[Taipei’s Back Garden]: PingXi Classics 平溪經典

[Taipei’s Back Garden]: PingXi Classics 平溪經典

Route Summary:

  • Starting Location:  Shenkeng (深坑), Taipei.
  • Length: 91km. Highest elevation: about 614m.
  • Hill profile: Two major hill climbs. Moderate/easy slopes.
  • Comments:
    • 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.

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Old building front.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Old Street without the crowd.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

“Shenkeng Under the Tree”, one of the famous tofu stores at the Old Street.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Shenkeng Old Street’s landmark: the Big Tree.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

 Badass temple in front of the event plaza.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

The timing gate.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

And the event starts.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

The gate said “Summer Mountain, Fountain, View ShiDing (石碇)

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Taiwan’s typical street view.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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)”

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

A temple’s big LED bulletin.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Shiding (石碇) also has a little quiet residential section. The buildings are neatly built along the creek on the hillside.

PingXi climbing hills.

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.

PingXi climbing hills.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

One of the major switch back section.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Notice the master white Guanyin on top left.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Tea field on the side.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

There is a small stop here for water and lots of bananas. Minion friendly.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

My favorite toilet.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Tea field and mountains.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Tea field and temple gate.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

PingLin Elementary. More views and less tests please.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

It said “New Taipei City English Magic School”. LOL.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Colorful temple ceiling decoration.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

ShangXi used to be a coal mining area. As such the temple has a building dedicated to old coal mine workers.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

The road goes all the way to east Taiwan shore.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Farmers market.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Eventually I recognized the wrong direction and headed back.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

A pink half-width building.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Beautiful lotus fields.

Catching up with other riders again, this section has some tough climbing due to the heat.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

A big, long tunnel called PingShang Tunnel marks the divide point between ShangXi and PingXi.

 

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

The residential part of Shifen.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

The area on the right side of the river is the Old Street section, and where all the fun is.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

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PingXi town center.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Another coal mine memorial.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Sky lantern shaped police station.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

“Bicycles/Tandem for rent”

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Coal mining theme graffiti.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

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.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

Thumbnail!

Eventually the road leads back to Shenkeng and marks the end of the ride.

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike Ride

080716 PingXi Bike 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.

Shenkeng old street during lunchtime

Lunchtime under the Shenkeng’s big tree.

Shenkeng old street during lunchtime

Shenkeng old street during lunchtime

These are prepared dishes you can buy and cook at home. In Taiwan’s old stores they are often wrapped in plastic bags like here.

Shenkeng old street during lunchtime

From near to far: soy-stewed tofu, stewed bamboo shoots, tofu thickened soup, and braised tofu.

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