The Taiwanese are passionate about cycling, and the love is spreading. Everywhere you go, on the metro or along a mountain pass, you see Spandexed cyclists with their vehicles. Each year, cyclists from all over the world flock to the island for the Tour de Taiwan (www.tourdetaiwan.org.tw) and the Taiwan KOM Challenge (www.taiwankom.org/en/).
Much of the focus is on the peaceful east coast with its epic terrain. Routes hug the Pacific Ocean, grind up mountains, and roar down into valleys. However, there are great cycling opportunities elsewhere too. In sunny southern Taiwan, rides are gentle – mostly quiet country roads and coastal pathways. But you’re also welcome to tackle the ascent to Dongshan Coffee Road for a coffee crawl and exploration of the surrounding countryside. Northern Taiwan offers pleasurable cycling along endless riverside paths in urban Taipei, plus a challenging cross-island route.
Taiwan’s cycleways are a part of Cycling Route 1, a 1,000-kilometer network that allows you to circumnavigate the island in 10 days. Bikers whizz past rice fields and Mazu temples in the south, and tea plantations in the north. In addition to the main route, branch routes (a dozen and counting) make detours to attractions like Sun Moon Lake, the National Palace Museum Southern Branch, and Kending.
You can also combine sections of the routes with public transport for side trips to hot spring towns, indigenous settlements, and any of the offshore islands.