This was a ride I did over a month ago and only went part way up the mountain and had to turnback since I had run out of time. I was keen to re-visit this area again to do some exploration since it was off-the-beaten track and very scenic.
Riding along the smooth cycle path Climbing on Xintan Road Bitan Diao Swing Bridge – Xindian
Getting there & ride description
You cruise down on the bicycle path all the way to Xindian and cross over the Bitan Diao Bridge (a swing bridge), turn left at the 7-11 onto Yong Ye Road????) and you climb for 5-10 minutes up through the valley. The road turns into Xin-Tan Road (Section 1) and there is a short fast down-hill that leads to a flat section through some residential and construction areas for several kilometers. Do not deviate from the main road (Xin-Tan) and you will pass the Si Yuan Bridge (left) and Xin Tan becomes section 2 and then 3. You follow the road up into the mountain, climbs steeply for the first 1km or so and then levels out for a nice gradual twisting climb that quickly becomes a one-lane very scenic country road. There are dogs dozing about and some rummaging through garbage, but they generally don’t bother you. It is only when you get further up into the mountain is when you need to be careful about the dogs. They seemed to become more and more aggressive the higher I climbed or maybe it was because of my ragged breathing by that point! At about 600m, I ran into a couple of black dogs that lunged for me but I yelled at the top of my lungs to scare them away. This only made them run up the hill away from me, barking at the same time.
They then let me go past and as I went to go past them, they both bared their fangs and came within inches of snapping my heels. I was quite shaken, and they gave up after a short while but then started chasing me again. It was like I was being hunted by these two dogs. Fortunately they were no longer there when I returned the same way. For those of you that constantly run into dog problems whilst cycling here in Taiwan or anywhere in the world, there is an excellent discussion about how people handle dogs: Bicycle Riding and Stray Dogs. Highly recommended and interesting read. It definitely made me think about how to handle dogs here. Usually, I have enough speed in other places in the world to out-pace chasing dogs, but here with all the climbing you are easier prey to the dogs.
If you can come prepared to have run-ins with some dogs up higher and can confidently handle them, the ride is well worth it. Its a great climb that stays gradual for 5-6kms and then pitches up steeply at half-way point (where you see the waterfall on your right as you go over the bridge) it levels out briefly through a small settlement and then shoots up again for several minutes till you come to a cross-roads and a shop on your left. I took the left turn to ride straight through the village and continued climbing. Eventually you’ll come to a colorful mural with two Gold Lion statues guarding the front steps. It was about 5 minutes after this point that I had the run in with the two dogs. The road keeps climbing steadily and there are some small roads that lead to no-where.
Great for exploring though! If it is a good day, you will see Taipei City sprawled out down below you in the distance including the 101 building. This is the reward for doing the lung-busting climb and getting past the dogs! I did not find the actual mountain peak, but one of the roads apparently lead to route no.7 which would take you over more mountains, and much higher in altitude, further South. On the way back to Taipei you can stop in Xindian by the Bitan Swing Bridge for a cup of coffee.
If you are a numbers person, you can check out my power, heart rate, speed, and elevation information on Training Peaks