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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Rollers of Bagua Shan

Monday was a day off, so I decided to test the knee out with a ramble over Bagua Shan, the 50km hill that reaches from Changhua to Nantou.

I was joined by the indomitable Chris Bolster, who is becoming increasingly sucked into the addiction of cycling.

For me, it was a trial of fitness. The route consists of one stiff climb followed by dozens upon dozens of rollers. The entire route from Taichung and back is almost exactly 100k, so it would be a distance record for Chris, who is still only in his second month of cycling.

We rolled into Changhua and yucked it up with tales of ribaldry over cheap coffee before punching over the hill to the Changhua Route 139.

The morning was bright, but the haze in the air heralded a spot of bad weather for the afternoon.

We punched along the spine of Bagua Shan through the tunnels of treelined shade.

This route is a local favorite as there are few cars and around every corner there are reminders that the beauty of Taiwan is just a short bike ride away. Too often we get caught up in the ugliness of the city and forget how amazing the countryside really can be. Rows of tea and pineapple can really arouse the imagination into entertaining silly thoughts of retiring in a place like this.

We blasted the descent into Songboling at 68kph. and then turned onto the Route 137 with its seemingly endless pits and rises. That road is great torture on the legs as you try to maintain a constant speed over every bump.

We decided to cap off the ride by climbing the Highway 74 back over Bagua Shan. It makes a nice, torturous climb after a long day in the saddle. For the first time in a long time I was feeling flashes of my old self.

As Chris and I went our separate ways after 100 kilometers of fine riding, I had to remind him that he was only 60km from achieving a standard Century... and with a tailwind to Tainan with no hills... he he he...


  1. I love travelling with my folding bike and getting to see/do stuff like this. Rollers don't bother me so much, if I'm not bike camping. I kind of like the up and down. If I'm carrying 50# of gear on my bike though, that's something of another story. Although I also like how I can get out in the middle of nowhere with my camping gear and my bike.

  2. Re photos #2 and 3: What are they, and where were they taken?

  3. That is the Kendo dojo at the base of Bagua Shan. The area had once been a district for Japanese employees of the Taiwan Bank. About a block away there are some really interesting Japanese colonial era tennis courts.