The weekend of cycling began on Saturday when I rode down from Taipei to Hukou for the Blogtoberfest. The next morning I got up early to ride down to Miaoli where I planned to meet a group from the Thousand Mile Island Trail (千里步道). I was familiar with the roads in this area after a motorbike trip I made here last year. However, I underestimated the distance and it took me a bit longer than I expected.
Turning off Highway 3 onto Route 126 I had almost caught up to the group. I eased off the pace and enjoyed the incredible scenery on this road. I finally caught up with the group at Ecological Garden (綠色生態家園) on the banks of the Mingde Reservoir (明德水庫).
I found myself in some illustrious cycling company. There were two boys who had ridden around Taiwan three times and they are still in junior high school! Another man had ridden around Taiwan nine times. However, the focus of the Thousand Mile Island Trail is not who can ride the furtherest or the fastest, but appreciating the beauty and culture of Formosa. The group was on a four day tour of the area, but I only joined the ride for one day.
The ride took us on some of the minor roads of Miaoli County. At lunchtime we stopped in Hegang (鶴岡社區) in Gongguan where there were two sacred trees. The one on the left is a 500 year old Bishop wood and on the right is an 800 year old camphor tree. At Xinglong Primary School (興隆過小) we also saw a camphor tree (樟樹) that was over 800 years old.
A little way down the road from there we discovered a beautiful old courtyard style home. I was quite excited to see this building as its design, which incorporated a fishpond into the front courtyard, was similar to buildings I had seen in Tufang (塗坊) in Changting County of Fujian Province.
Travelling along the small country roads there was a lot to see. We stopped at a couple of small farms including one which grew a grass (香茅草) that was used to make a perfume essence. Near the end of the day we came to the Sanyi Hakka Museum (三義客家書院). From there it was a short ride to Chun Tian Yao (春田窯) where the ride ended for the day.
*More photos in the Miaoli cycling set at flickr.