Spring means winter is over, and it’s time to get outside. Sure, the winter season in Taiwan isn’t super cold, but there are still those days when the weather outside makes you want to do nothing more than wrap yourself in a blanket and watch Netflix. Now that spring is here, that’s all behind us. We’ve got to take advantage of the weather before summer rolls around and it’s too hot to do anything outdoors. Cycling is the perfect spring activity, and Taipei is very cyclist friendly. We’re not just talking about the abundance of YouBikes and designated cycle lanes all around the city for leisurely cycling; we mean the picturesque and enjoyable specialized biking routes for serious bikers that Taipei has to offer.
Shosho Chang is a cyclist from Taiwan, who since quitting his job in the technology industry to pursue his quest to explore the world, has cycled through 29 countries. Now he strives to promote using bicycles in Taiwan, capturing footage of beautiful cycle routes on video in the hope that it will encourage foreign visitors to come to Taiwan and discover just how much of a cycling paradise the island can be. Despite his travels and all the places he’s visited, he firmly believes Taiwan is the most beautiful place in the world. Read on to discover three Taipei cycling routes recommended by the man himself.
BEGINNER Distance: 10 km Average slope grade: < 4% Difficulty: ★★★★★
RIVERSIDE ROUTE: GONGGUAN TO TAIPEI ZOO
Route Gongguan Riverside Plaza ( 公館水岸廣場 ) ➔ Jingmei Riverside Park ( 景美河濱公園 ) ➔ Daonan Riverside Park ( 道南河濱公園 ) ➔ Taipei Zoo
A leisurely ride for beginners or those just looking for a scenic trip along the river, this route is easybreezy, taking you along a popular stretch of Taipei’s flat and easy- to-follow designated riverside cycle paths. You’ll reach Taipei Zoo, passing a couple of Taipei’s delightful riverside parks as you ride, filling your lungs with fresh spring air. Taipei Zoo is one of the largest in Asia, and it houses animals from across Asia, Africa and Australia, including giant pandas from China. Due to the route not being strenuous, we recommend you wear whatever clothes you’re comfortable biking in.
ADVANCED Distance: 12.5 km (5.3 km uphill) Average slope grade: 6% Difficulty: ★★★★★
Route A loop from National Chengchi University ( 政治大學 ) ➔ Maokong Gondola Station ( 貓空纜車貓空站 )
One for slightly more seasoned cyclists, this is a bike ride up into tea country. This looping route will take you from National Chengchi University (NCCU) to Maokong ( 貓空 ) and back again. Following Section 3 of Zhinan Road ( 指南路 ), you’ll turn right at Caonan Bridge ( 草湳橋 ). The part before you reach the bridge will be the hardest with more than 6% of slope grade. So, make sure you have enough supplies before taking off from NCCU.
Once you pass the bridge, the rest will be way easier. Along the way you’ll pass the Taipei Tea Promotion Center for Tie Guanyin Tea and Baozhong Tea ( 台北 市鐵觀音包種茶研發推廣中心 ). From here, you’ll make your way up to Maokong Gondola Station before following Alley 38 of Section 3 of Zhinan Road to eventually make a U-turn at Zhinan Elementary School ( 指南國小 ) and head back to NCCU.
Maokong was once the biggest tea growing area in Taipei. While tea is still produced there, nowadays it is more of a destination for tea culture tourists looking to find out more about Taiwanese tea and the history behind it. If you’re there just for road training, you might want to finish the loop at once. But if you do not mind stopping on the road and getting to know about Maokong, be sure you grab a cup of tea like most college students always do!
CHALLENGE Distance: 22.4 km (< 15.3 km uphill) Average slope grade: 6-10% Difficulty: ★★★★★
FENGGUIZUI “FENG-ZHONG-JIAN” ROUTE
Route From Jiannan Road ( 劍南路 ) ➔ Zhongshe Road ( 中社路 ) ➔ up to Fengguizui ( 風櫃嘴 )
This challenging route can be divided into three parts. The first part will be a warm-up from MRT Jianan Road Station to Section 2 of Zhishan Road ( 至善路 ), which is about 5.2 kilometers with 4% of slope grade. Make sure you stop at Yongquan Temple ( 湧泉寺 ), where you can enjoy the top view of the National Palace Museum.
Start the second part by following Section 2 of Zhishan Road. After passing Waishuangxi Bridge ( 外雙溪橋 ), make a right turn to go on Zhongshe Road, where a bike way is set on the side of the road. Follow the road and make it to Shuangxi Elementary School ( 雙溪國小 ). Take a rest if you need, as the next 1.7 km to the reentry point will be a tougher uphill with 8% of slope grade. The reentry point is at the entrance of Cuishan Hiking trail ( 翠山步道口 ). Give yourself a round of applause before you return to Zhishan Road for the final challenge.
The last part starts from Section 3 of Zhishan Road. Make sure you have enough supplies with you before turning right onto Fenglin Bridge ( 楓林橋 ) to start the testing uphill climb. You’ll ride all the way up to Fengguizui Observation Deck ( 風櫃嘴涼亭 ), which is 8 to 10% of slope grade the whole way (some parts are even more than 10%!). Reward your efforts with a wonderful view of Yangmingshan National Park — a welcome relief for your tired legs.
Fengguizui Route is also known as feng-zhong-jian ( 風中劍 , the Sword in the Wind) route, which is the abbreviation of the three routes in Chinese. Feng ( 風 ) from Fengguizui means “wind;” Zhong ( 中 ) from Zhongshe Road means “in” or “middle;” Jian ( 劍 ) from Jianan Road means “sword.” It’s a perfect summary of this route: Although the challenge lies ahead, be a modest but strong sword in the wind!
WHAT TO PREPARE FOR CYCLING IN TAIPEI DURING SPRING
The average temperature in Taipei during spring is around 20~25°C, which is perfect for cycling. The rainy season will start from late May, though.
What to prepare
A short-sleeve sweatshirt and a light windbreaker will be quite enough for spring. Water is always recommended to keep yourself hydrated. Helmets and sunglasses are suggested too because safe is sexy!
If you’re not bringing your own bike to Taiwan, you can find anything you need at Shosho’s recommended bike stores Mathewbike and Froging Touring Bike. Their services include selling bikes, bike rental, and bike repair and maintenance.
Mathewbike is located in the north of Taipei, closer to the Fengguizui route. Froging Touring Bike is in the south of the city, which is better for those who are going on a Maokong challenge. If it’s just riverside riding you’re after, the YouBike system in Taipei is always available.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for great advice for your bike trip in Taiwan, Shosho’s door is always open for cyclists from around the world.
Mathewbike ( 馬修單車 )
577, Wenlin Rd., Shilin Dist.
Froging Touring Bike ( 蛙不停自行車 )
320, Sec. 6, Roosevelt Rd., Wenshan Dist.
Cycling with ShoSho