I’ve only seen a place similar to this in the movie Platoon. But there’s no war and no enemies. Just a jungle very close to Taipei, capital of Taiwan. I found myself deep in the jungle with a lot of danger. Slippery roots on the ground, lianas hanging from the branches and bamboo stems very close to the trail. Everything is an obstacle which could lead to serious injury if not careful.
Every cyclist has to watch out very carefully not to crash into the bamboo with the handlebars. It happened often, so you have to bail from the bike into the bush. Thankfully the ground was heavily covered in leaves softening the fall somewhat. The most exotic part about riding in the jungle are the sounds. Unseen birds sing loud and constant. It’s the first experience of its kind in my life.
Prepare to go on a hard mode
I’m sweating like hell with all my photo gear in my bag. This trail is far from an easy level. It’s quite steep with lots of rocky steps and roots in the way. I wish I had woken in a much better shape today. To have it more tricky, I forgot my safety knee pads in my hotel room. Whoops.
The biking trip was arranged by Bobby Chen, sales manager of the Funn Company. It’s an international brand of mountain biking parts and components. During lunch in the small family restaurant we discussed the current mountain biking situation here on the island.
Sad story of mountain biking in Taiwan
“It’s quite an interesting story,” Bobby says. “About thirty years ago the government prohibited logging. That meant there was no need to maintain the forest roads and trails anymore. Most of them were still in a rideable condition for many years. However 12 years ago a massive earthquake hit the area.”
“Many people lost their lives and it also destroyed the landscape of central Taiwan. Most of the trails almost disappeared.” Since then mounting biking is slowly dying out in Taiwan, which is pretty absurd because the island is considered to be on of the biggest producers and exporters of biking components in the world.
Hopefully people like Bobby and his friends will keep the mountain biking spirit alive. Whenever they have time, they go out and build or repair biking trails in the forest. And that is a true passion for mountain biking. They really Love Cycling.