Winter Great for Cycling But…
Taiwan’s winter is great for cycling, especially for those live in the US.
At daytime the weather is similar to Seattle’s spring and autumn, which is very pleasant. At night the weather is cold enough to enjoy a good hot spring, which is easy to find in Taiwan. Furthermore, Taiwan seldom rains in winter.
In winter you usually will have nice weather all day. In the summer it often rains in the afternoon.
Yet Taiwan winter cycling has an undesirable condition not commonly found in the US: bad air quality. This demands an unusual winter cycling gear not found in the US.
High AQI Value in Winter
Unlike the typical healthy/moderate AQI index in the US, in Taiwan’s winter season several factors contribute to the often USG/Unhealthy AQI level:
- Scarce rain.
- Stale wind.
- Foggy cold air.
The air quality is especially bad in Taiwan’s middle/south west regions. Sometimes the quality is so bad that we have a “purple explosion (紫爆)”: AQI to Very Unhealthy level.
Got Wrecked by Bad Air Quality
I once did a cycling trip riding around TsengWen Reservoir (曾文水庫) in Tainan (台南). That day the air quality was over red (Unhealthy). The route was separated by a mountain into east and west side.
My TsengWen Reservoir Route. Blue line is the mountain, and its west is the populated Tainan area.
As I crossed the mountain from bottom west I began to cough a lot. After ~10km of cycling at the bad air quality west region I couldn’t stop coughing and has difficulty breathing. Thus I was forced to abandoned by last few kms ride back to my starting point Guanziling (關子嶺). This has never happened when I cycled in the US.
Crazy smog at far end.
Unusual Winter Cycling Gear: Masks
Therefore, when cycling Taiwan in winter be sure to bring a mask! You don’t need a super badass medical-grade mask like N95, but a common 3M Nexcare confort mask should work.
You also look badass when wearing a mask and sunglasses.
As a lot of Taiwanese people ride scooters, you can easily get this kind of mask at a convenient store for less than $5 bucks.
Mask sold in Taiwan’s convenient store.
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