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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sima Xian Shan: The Alternate Route


I started out my morning unsure of where I would be riding. A few factors were in play and with a later start, iffy weather and even less predictable legs, I headed north at a good clip. I felt amazing. I chopped wood all the way to Dongshih and managed to continue at a good clip without leaving the big ring all the way through Dongqi Rd. 

As I crested the hill above the Da-an River, I felt the allure of the road up Sima Xian Shan; a nasty climb between Zhuolan and Dahu. 

A section of the main road was completely wiped out last year, and the word was that passage was impossible. I thought I might see if the situation had improved over the past year, and if not... I would just get a shorter ride and enjoy the afternoon. 


I blazed along and caught up with a couple riding road bikes. I stopped to ask if they had any info on a road crossing the mountain. They both thought the road was closed and were just going up the river, only to return the same way. 

I passed another group of riders all kitted out on expensive road bikes. When I hollered to see if they had come over the mountain they stopped and looked at me as if I had my hair on fire. 

Motioning like he might offer me a chocolate bar and a shiny trinket.... "You speak Chinese?"

Of course I had just shouted at him in Chinese, so my answer was a resounding "no" while I asked again in Chinese if they had come from the Dahu side. 

"Where are you going?" one of the guys asked.

" I'm going to Dahu fro this side", I replied. 

"No, you're going the wrong way. You need to turn around. You need to take the Highway 3", he explained. 

" The road past Tian Gou, do you know if it is open?", I asked again. 

*look of confusion*

"You know, the road that goes past Tian Gou down the other side to Dahu... is that road open. I know it was closed this year..." I continued. 

"Dahu.... from here.... but that is climbing....", he said with a perplexed tone. 

I waved them off and found the last police station on the river. 

The cop, told me the 中像道路 was open and goes from Xiangbi Village to Dahu over the mountain. 


I was rapidly on my way and eating some serious bitterness on the opening ramps. 


It is not as majestic or scenic as the old road, but it offers some spectacular ramps and a few vistas worthy of the effort. 

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The Miaoli fog came sweeping in from offstage and the temperatures plummeted. 

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I finally met a few riders coming over the hill and we exchanged info on the road conditions each side could expect. 


I dropped down some incredible concrete chutes, carful not to pinch flat on the drainage grates that spit the roads every 50 meters.  

Suddenly I was spit back out onto the river of the Miaoli 61-- as awesome a road as there has ever been or ever will be. 


After a fuel stop in Dahu, I was again plugging back to Taichung at as high a speed as I could will into my legs. 

It is one of those days where the accomplishment is the reward. 



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