- Starting Location: Shenkeng (深坑), Taipei.
- Length: 91km. Highest elevation: about 614m.
- Hill profile: Two major hill climbs. Moderate/easy slopes.
- More traffic at Shenkeng, Shifen (十分) and PingXi (平溪).
- Traffic controls at major intersections and sharp turns, enabling safer rides.
- All-you-can-eat banana supply.
- Good for: Normal day, easy pace training.
- Route Highlights:
- Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街).
- PingLin Green Tea fields (坪林包種茶園).
- ShuangXi (雙溪) valley view.
- PingXi (平溪) sky lantern themed district.
- Local special handmade tofu dishes.
For foreigners Taipei is often considered as a flat, crowed place with lots of city lives. That is true, but less people know that the hilly areas surrounding the Taipei basin have a lot of awesome rural scenery. Shenkeng(深坑)/PingXi(平溪) area east of Taipei is one of them, and the cyclists know it well. Hence the PingXi Classic (平溪經典).
As usual the ride starts at 6 am. Riding toward the starting point passes the Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街). The old street is famous for food utilizing local mountain resources, like bamboo shoot and handmade tofu.
If you like (can tolerate) stinky tofu Shenkeng’s stinky tofu is special: it is baked rather than fried.
Old building front.
Old Street without the crowd.
“Shenkeng Under the Tree”, one of the famous tofu stores at the Old Street.
Shenkeng Old Street’s landmark: the Big Tree.
The starting point is at a plaza in front of a cool looking temple. As usual cyclists gather up at the timing gate waiting to start.
Badass temple in front of the event plaza.
The timing gate.
And the event starts.
The gate said “Summer Mountain, Fountain, View ShiDing (石碇)
Taiwan’s typical street view.
The first section is a local road from ShiDing (石碇) to PingLin (坪林). The road is just beneath the National Highway #5 (國道五號) that goes from Taipei to Yilan (宜蘭). Thus you can see the high-rise structure along the way.
Notice the food store after the big blue sign! It’s a famous Taiwanese sausage store in this area called “The Tea Olive Sausage (桂花香腸)”
A temple’s big LED bulletin.
Shiding (石碇) also has a little quiet residential section. The buildings are neatly built along the creek on the hillside.
Starting from here is one of the major long climbs in the event. The slope is moderate, so you can enjoy the great Taipei back country view.
One of the major switch back section.
At the hill top. Ready for doing down fast.
After hitting the top starts a pretty steep descend. There are golden Guanyin statues along the way to kindly warm people to slow down their speed.
Notice the master white Guanyin on top left.
After the descend enters the PingLin (坪林) tea field area. PingLin is famous for a special green tea called Pouchong Tea (包種茶), famous for its extreme strong floral scent.
Tea field on the side.
There is a small stop here for water and lots of bananas. Minion friendly.
My favorite toilet.
Tea field and mountains.
Tea field and temple gate.
PingLin Elementary. More views and less tests please.
Riding further, the road goes into narrow country road. Here there are a lot of sharp “hairpin turns”, many of them are not obvious. Thus when cycling in Taiwan don’t descend too fast if you are not familiar of the roads.
It said “New Taipei City English Magic School”. LOL.
Stone teapot marking the highest point of the tea fields.
After existing PingLin the ride enters ShuangXi. Another rest stop is setup here at the temple.
Colorful temple ceiling decoration.
ShangXi used to be a coal mining area. As such the temple has a building dedicated to old coal mine workers.
Ganlin Elementary. Ganlin literally means “forest of tangerine trees”
The ride eventually enters onto a big road Highway #2 Bin. Here I missed a sharp left and was going at the wrong way. No regret at all, as the wide valley scenery here is absolutely gorgeous.
The road goes all the way to east Taiwan shore.
Eventually I recognized the wrong direction and headed back.
A pink half-width building.
Beautiful lotus fields.
Catching up with other riders again, this section has some tough climbing due to the heat.
A big, long tunnel called PingShang Tunnel marks the divide point between ShangXi and PingXi.
Crossing the tunnel, the road continues toward Shifen (十分) and PingXi (平溪). Shifen is famous for its Shifeng Waterfall as well as an Old Street built on the side of the railroad. The ride doesn’t go there to avoid big tourist buses.
The residential part of Shifen.
The area on the right side of the river is the Old Street section, and where all the fun is.
Passing Shifen enters the famous PingXi area, the place where the sky lanterns are released during Chinese Lunar Year holidays. Even now in Summer you can see lantern-theme objects all around the town.
PingXi town center.
Another coal mine memorial.
Sky lantern shaped police station.
“Bicycles/Tandem for rent”
Coal mining theme graffiti.
Sky lantern shaped sign.
At the final rest stop a show girl is taking photos for scooters. This is another fun part of cycling in Taiwan: you always encounter something unexpected.
Eventually the road leads back to Shenkeng and marks the end of the ride.
Is this the end? Absolutely not! No cycling event should end without a proper meal, especially when you are near Shenkeng Old Street. It’s time to get some local tofu special dishes.