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Friday, February 19, 2010

Hill Century

Taichung-Guoxing-Puli-Sun Moon Lake and Home.

One fantastic route through the foothills of central Taiwan starts in Taichung. The #129 starts you off with a wake up hill climb up the "Death Spiral", a curving narrow road that rapidly snakes up 200 meters from the base to peak. From the top you can spin out the acids on the flat XieZhong Rd. to the Fengpu Industry Rd. I would suggest loading up on liquids and food at one of the 7-11 stores here. There isn't much to eat or drink until Puli or Guoxing if you are lucky to pass through on a busy day. This is a real relaxing back way through valleys and descents to the base of Highway 21.

The 21 starts as a nice even climb along a wide, smooth road along a shady set of switchbacks up the mountain. It is not too hard to get some speed through the middle sections before a long, straight climb to the 3000ft. peak. There are no switchbacks for relief. Luckily there is a store with water
and toilet at the top. The descent into Guoxing is a fast set of switchbacks on good roads. This is one of the only places I wish I had a better descending bike. The curves are delicious and there are several opportunities to break well past 30mph (48kph). There is a betel nut stand at the bottom of the descent where you can get water.
From Guoxing you can go straight on the Highway 14 all the way out to Caotun or stick with the Highway 21. The 21 takes you up a moderate ascent and then into a long, flat valley past the old bridge that was entirely held together with sugar paste. I kid you not. The joy ride ends at the base of another tough climb. Maybe it is not that tough. I don't know. It was really hot when I did it and wasn't carrying enough water or food. The hill is about 1000ft. from lowest to highest point and levels off in flat, red farmland. You can wind up a lot of speed before a very fast descent into Puli city.

The Highway 21 just goes right through Puli City out to Sun Moon Lake. I hate Sun Moon Lake. It is an eyesore with over development. So after a long 200 meter climb out of Puli I just took the Local 131 out to Shui li. This is a fantastic road after all that climbing. It just seems to go down. There are a couple little rollers in there, but it just makes adding kilometers easy. Shui li is a great place to fuel up, hydrate and then beat the Highway 16 to the Highway 3 for the long haul through Nantou, Caotun, Wufeng, Dali and into Taichung. 100 hilly miles never felt so good.

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