Bicycle Adventures to Be the First International Tour Operator to Bring Guided Cycling Vacations to Taiwan
November 20, 2014
Issaquah, Wash. – A Pacific Northwest-based active travel company specializing in two-wheel tours in North America and internationally will be the first international bike company providing guided tours by bicycle of Taiwan, an island nation little known outside of Asia.
Bicycle Adventures launches its new Taiwan Bike Tour in 2015 with two scheduled 11-day departures: Oct. 24 and Nov. 7. The nearly all-inclusive rate per person, based on double occupancy, is $3,945. Bicycle rental and most meals are included.
“For the past several years, Taiwan has made a commitment to become the bicycling capital of the world,” said Todd Starnes, Bicycle Adventures’ President and Owner. He explained that this commitment came about when the now-retired Chairman and Founder of Giant Manufacturing Co., Ltd., one of the world’s largest makers of bicycles by sales, decided that he would start biking as a retirement activity.
“He jumped on a bike and rode around the island of Taiwan, only to realize that there existed little infrastructure for cycling. He then began giving both his time and his money to support local and national government agencies along with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to create a cycling-friendly country. This was accomplished through the creation of bike lanes and bike paths, including the Danshui River Bike Path (30-60 KM, depending on one’s appetite). There are even designated bike paths veering through rice paddies,” said Starnes.
Taiwan has begun to embrace health and wellness as a cultural ideal, with new fitness-oriented facilities springing up in urban areas. More people can be seen outdoors walking and running for fitness. Several cities have even begun bike share programs, according to Starnes.
The easy-to-access and, for the most part, easy-to-bike routes were designed with showcasing the island in mind. The tour itinerary Bicycle Adventures crafted includes stops at culturally significant sites, including the National Center for Traditional Arts and the Lanyang Museum that was created when a Chinese cultural leader was exiled some years ago to Taiwan. Following in his wake came a collection of Chinese artifacts more impressive than any in China or anywhere else in the world.
“This is a very proud and progressive country,” Starnes said. “They are proud of what they’re doing in technology and manufacturing. Their tourist accommodations reflect their vision for the future, all offering excellent service.”
The gateway city is Taipei where guests are met at the airport. The following day a ride on a high-speed train to Kaohsiung City brings cyclists to the southern end of the island to begin the tour northbound.
On the itinerary that averages about 74 kilometers a day of biking, guests pause in aboriginal villages where people still live as they did hundreds of years ago. These are descendants of Austronesians who first settled on Taiwan.
Traversing the ups and downs and in-betweens of some of the island’s five vertical mountain ranges is part of the fun. This includes rides up to and through two national parks that reveal stunning canopies in near-rainforest settings of up to 8,000 feet. One of the biggest challenges will be an uphill ride in the Taroka Gorge, promised Starnes. “Our guests are welcome to try to ride all the way to the top. I didn’t make it.”
Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa or “beautiful island”, is separated from the Asian mainland by the South China Sea - variously known as Black Ditch, Taiwan Strait or Formosa Strait - across 110 miles of water. Loyalties of its people have been challenged over time as Japan and China have both claimed the island. Today it’s in China’s realm. Mandarin is the official language. Ma Ying-jeou is president of Taiwan.
Bicycle Adventures recently signed the 20,000-member Japan Cycling Association to be an exclusive provider of bike tours in North America. Starnes anticipated that the new Taiwan program will be popular with the Japanese as well. “It’s an easy flight from Japan and a way of introducing our company to the new Japan market.”