An afternoon of leisure on Houfeng & Dongfeng Bike Path (Part II)
By Lishea Zheng Translated by Ann Lee
This May, why not enjoy a long ride with your two-wheeled friend? If you drive down National Highway 4 and exit at the 1.4-kilometer mile-marker, you'll see various bicycle rental shops on the side of the street and proprietors waving you in. Although these shops vary in size, they offer similar types of bicycles and they charge about the same, too. One of the shops, Giant Dongfeng, rents out all kinds of Giant bikes (04-2529-3972, closed on Thursdays), including ones with comfortable child seats. Songmeng Bikes (04-2523-4783) provides electric bikes with unique and comfortable seats that can easily fit two adults and one child. So, no matter how fit you are or aren't, the shops around the Houfeng and Dongfeng trail heads can outfit you with a suitable ride.
Dongfeng Bikeway was the first abandoned railway on the island to be reconstructed into a bike path; the almost 13-kilometer path is sprinkled with food vendors, an old rail platform and even a visitor's center (04-2572-4533). This center orients visitors to the path's history and sells souvenirs, meals and drinks. While you ride, you can enjoy an amazing view of the Shigang Dam and the great marks that were left behind after the 921 earthquake in 1999. Other exciting sights include the Shigang Japanese-style granary owned by the Farmer's Association, the Valentine's Bridge, and the Dongshih Hakka Cultural Relics Museum that sits where the old train station used to be.
The 4.5-kilometer Houfeng Bikeway, though a bit shorter than the Dongfeng path, is full of charm. Sights along this easy ride include a near-400-meter steel bridge that was built in 1908 and the No. 9 Tunnel. The tunnel, which is 1,273 meters long, was also built in 1908 and is the longest tunnel on the old mountain route. Pedaling closer to Houli, cyclists will be able to greet the train at the North-South Throughway railway, on the top of the hill.
At one point along the ride, the two bike paths meet up. At this intersection sits a cafe called 101 (0937-225-574). Besides freshly-brewed coffee (NT$50+), 101 also serves dishes like handmade pasta and traditional Taiwanese Dan Dan Noodles with Minced Pork (NT$40). A little further up the road is Hu Tian Shuei Restaurant (04-2524-6308), which sells a variety of rice and noodle dishes, as well as refreshing meal sets.
Biking along paths like Dongfeng and Houfeng is not only great exercise, but also allows you to spend some time in nature whenever you want. And the best part is, it's free! Though you might find yourself riding with a crowd on the weekend, you'll still get that wonderful, free feeling while the wind blows in your hair.