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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Central Cross Island Highway Gets Paved: Magazine Features Taiwan's Toughest Climb

After a reader notified me that the Fall 2012 issue of Paved Magazine features an article about cycling in Taiwan. I was curious and downloaded the issue from the iTunes News Stand.

I have to admit, as a long-time resident of Taiwan and a frequent rider on its roads, I was skeptical and opened my new digitized magazine with a mixture of jaded "What did they fuck up this time?", and "I can't wait to take out my long knives and serve this up well-done for my readers."

I was absolutely wrong. This article is the best piece of cycling writing to cover Taiwan that this blogger has ever seen in print and it should serve as the gold standard for other writers and editors who hope to detail Taiwan cycling in pictures and words.

The Paved article is not the usual Taiwan Tourism Bureau talking points other writers are bound to adhere to in appreciation of a free trip on the TTB's dime or to please a big corporate sponsor.

This article by Bruce Minnigh and photographed by Stephen Wilde provides a vivid expose on what makes cycling Taiwan such an amazing and addictive way of life.

I can not recommend this article highly enough. There are a few minor quibbles here and there, but nothing I would care to nag about. This is really a solid piece of writing. It is honest and highly entertaining.

It is certainly worth the price of admission. The article can be purchased HERE.


The dull pain of lactic acid burned deep in my quads, and my head ached from altitude and dehydration. My will power was in danger of being trumped by a mounting list of physical impediments. I lowered my head and attacked another lung busting climb, gasping to extract as much oxygen as possible from the increasingly thin air. 
Suddenly the road began to level out, its steepness supplanted by a stiff wind sweeping across what appeared to be a giant alpine meadow. Though I couldn't see Hehuan Shan or Cilai Ridge, it was clear from the clouds racing by that I had crested the pass. I had done it. I had ridden my bike up one of the world's toughest paved roads.
For the next few hours we were treated to a deceptively swift descent through the mind blowing Taroko Gorge-- the namesake and main attraction of Taiwan's most diverse national park. The strikingly narrow heart of the gorge stretched for about 13 miles, hemmed in by marble walls that soar for over a thousand feet above the riverbed, often blocking out the sky.