AUTUMN is the best season in Hangzhou. With the long summer heat gradually easing, it is the best time to make outdoor plans.
Here are three biking routes that reveal different facades of the city.
The West Lake route
If it is your first time in Hangzhou, this route is designed for you. This is the part of West Lake that has been praised and enchanted by poets for thousands of years.
The route starts from Beishan Road, the most picturesque lakeside road connecting the Bai Causeway and Su Causeway. At the foot of Baoshi Hill, the path is shadowed by tall phoenix trees that makes it ideal for strolling and biking in any season.
Turn left into the Broken Bridge when you spot a McDonald’s cafe on your right. Formerly known as the Duan’s Bridge, the stone arch bridge was rebuilt in 1921 and is 8.8 meters long and 8.6 meters in width.
It is also believed to be the place where the white-snake-transformed-woman Bai Suzhen meets her lover Xu Xian in “The Legend of the White Snake.” The bridge has thus become an emblem of true love.
Following it is the Bai Causeway, a similar bridge connecting the Broken Bridge and the Gushan Hill. Bai Juyi (AD 772-846), who was the mayor of Hangzhou, wrote in a poem about West Lake that he was fond of riding a horse on the Bai Causeway when “the bright grass is just able to hide the hooves of the horse.”
The causeway is lined with poplars and peach and prune trees on both sides.
Riding alongside Gushan Hill, you come to the Su Causeway, which was built by another mayor of Hangzhou, Su Shi, during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The causeway is made up of six arch bridges much steeper and smaller than the Bai Causeway.
You will have a more intimate feeling riding on the bridges as the greeneries and lake views are all closer.
When you are tired, relax at a lakeside bench on either side of the causeway and test the wavy waters of the West Lake.
Total length: 5.4 kilometers
Level of difficulties: elementary (with gentle slopes on Bai Causeway and steep slopes on Su Causeway)
Route: Beishan Road — Broken Bridge — Bai Causeway — Gushan Road — Su Causeway — Nanshan Road — Taiziwan Park
The tea garden route
The first route is classic but is often crowded with tourists especially during holidays. Since May this year, authorities have banned all vehicles in places such as Su and Bai causeways during National Day holiday.
Another and less-traveled way to enjoy the beauty of Hangzhou is to visit the tea gardens. The Longwu tea town is an ideal place to combine sightseeing with biking.
Longwu area has a long tradition of producing tea, even longer than the Longjing area. It is currently a Class II protected production site of West Lake Longjing tea.
In 2015, the first standard 5,590-meter mountain biking venue was built in Longwu. The altitude between the lowest and highest point is 176.5 meters.
By riding through the tea gardens, the bushes, the brooks and vegetable fields, you can enjoy idyllic rural landscape in eastern China.
As non-professionals, you may opt for an easier route. It starts from the center of Longwu and ends in Waitongwu Village in the north extending a distance of 5.6 kilometers.
Compared to others, the Longwu track is mostly unpaved gravel road, making it fun for the riders.
After the ride, taste the locally produced Longjing tea in Waitongwu Village. The tranquil environment here has attracted many artists who have made the village their residence, bringing along more art-related shops and art-themed boutique hotels into the area.
Total length: 5.6 kilometers
Level of difficulties: intermediate (mountain route)
Route: Cimuqiao Village — Bailong Road — Shangchengdai Village Road — East line of Tongwu Road — Tongwu Road E. — Waitongwu Village
The Qiantang River route
Back in 2002, the local government launched a city plan to move eastward, and a new city center has come up across the Qiantang River.
The Qiantang River runs 235 kilometers through Hangzhou city in a direction similar to the Chinese character zhi (之).
If West Lake represents a more delicate, historical Hangzhou, Qiantang River is suggestive of a city future that is more open and inclusive.
There are presently 10 bridges and two underwater tunnels across the river. Most of the bridges allow for non-motorized vehicles.
The route starts from Fuxing Bridge, about 5.5 kilometers away from the municipal center. There is an exclusive bike lane on the lower-tier deck which you can reach via an elevator.
Turn right to Wentao Road when you cross the bridge. Last year, an 11-kilometer-long riverside landscape belt was built along Wentao Road.
Rows of cherry and osmanthus blossoms separate the motorway from the belt, which is made up of an embankment sidewalk, a 2.5-meter-wide running track and a 3-meter-wide bike lane side by side. There are also parks dotted along the way.
The running track was part of the 2016 Hangzhou International Marathon route.
After soaking in the autumn breeze with fragrances of osmanthus, turn right into the Qiantang River Bridge to cross the river.
The Qiantang River Bridge was built back in 1937 by one of the earliest structural engineers of China, Mao Yisheng. It is a two-tiered truss bridge which allows for transportation of trains and motorized vehicles.
The bridge was blown up three times during war time.
The bike route ends at Liuhe Pagoda on Zhijiang road. If you’re not worn out yet by then, climb up the 852-year-old pagoda to get a view of the riverside.
Total length: 16 kilometers
Level of difficulties: intermediate (concrete and tarmac road)
Route: Fuxing Bridge — Wentao Road — Qiantang River Bridge — Zhijiang Road — Liuhe Pagoda
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