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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tourng The Liyu Reservoir: Route 52 and Route 52-3

New Citizen Talking To A Cop

After waking up late for another scheduled ride, I slept in and then debated the weather before reaching the conclusion that anything could happen and pushed my luck on the saddle.

My legs were feeling... better... but the plan was for a more leisurely, exploratory ride into the hills over the Liyu Reservoir. I have ridden the gorgeous Miaoli Route 52 dozens of times as it starts high above Juolan where the Highway 3 bends toward the Liyu Reservoir and makes for an easy and accessible weekend route.

I had never tried the Route 52-3 at the northern end of the reservoir... mainly because it was not far enough away to make it worth the adventure. Now I was more than curious to try that road.

"Morning Ride and Smoke With My Best Gal"

I steadily rolled on up onto the Hou-Feng Bike Trail, which was filled with riders squeezed together cheek by jowl into the narrow path. The experience is really stressful as riders brake, swerve, smoke (see picture) and veer into the oncoming lanes. It feels just like morning traffic.


Visibility was horrible all day. It seemed like the clouds were just sitting on my back the whole day driving the humidity through the roof. A coffee and couple punchy climbs later, I was perched over the Liyu Reservoir.

Haze Over Reservoir

Not long after I committed to the northern route a light drizzle had begun to fall. It was actually quite refreshing.

Bridge To Route 52-3

I approached the bridge where the Route 52-3 starts and stopped for a few minutes to watch a couple of fishermen balance along the edge of the bridge as they tried to reel in some type of fish.


Something To See

Looking Down On Reservoir

Soon I was speeding over short climbs and dipping into dark valleys. The road was an absolute gem until about 3/4 of the way to the top when it suddenly becomes a narrow scribble of amateur paving. The punchy climbs became sustained grinds on 12% grades through bamboo groves.



Suddenly the bottom drops out of the climb and the road skates along ridges past lonely farmhouses and deep, foliage covered valleys.


The descent is such a wonderful thrill ride on what is essentially paved singletrack, I felt a little disappointed when it was all over at the bottom of the Liyu dam.

I sat there for a few minutes to decide which way to go. Would it be to Houli on the busy Highway 13, or would it be another climb over the Route 52 along the southern ridge of the reservoir?

I chose the climb. My legs actually started feeling great the more I climbed. I then upped the pace back to Taichung as the spray and grit from the wet roads covered my face at speed.

It was rainy, humid and I had a late start, but it was a fantastic ride.

Distance: 110km
Elevation Gain: 3192ft
Max Speed: 66kph

Manly Day On The 52-3