9 days and an average of 100 km a day. A challenge in one of the less visited countries in East Asia and a challenge that sounded practically impossible for an average guy who does sport once every two weeks like me. Well, let me tell you! I made it! And I think any of you could do it too.
Every year the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in partnership with the Taiwan Cyclist Association and Giant – the largest bicycle company in the world – celebrate the Taiwan Cycling Festival, an event that attracts bicycle lovers from all over Asia to travel around the country and not only explore some of the most diverse landscapes and regions this country has to offer, but also to ride on one of the most beautiful and largest bike roads in Asia. Events go from day trips to the Sun Moon Lake, a location very close to Taipei City to more challenging routes like the Taiwan KOM Challenge, where cyclists from all over the world compete to climb from 0 to 3275 m in only 105 km. A challenge that even attracts cyclists from professional teams like Sky or Giant-Alpecin.
However, the main event at the Taiwan Cycling Festival is probably the Formosa 900, a round-island tour covering more than 900 km in only 9 days. Teams from all over the world can submit their application and get the chance to see Taiwan from a completely new perspective.
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau put me on that list with another 15 young travelers from all over the world. From adventure travel bloggers to young journalists without any experience in long bicycle trips, our team represented more than 8 different countries and all levels of experience. An adventure that could go very wrong or become a lifetime experience.
With only a couple of months of preparation and practically zero experience in long bicycle trips, I knew I was going to suffer during this trip. Still, I was so motivated and stoked with the idea of traveling around a whole country in such a short period that I couldn´t reject such an incredible experience.
In the months before I decided to take the bicycle for grocery shopping, to the bank, main train station and other places where I usually take a metro. I also started to cycling slightly longer routes on weekends (20-25km) so I could get used to longer distances – still just peanuts in comparison to the 100 km we had to do every day…
What do I need to buy before this trip: While cycling shirts are very comfortable for long trips, normal sport t-shirts would be fine as well. Cycling shorts are necessary for these long day trips to avoid unnecessary pain, the same goes for cycling gloves. Painkillers would also be something you might need after a couple of days.
With an average of 100 km per day and more or less 9 hours of daylight, our goal was to travel an average of 20 km an hour stopping every hour or 15km for short breaks and travel as a team during the whole route. Organized tours make the experience way easier by carrying luggage, food and drinks, making the trip as light as possible. We also had two staff members motivating and guiding us during the whole route.
The levels of difficulty vary each day. From long and flat routes (these are the worst) to a more mountainous landscape in the western part of the country, you will be able to test many levels of difficulty during this journey.
Can I do it by myself: Yes you can! The route 1 takes you all around Taiwan and can be done by any traveler with a bicycle. Supermarkets are located closeby relatively often and you can plan the route, stops and pace yourself.
What if I get injured: The staff members will take care of you and in case your bicycle is damaged or you are not able to continue the route, you can rest in one of the vans for the necessary period for you to recover.
This will be an experience you will never forget and tell to your friends and family at every Christmas dinner. It´s an adventure that will show you how much you are capable of and how everything you take on can be possible. It’s a challenge for anyone who doesn´t have bicycle experience, but that will show you how strong you really are.
It´s normal to feel pain after a couple of days, but once your day route starts you will recover very quickly. Your teammates will also be a motivation for you to continue riding. Traveling as a group makes you travel faster and not get tired so easily.
NOTE: Remember that keeping your pace will help you save energy at long legs.
How much time do I need to recover from each leg: Each leg starts around 7 am and ends at 5 pm. This might sound like a long time, but with breaks every hour and a large lunch break, you will be able to feel comfortable traveling long distances by bicycle. Important is that you drink at least 1 liter of water per day, eat snacks and fruits every hour and avoid energy drinks – these will affect your performance after a couple of days.
Do we have time for sightseeing: Traveling by bicycle around a country will let you see life in this place from a completely different perspective. You won´t have much time to spend in a single spot, but you will be able to see different views of Taiwanese life that you won´t see as a normal tourist – A different type of traveling for a different perspective.
Check out our video from Taiwan and get some wanderlust to go out and ride!
Taiwan has one of the best and most beautiful cycling routes in Asia. An ultimate experience for anyone looking for a new adventure completely off the beaten path. An adventure that will take you through modern cities, local markets, large rice fields and magnificent coastlines. A new way to see a new country with completely different eyes.
Giant Adventure offers tours around Taiwan starting from 200 USD for a three day adventure up to 1000 USD for 900 km experience, a good investment for any beginner or adventurer looking for something new.