TOUR JOURNAL: DAY 8, RUISUI – DONGHE
Blown along the coastal road by a huge tailwind, the Pedal Taiwan riders made incredibly easy work of the 90km ride from Ruisui to Donghe. We even managed to fit in the Baxian Caves and a very windy Sanxiantai Bridge before pulling into Donghe at 4pm – just enough time to grab a quick dip in the Pacific.
Chris MJ – October 30th – 6.41pm
After a fantastic dinner last night, Day 8 started with a filling breakfast at our accommodation – another great little homestay B&B, located in the beautiful rice paddies just outside Ruisui. With a good distance to cover, several sights to see and some early climbing we set off at 8.30am under slightly gloomy skies.Ruisui sits in the heart of the eastern rift valley, so getting to the coast meant we had to climb up over the mountains. In 20km we covered around 600m of climbing, but spread out in several stages across a stunning, winding mountain road. The cyclists had the road pretty much to themselves – in fact we only saw four cars in total, where was everyone?!After just over an hour in the saddle we dropped down towards the coast and the seaside village of Fengbin. It is reportedly a great spot for surfing and we could definitely see why as huge Pacific waves were crashing down in the strong northeast wind.
However, the wind was not just creating spectacular scenes out to sea – it would prove to be our riders’ best friend throughout the remainder of the day. The team were able to average a rapid 35kmph, meaning we arrived at the Baxian Caves ahead of schedule.This meant that we could explore the entire site and climb the 456 steps (Clare I’m sure there were more…) to the top, where the views of the sea were spectacular. The caves aren’t huge, but they do preserve 30,000 years of human occupation and although they’re way above ground now, they were originally carved out by the sea before plate tectonics drove them upwards (top geography for someone like me #topgeog).
We jumped back on the bike with 35km to go before lunch. Our wind-assisted Pedal Taiwanners achieved this is around an hour – amazing progress that meant they pulled into Sanxiantai Bridge just as Rob and I arrived with lunch. We feasted on beef noodle soup, pork dumplings, century eggs, tofu and seaweed before venturing out on to the bridge in the gale force winds.The views were spectacular but wow the wind was strong. It was the kind of wind where glasses fly off and huge waves mean you get sprayed by seawater, even whilst standing 10m above the sea on a bridge designed to look like a dragon.
Fortunately everyone made it back to dry land in one piece and we set off to our home for the night down by the beach in Donghe. Again blown along by the tailwind, progress was incredibly fast and we pulled in before 4pm at our hotel right on the seafront.
And what an awesome hotel. The rooms are huge, the bathtubs are massive and the views over the stormy Pacific are hard to beat – until sunrise tomorrow! I think everyone has their alarms set for 5.59am, I definitely do.After the obligatory cold beer on arrival (with the addition of fresh coconut water), Robin and I braved a dip in the sea, but with the huge waves swimming was very much off the cards. The breakers were incredibly powerful – too powerful in fact as we both ended up stacking it – so a couple of minutes was more than enough! Clare, Jane and Julia’s idea of some yoga was much more civilised and sensible…
It’s long now until we head into the village for a well earned dinner. I believe noodles are on the menu and I’m sure we’ll make the most of the hotel’s great communal area with a few games of cards and a beer or two – tomorrow is a short day after all and the tailwind looks set to stick around!