Bicycle touring Taiwan in search of the perfect wave
We took up the massive challenge again, not only to cycle and look for surf but also film our adventure to share and inspire others to try bicycle touring. We did our first bicycle tour across the Indonesian archipelago in 2009, traversing the islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali, covering 3500km and surfing many world-class waves. We filmed it with just a couple of handycams and managed to edit it in my bedroom. Two years later we sold it to a TV station and now here we are producing our next season of eat.sleep.surf – our destination: Taiwan.
Taiwan is an amazing country. It's compact – about 1000kms from top to bottom – and has everything from jungles, amazing cliffs, white sandy beaches and, of course, waves. It's a country made for bicycle touring; it's very safe and pretty much has a bicycle lane the whole length of the island.
We planned for 30 days to film our adventure and started the tour from Taipei in the north. We headed down the east coast keeping an eye out for waves, but two weeks into the trip and we had only surfed twice – and they weren't anything special.
The whole purpose of this TV show is to cycle between waves and we were starting to feel the pressure.
Now at the halfway mark, our plan was to ride inland up to sample Taiwan's stunning mountain scenery. We started at the Toroko Gorge, which was an absolutely breathtaking place. It was about 85km up to the summit of 3274m, making it the highest road we had ever cycled.
We took our time at the gorge filming and setting up shots and then continued up the pass. The road began to climb steeply.
The first day we made it to about 1200m and were lucky enough to camp at a roadside shack. The lovely lady let us camp in the front of the shop and fed us some dinner that night.
We woke to amazing view and clear skies, perfect weather for some climbing. We continued the climb and were joined by a stray puppy who we named Oreo. He followed us for two hours before being chased off by a larger dog further up the climb.
By late afternoon we had reached 3000m and the steepest part of the whole climb. People had warned us of this part and during some sections we both were pushing our bikes.
We rounded what seemed like the summit, but once over the other side I saw the road rise up to pass over the highest point; we weren't going to make it before sunset. It was very cold at this altitude and we found a warm place to stay with many other mountain climbers.
The next day we pushed our way up the last section to the summit of 3274m, did some filming and then started the five-hour descend back to the ocean, hoping to find some waves. We got to the beach and to our disapproval there wasn't a wave in sight – the pacific ocean had turned into a lake.
We did the only thing we could do – laugh it off – and spent the day riding down the scenic coast and camping on the beach.
We kept on cycling the next day, but the ocean remained flat. The road wound into the mountains, which fell off steeply into the ocean, and then through a number of tunnels and a few 200m climbs.
It started to rain. It was misty, humid and hot, but no breeze. We hit the coast again and stopped to have lunch, our spirits down.
Back on the bikes, we rounded a headland and looked down to see the mouth of a river with perfect A-frame waves breaking everywhere. Rian and I could not believe our eyes. I scrambled for the camera to capture our reactions for the TV show before heading straight down there to surf. We camped there for two nights and surfed.
Dydlan Brayshaw and Rian Cope are two bicycle-touring surfers. They've documented their amazing journeys in the TV series eat.sleep.surf. Find out more about their adventures in Indonesia and Taiwan or download the series on the eat.sleep.surf website.