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Sunday, September 5, 2010

King of the Mountain

The view from Wuling

The Challenge the Ultimate- Puli to Wuling race was held this weekend and the title was claimed by Lin Huan-tze, the 21yo. cyclist who also won the event in 2009. Lin finished the 55km ascent to the 3275 meter summit in 2:56:07, taking 5 min. off his previous record for the event. The winner of the Women's category was Cheng Shih-hsuan, who finished in 3:46:03.

The event is known for its difficult climb and is known to attract thousands of participants of varying degrees.

The event is organized by the Taiwan Neverstop cycling group and has drawn wide criticism within the cycling community for the way the organizers manage safety for the riders. Critics complain that the number of cyclists who are registered by Neverstop to compete in the event is too great for the road and the conditions, making it a hazard for all cyclists in the event. This year nearly 6000 cyclists participated in the race while the road remained open to vehicular traffic. Many in the cycling community are discussing limiting the event to a fixed number of participants or delaying the start by category.

Neverstop has, so far, been unresponsive to these suggestions as they would like to get as many people put on bikes as possible.

This blogger can sympathize with the concerned cyclists as novice cyclists can easily be a danger to themselves and to others, especially on such a demanding route. My scariest cycling moment occurred coming down from Wuling when an impatient driver tried to pass three cars and a tour bus on a series of curves on a section with no shoulder, just a half-meter rain gutter on the side. Scary stuff.

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