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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hammering Up Anvil Hill: A Ride Forged in the Furnace of Summer


I had been hoping for a ride closer to home, so I took off to climb Anvil Hill behind Dajia Township. I really didn't know what to expect.

Anvil Hill is easily identifiable with a concrete Japanese era blockhouse, which once served as part of the coastal defense system and possibly as part of the network to defend the Kokan aerodrome in Taichu (Taichung) during WWII.

The crumbling concrete structure poking above the long grasses of the hillside was enough of a curiosity to bait me into making the short climb to the top to check it out and to explore the area behind Dajia.

Few riders were out in the high temperatures and each protracted stop light made it feel like a barbecue pit. Superfluous stop lights disappeared in the ripples of heat in a bid to keep the air flowing over my body. It was one of those days where you approach an intersection and the only thing there is  the acrid stink of someone else's body odor still sizzling on the pavement.

On the northern edge of Dajia I took a right up Taichung Route 12, a.k.a. Chenggong Rd. (成功路), that climbs into the Anvil Hill Scenic Area, which is perched above the alluvial plain of the Dajia River.
The climb is short, but stiff and at the top I took a side road out toward the southern face of the hill.

I was really taken aback by how quickly the scenery had transformed from the slipshod concrete of Dajia township, to the etched green squares of rural Taiwan. The Dajia River Valley more resembled the picturesque agriculture of Yilan or Taidong than the notoriously dusty industrial hub of Taichung.
The road narrowed as it pulled upward, and I was soon faced with a little cyclocross action to get up to the highest section.
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I had a fill panorama of the entire Dajia plain, from Sanyi, all the way to the coast.
The site is popular with radio controlled glider hobbyists and I watched for a few minutes as they dive bombed the tombs below. I am not sure what that does for one's Fengshui, but nobody seemed worried.
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I took some time to think through my route, and decided to just continue along the Route 12. The heat combined with a bullying headwind would make for enough of a workout without killing myself.

There were no cars along the slick squiggle of asphalt that cut between the overgrowth that was spilling onto the roadway
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From the hillside I could see several possibilities for future adventures. The roads all zig-zag out toward Houli and Sanyi, so the Route 12 would make a great escape to or from the coast.
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After a tour of some rice fields and several of the invisible, grey businesses that seem to spring up in the immediate vicinity of gravel companies, I followed the river back to Dajia before retreating to a 7-11 for an ice cream. The headwind made the return into a hill climb.

In all, this makes a nice getaway in an area we tend to be resigned to just passing through out of rare necessity.