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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tempest in a Tea Kettle: Typhoon Day on Wuling


With a tropical storm bordering on typhoon bearing down on Taiwan threatening to flood the weekend with boredom locked inside and nothing to do but eat Oreos (which is what is done on typhoon days) I did the math and figured Saturday would probably be the day to get a ride in.

The typhoon seemed to be behind schedule and wouldn't be arriving until late Saturday and early Sunday. I figured that would probably mean the moisture would be sucked up by the typhoon and we might have clear skies.

I figured I might just have enough time to make a run at the 3275m Wuling Pass-- the very road that utterly destroyed me a few weeks back.

As I eased into my ascent, I was nervous with fresh memories of suffering high up on the foggy ramps high above central Taichung. My pedal stroke felt easy and slick. I was loose... without the pressure of a race.


The mountains clung fast to a wall of clouds that threatened to burst through at any moment and drench the pass with rain.


I moved upward as my shades filled with misty drops of water from a passing cloud. In my mind I had a threshold for physical exhaustion or inclement weather that would preclude an immediate escape.


I passed various landmarks of recent woe buoyed by the notion that I night just make a good day of it.


I climbed higher and higher. Occasionally I would glance at the altimeter to watch my burning legs devour chunks of altitude in satisfying doses.


I was happy to pass other cyclists on my way up with the understanding that my photo stops were merely that-- opportunities to take pictures for this blog.

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As I closed on the summit, the great wall at Kunyang towered over the roadway. It is such a marvel of roadway that I had to make more of an effort to photograph it. 

Somewhere near Yuan-feng the air suddenly changed from the usual balmy summer air that has the consistency of over boiled spinach, to a crisp , coolness that shot directly into my lungs. It almost hurt to the most satisfying way. No, it actually did hurt to breathe. I could feel my lack of conditioning disturbing. I only hope I can bring my VO2 max back up. That is really the killer of one of these high altitude rides in Taiwan. If you are not getting enough oxygen into the muscles, you are going to suffer. 


Layer over layer over wiggling fold, I capped Kunyang with a clear line of sight toward the summit.

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At last my pain had come to an end and I had plenty of energy remaining...suddenly. I snapped my obligatory picture and scared a few tourists along the way as I grumpily lined up my shot while they fiddles with iPad photography. 

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Any chance to enjoy Taiwan's mountains is worth the effort.

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