Cycling in Taiwan —Saddle Up and Make the Scene


2017 / April

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Scott Williams

People have very different takes on travel: some like to squeeze in as much as possible, while others like to take it easy. But traveling by bus or train means following a route chosen by someone else. If you want to regain your autonomy as a traveler, try cycling, which lets you choose your route, pace, and departure times for yourself. While cyclists have a variety of reasons for taking to the road, they have at least one thing in common: the personalized pace and topography of each of their journeys provide them with scenery and experiences all their own.

Taiwan is home to many different terrains, ranging from the plains and sandy beaches of the western part of the island, to the rugged Central Mountain Range, and on to the Hua­lien‡Tai­tung Rift Valley and deep blue seas of the east. All of these lovely landscapes also change their look with every season, making our little island a wonderful place to explore over and over again.

Will-powered scenery

In 2015 the Ministry of Transportation and Communications completed Cycling Route No. 1, which links cycle trails and on-highway bicycle routes around Taiwan into a connected route, complete with bike repair points and rest and refreshment stops, that makes it even easier for riders to make a circuit of the island.   

County Highway 193, which runs 110 kilometers through Hualien County, from Xin­cheng in the north, through Ji’an and Shou­feng, and all the way down to Yuli in the south, is Taiwan’s most revered cycling route. The 23.5-km stretch from Rui­sui to Yuli, known as the Lede Highway, is particularly scenic. It runs between the Coastal Mountain Range and the Xiu­gu­luan River, passing by rice paddies, amid singing birds, and surrounded by flowers that bloom in every season, such as those of the golden rain tree and the royal poinciana.

Bike routes like this highlight the best of Taiwan’s gorgeous scenery. Riders cycling them get to enjoy the feeling of the wind on their faces and the mingled scents of rain and sweat as they travel. Even more importantly, they also get to interact with locals, whose smiles and shouts of encouragement add depth to the cycling experience.

Holger and Dietmar are German engineers who much prefer the sensory immediacy of cycling to travel in closed-up motor vehicles. They make cycling tours of islands around the world every year, and this year have come to Taiwan to explore our highways and byways and enjoy sights such as the sunset at Fang­shan and the sea at Duo­liang.

Mikiwasa Ku­ma­zawa was inspired to make his own bicycle circuit of Taiwan by a Japanese television program showing the golden rice paddies, open landscapes and unspoiled culture of Taiwan’s Hua­lien‡Tai­tung area, and the many island-circuiting cyclists and scenery-­loving tourists who visit it. The 68-year-old Ku­ma­zawa says he hasn’t ridden a bicycle since his middle-school days, more than 50 years ago. He admits that doing so now is tough—his palms, shoulders, and neck all hurt—but says that the gorgeous scenery is worth the price in pain.

A landscape of the spirit

Huang Ting Ying, who represented Taiwan in cycling at the Rio Olympics, comes from a family of athletes. Originally a swimmer, she got into cycling while in the sixth grade, when her school disbanded its swim team and Kao­hsiung Municipal Nan­zih Junior High School cycling coach Yang Dong­zhen, a friend of her mother’s, started bringing her along for rides with his team ­instead.

Huang’s talent became clear when she began competing in international competitions as a middle-school student. She started her career as a sprinter relying on speed and explosiveness, but switched to intermediate and long-distance road races in an effort to break away from the pack.

Huang has enjoyed a measure of international success. She finished second overall in the 2016 Tour of Chong­ming Island World Cup, winning the race’s first and third stages and earning the nickname “pink cannonball” for her explosiveness. That performance propelled her into the international professional cycling limelight, and gained her a place on Italy’s Servetto Footon women’s professional cycling team.

Huang went on to compete in the Giro d’Italia Femminile later last year, and was the first Taiwanese woman to complete the race, a grueling event whose winding roads and long climbs force many racers to give up. She plans to continue racing internationally, taking in the world’s most beautiful scenery from the saddle of her bike.

Downhill mountain biking queen Penny Chou has chosen to push her limits in cross-country mountain biking competitions. Originally a successful track athlete, Chou switched to field events at the urging of her coach, but never developed a passion for them. Unable to compete as well as she wanted, she took a teammate’s advice and gave mountain biking a try. The decision marked a turning point in her athletic career. Riding through nature, constantly pushing her limits as she cycled up and down mountain slopes, the athletic Chou found a sport that enabled her to realize her potential.

Chou qualified for last year’s Asian Mountain Bike Continental Championships, but had to withdraw after tearing a ligament in her right ankle while training. But the injury hasn’t affected her passion for cycling in the least. She jokes that she’ll keep riding until she’s physically incapable of pedaling any longer.

A cycling life

It isn’t just competitive athletes who have taken up cycling. Bike Family’s ­Huang Jin­bao is a former steel worker who took up cycling when his doctor recommended it to help rehabilitate years of occupational injuries. He may have started cycling as therapy, but he soon found himself on a surprising new path, taking his wife and children on bicycle circuits of Taiwan and Europe, and then a 400-day cycling trip around the world. Unable to stop cycling, he then founded Bike Family, a company that helps people realize their dreams of cycling around Taiwan.

Huang says he enjoys the way that the scenery changes with every season, but his main motivation for leading cycling tours is the riders in each group. He recalls one group that made a point of praying in every temple, large or small, that they passed on their nine-day island circuit. He was deeply moved when they told him why: they had a female friend who was ill, and they wanted to send blessings her way.

Bike Family’s tour groups include cyclists from all over the world, including Germany, Korea, and Japan. Though the riders begin their trips as strangers, a few days on the road together gets them sharing their cultures and experiences in spite of language barriers. They also encourage one another while in the saddle, enjoying both the beauty of the scenery and the warmth of Taiwan’s people.

No brakes!

Fixed-gear bicycles, or “fixies,” are an important part of bicycling messenger culture abroad and have become a distinctive feature of the urban terrain. The bikes are named for their single gear with no freewheel, a feature that enables riders to do some unusual tricks with them, like riding backwards or spinning the handlebars. They are also simple to build, which enables fans to build custom bikes using their preferred parts, even down to color-matching the screws. They are particularly popular among young people because they make it easy for riders to flaunt their personal style. “Most people ride fixies because they look cool,” says Xie ­Weida, head of Fixed Style, a Tai­pei fixie club.

Xie caught his first glimpse of fixies in 2010. Drawn to their look, he soon dipped his toes into the fixie world. In those days, most of the groups riding fixies together were affiliated with particular bike shops. If you hadn’t built your bike at a group’s shop, you weren’t welcome to join the group. So Xie recruited friends to ride together, initially persuading about ten friends to join him. He then created a fixie-oriented Facebook group, using pictures and videos to raise its profile and grow its membership. Nowadays, his Facebook group has more than 20,000 followers. 

Fixed Style is the first fixie club in Tai­pei that isn’t tied to a particular shop or type of bike. Its goal is to create a friendly group riding environment that enables cyclists to enjoy their fixies together. Though fixie-focused, its Friday gatherings in Tai­pei’s Xi­men­ding area also include many riders of road bikes and You­Bike rental bikes. Most fixie riders personalize their bikes with customized paint jobs and other decorations, style themselves with great care, and compete among themselves to show off their skills, making their gatherings fascinating viewing for even casual observers. The group also organizes an annual Halloween ride that attracts more than 100 costume-wearing cyclists, creating even more of a spectacle.

No matter what your motivation, it’s time to saddle up and make the scene!                        

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文・陳群芳 写真・莊坤儒 翻訳・山口 雪菜


























最近は、海外のメッセンジャーが乗るブレーキのない固定ギアのピストバイク(フィクシー)を台湾でもよく見かけるようになった。固定ギアのため、さまざまなテクニックが楽しめ、フレームやハンドル、ネジなども好みで組み合わせられ、ストリートの文化となっている。「大部分の人はカッコいいという理由でフィクシーに乗っています」とFixed Styleクラブの謝偉達は言う。


Fixed Styleは台北初の、ショップや車種を限定しないピストバイクの団体で、毎週金曜日には台北西門町で夜間のサイクリングを行なっており、Ubikeの人も参加する。ハロウィーンの仮装イベントには100人以上が集まる。ピストバイクの乗り手は車体のペイントなどにも凝って、おしゃれをしているので、サイクリングをして景色を楽しむのと同時に、周囲の人も彼らのテクニックや個性的なスタイルを観賞することができる。


單車上路 踩踏人生風景

文‧陳群芳 圖‧莊坤儒 翻譯‧Scott Williams

















2016年環崇明島世界女子公路巡迴賽,黃亭茵一身粉紅穿越終點線,擊敗眾選手,以黑馬之姿拿下第一、三站冠軍和總亞軍,因此贏得「粉紅小鋼砲」之稱,也將自己送上國際職業自由車隊的舞台,加入義大利Servetto Footon女子職業車隊。躍上國際舞台,等在眼前的是考驗心智、耐力的嚴苛挑戰。













近年來崛起,源自國外快遞文化的單速車,則讓人在擁擠的車陣中穿梭,成為都市特殊的風景。由於單速車固定齒輪的動力特性,讓單速車發展出倒騎、轉把等騎乘招式,加上單速車構造簡單,可依個人喜好挑選車架、手把、螺絲配色展現個人風格,在年輕族群間掀起風潮,成為一種街頭文化,「大部分的人都是因為耍酷,所以來騎單速車的。」FIXED STYLE單速車社團社長謝偉達說。


FIXED STYLE是台北第一個不分車店、車種的單速車社團,旨在營造友善的團騎環境,讓剛接觸單速車的新手,能收集資訊與認識同好,一起體驗單速車的騎乘樂趣。每周五固定在台北西門町集合舉辦的夜騎活動,除了單速車,也有很多人會騎著Ubike、公路車等一同參與,每年固定舉辦的萬聖節百鬼夜騎,更是吸引上百人身穿特殊造型服裝,一同上街踩踏。單速車騎士大多會在車身貼上裝飾、特殊烤漆,就連騎車時的穿著也都精心打扮,讓騎乘單速車不只是騎士能欣賞景色,單速車與車主也因為競速技巧與造型,而成為別人眼中的風景。


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