fields of taro plants and dragon fruit plantations, all on beautifully smooth and deserted back roads and cycle lanes. We pressed on, sticking together as a tight-knit group as Liyu Lake approached and the only climb of the day came into view. It was only 100m so small fry for our seasoned mountain pros, but even this mere pimple had me puffing by the top – my respect for the team has risen even further!

Liyu Lake proved to be an awesome place to stop. People took the opportunity to cool off and take a dip in the cool waters and have a swim, the perfect thing to do after a hot and sweaty ride. Rob bought along his favourite mid-morning snacks of pork pies (Taiwan style – with lots of green onion and a light dough) and taro cake – covered in a secret but delicious soy-based sauce.After stopping for an hour or so, we headed around the far side of the lake on a fantastically smooth cycle route. So when June’s front tyre (Robin note the spelling) popped, it was a huge surprise! But after a quick change – thanks again Phil – we were back on the road and riding east towards the rift valley and the coast. Just under 20km of flat group riding later we had reached our spot for lunch.

We took a short 10-minute walk uphill through lush forest – past some of the biggest spiders we’d ever seen – to a stunning viewpoint overlooking Hualien, The Pacific and the mountains inland. After taking in the scenery it was time to jump back on the bike for the final 10km back to the B&B.Instead of riding along the road we stuck as near to the sea as possible and cruised along the coastal cycle path back into Hualien for 3.30pm. A cold beer outside the B&B was waiting for us, which felt pretty early for a drink, but who could say no to a cold beer after a day of riding?

An evening exploring Haulien’s huge night market awaits. We’ll be eating as much as a we can and trying as many different foods (the weirder the better) as possible. A full report to follow tomorrow – that’s if we can wake up after eating so much…!



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