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Saturday, July 23, 2011

2000 Meters Above Central Taiwan: Climbing The Four Peaks

Feeling A Bit Rough

Saturday, I decided to punish myself for not getting out mid-week for any training rides and so I figured I should take on some of the area's more notorious roads while adding some distance to increase my overall fitness.

This trip was not so much about destination, but the journey... er... actually, it was about the roads. It is funny that, as cyclists, we often complain about traffic and reliance on motor vehicles. I know I do. But I can sure figure out how to properly enjoy the roads we've build for them.

Stop to stretch legs

I left Taichung along Dong-shan Rd. through Dakeng to warm up my climbing legs on the Route 129 to Hsin-she. I felt 10 times better than when I did this route a couple of weeks ago.

I then continued on the Route 93 to Chung-ho (Zhong-he) Village and out to the Highway 21 to traverse Baimao Shan. The climbing was steady and had I not had such a full plate for the day, I may have hit it a lot harder.

Highway 21

I sacrificed part of one of the most wonderful descents I have ever ridden to see if I could bring back a couple pictures of the road to explain my fixation with it. Sadly, there are few real vantage points to show it in all its awesomeness.

Straight Away on the Highway 21

At Guoxing I stayed on the Highway 21, which banks left into a short climb and the most rewarding valley. The normal route is to go straight on the Highway 21, which becomes the Route 133 and goes back to the Highway 14 toward Taichung or the Route 136.

National Fruit

The valley ends at a rough climb with a couple grades in the double digits. I was pleased with my progress and I just kept plugging away at the hill.

Looking Down

I always underestimate this climb, and with the sun at its highest point, it was even less comfortable.

Above Puli

I kept focusing on my pedal stroke and looking up ahead. Suddenly, I turned a corner and found myself on top of the 2200ft plateau.

This is one of my favorite areas. The plateau is covered in dark red clay and the farms that spring from that soil. It is truly a sight.

Silly Giant Buddha

The Highway 21 shoots on through a small farming community and then plunges into the Puli Basin. It is easy to bring speeds up into the high 60's on the descent. I passed the Giant Buddha and I am always struck by how many people I have heard who are impressed by such an eyesore. It isn't old, it isn't special and it doesn't really belong when you look at the environment. It is just a gaudy display of a temple's "power".

I finally rolled into Puli, but didn't stay long. My hydration and nutrition plan was working perfectly and I wouldn't need to stop for fuel until the Route 136.

As I headed out of Puli on the Highway 14, the road was like a wind tunnel. All that wind channeled through the mountains made the ride an absolute pain. I pulled my effort back to save my legs for the final climb. I thought I could use the Highway 14 as recovery time.

Route 136

I took on fuel and water at the Hi Life at the base of the Route 136, and then cranked my legs up to speed. The climb is really not so bad for the first two thirds or so, but then the ramps start to indicate a final third of suffering. Surprisingly, I was making pretty good time up the hill. I stopped for a picture of the road, but that was about it. I just kept pushing to the top.

The descent into Taiping was smooth and fast. I was feeling pretty good.


Distance: 140km
Elevation Gain: 2000m/6500ft
Max Speed: 60kph
Max Temp: 40C/104F
Calories Burned: 4714cal

Along 136

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