Joshua Samuel Brown, a former resident of Taiwan and an avid cyclist, will lead Bicycle Adventures’ Taiwan tours. // © 2015 Twilight Kallisti
Feature image (above): Clients who use Bicycle Adventures will ride an average of about 45 miles per day. // © 2015 Taiwan Tourism Bureau
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Travelers fond of exploring on two wheels may want to consider an Asia cycling tour slated to launch later this fall. Washington-based tour operator Bicycle Adventures will debut a new product in Taiwan, offering two 11-day trips around the county departing later this year.
Both tours will be led by former Taiwan resident and lifelong cyclist Joshua Samuel Brown, an accomplished travel writer who has written multiple books about the country and speaks fluent Mandarin and conversational Taiwanese.
“What makes Taiwan a great place to travel is the people, who I’ve always found to be some of the nicest in the world,” Brown said. “On another level, American visitors can experience some of the best of Chinese culture — food, music, art — in Taiwan without having to deal with some of the trickier realities of traveling in mainland China.”
Taiwan also provides a fabulous collection of topographies for bicycle lovers, according to Brown.
“Taiwan has pretty much every terrain a cyclist could desire, from flat plains to rolling hills to jungles to serious, hardcore mountain climbs,” he said. “It’s absolutely possible to experience all of these on any given day.”
Brown says Taiwan has also spent “big bucks” developing and promoting the country’s cycling infrastructure and that the destination features “tons of bike paths,” cycle lanes and a strong overall awareness of cyclists.
“Taiwan produces a sizable chunk of the world's medium- and high-end bicycles, so naturally the government has a vested interest in promoting cycling in general,” Brown said. “I suspect that making Taiwan one of the globe’s top cycling destinations is all part of a clever plot to increase bicycle sales — a scheme that, as a cyclist, I wholeheartedly endorse.”
The tour will begin in the capital city of Taipei, where travelers will depart on some acclimatizing rides locally, including a trip to Yangmingshan National Park in the north. Cyclists will then head south via high-speed train to Kaohsiung City, where the tour begins its northbound itinerary, including time on the island’s five mountain ranges, trips through national parks, stops in indigenous Taiwanese villages and a climb to Taroko Gorge.
“Taroko Gorge, of course, is an absolute standout,” Brown said. “It’s an amazing winding gorge filled with temples, shrines and fairly precipitous climbs and descents.”
The plan is for riders to average about 45 miles per day, Brown says, and the daily routes will be manageable for most clients — with one exception.
“There’s one section on day nine where I'm already planning to take a boost with the van while my partner Jeff Barth, who’s a way stronger cyclist, climbs with guests who want a serious challenge,” Brown said. “But for the most part, the rest of the ride is suitable for all levels. Lots of rolling hills, a few mountain climbs and descents and tons of winding rides along the coast.”
Nightly stops will be made at a collection of high-end hotels and resorts, including several overnights at different Taiwan hot-spring spa hotels.
“I’m a massive fan of Taiwan’s hot springs,” Brown said. “And I suspect that after a long day's ride, our guests will appreciate long, luxurious soaks in Taiwan’s deeply healing mineral baths.”
Taiwanese food will be another major focus of the tour, according to Brown, who has written extensively about the country’s range of delicious culinary traditions. Guests can expect to sample everything from top-notch night-market fare and legendary dumplings to standout aboriginal Taiwanese restaurants.
Commissionable to agents, Bicycle Adventures’ 11-day Taiwan Bike Tours, which depart Oct. 24 and Nov. 7, are $4,850 per person, based on double occupancy, and include accommodations, bicycles and helmets and most meals.