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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quick Morning over Bagua Shan.

Looking at the mountains from Wuer

This week has been a bit tricky with the weather. As many of you already know, during the summer the weather can be completely unpredictable in Taiwan. What may start out as a hot, sunny day, can quickly turn into rivers from the sky. I recall a 200k ride I did last year that looked so promising, until the puffy white clouds turned menacingly grey and then dumped enough water on me to drown my ipod.

My best guess was that it would be wise to start out early and do a ride up and around Bagua Shan, the big hill that separates Taichung from the Changhua plain. I figured with winds coming from the south, a nice lateral route with some climbing would be nice. Furthermore, there are lots of escape routes if it looks like the weather might deteriorate.

Team Radio Shack's Last Tour Contender?

I left through the Nantun Dist. and took the bridge near the HSR station to cross into Changhua. Blue skies, puffy clouds. It was a magnificent morning. I tagged along with a small group of riders until we could circumvent the road construction on the Highway 74 that goes directly over Bagua Shan, and then I hung a left on Highway 14 toward Fenyuan.

Looking Good This Fine Morning

Fenyuan is really an interesting town. I highly recommend a photo-ride through there on any weekend morning. Everyone is hanging out on the street.

Beautiful Downtown Fenyuan

I made a strategic error and assumed I would have gotten food earlier, so I stopped in Fenyuan for coffee, rice dumplings and a sport drink to fuel my climb and the rest of my ride.

Dacun Below (Grape Country)

I took Zhong Shan Rd. to the 139 which runs along the top of the hill in a sort of undulating series of short climbs and drops. The high winds made the view from the top nearly free of the usual haze.

I kept a nervous watch over my shoulder at all times to make sure I wouldn't be caught by a surprise thunderstorm, but the only clouds were a few cotton balls snuggling up against the mountains and some wisps of white toward Douliu far below.

Then, no more than 15 minutes after I took these pictures, I looked up to see a huge cloud bank covering southern Changhua in a dark mist. I checked the mountains and the clouds had burst through the Central Mountain Range and were closing fast.

I bailed out on part of Yuanshui Rd. for a roaring descent off the hill to join up with the Route 137.

Posing With Pineapples

I pounded away under the shadow of grey clouds to get home before the skies opened up. I normally don't mind the rain, but I just got my new wheels on Thursday and I am really not ready to risk getting water and dirt in the bearings yet. Let them be new for a while longer.

I reached the Highway 74 again and decided to climb it rather than go around through Changhua City. My climbing felt a bit better and I made good time up to the top. Then I was ready for the descent. My Garmin had me at 69kph, but I felt so stable I had plenty of time to enjoy my ride.

Before long I was back home and the clouds were soon covering Taichung again. Within an hour the rain opened up and washed all of central Taiwan. It didn't last, so hopefully things will be clearing up and I can get a few more rides in.

It was just a nice little morning ride.

New Fulcrum Racing 1 Alloy Wheels... real nice!


Check out Muse of Taichung and his narrative from the epic Tour of Taichung.