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Monday, August 15, 2011

Disaster On The Mountain: Wuling Never Seemed So Far

Morning Breaks In Puli

After a punishing day on Saturday, I thought I should join the team from Mosaic and do a little recon work up on Ho Huan Shan for next weekend's Neverstop Wuling Challenge.

Prepping For Launch

I have been a little bit quiet about my preparations for this race and it might explain why I have been a little anti-social in my riding and also why I have been mad about climbing for the past few weeks.

In coming back from my knee injury, I thought I should have a goal in mind to help guide my training and rehab. Unfortunately, that goal was Wuling. Wuling, at 3275 meters, is the highest pass in Taiwan along the Central Cross Island Highway... and it is a bruiser. After an initial stretch of warm-up 3%-4% grades, the road launches up some serious pitches of over 15%. The final two kilometers zig-zag up the bare face of the mountain where the air is thin and the temps drop into a chill.

Views From Ching Jing

I joined the rest of the Mosaic team too early in the morning and we all headed out to the Ching Jing Leisure Farm half-way up the mountain and beyond some of the more serious climbs below Wu She.

As we rolled out onto the roadway, there were already teams of cyclists deep into their cycling day. The soreness in my body made spinning up to speed difficult, but I was soon toiling away steadily near the front. I was pushing, but not that bad. After a few more kilometers I was laboring pretty hard, but I had a different problem.

On Saturday, early in my ride, I felt a pit of soreness behind my knee. That soreness did not really go away and did not progress throughout my day. As I mashed over the 136 it had become more pronounced and I took it easy. After a night to sleep on it I hoped it would be gone in the morning. Nope. By the time I reached the base of the final hay stack up to the top, the soreness in my knee was evident in every revolution of the pedals. I stopped to stretch and it came back.

I told myself after recovering from it the first time that if I started to feel the same thing coming on, I would have no problem pulling the plug on any ride and just going home. I did just that. I turned around and coasted back to base camp at the Ching Jing SupershoppingfestivalDisneyland. I felt a little upset that I couldn't summit, but I am sure I would feel worse sitting on my ass for another 4 months.

9 Lives!

I then just sat around watching people and drinking coffee until the rest of the team made it back. They all got to summit.


I am feeling ok now, but I will need to rest and stretch all week. I have mixed feelings about going up onto Ho Huan Shan last Sunday. I am glad I had a chance to check the route and make mental preparations for the topography... sometimes not knowing what the rest of the hill looks like can be more demoralizing as the actual hill.

On the other hand, by going up there and being unable to make it I have sewn the seeds of doubt in my own ability to beat this thing. With the knee soreness I will also be super sensitive to that and it might steer my mental focus away from my climb.

At this point I will just be happy to attend. I will be even more excited to finish. If the knee flares up again, I will have no problem rolling back down the mountain.

There are plenty of races and thousands of roads... but you only get two knees.

Sometimes As Cyclists We're Chasing Windmills
  • T-Mosaic has pictures Here.