Chapter 2 Taiwan Travel: Day 3
Taiwan • 08 April, 2019 • by Jacky Lee
The final day of the trip came faster than I anticipated. Time certainly flies when you’re having fun in the saddle. The morning began with breakfast at 7:00am, then meet up at 7:30pm for departure.
Word on the street (anyone that’s done Wuling before) warned everyone to take it easy today. Pacing is critical to prepare yourself for the “last 10km”. The “last 10km” came up multiple times this trip. Poetically they called it 天堂路(Road to Heaven) and it’s the section before summiting Wuling, the highest road in Taiwan.
The air at 1700m elevation was chilly in the morning. We departed at an easy pace, and began with 300m of climbing.
At 14km in, we made a brief stop at . This bridge was built by the French in 1954, a popular destination for anyone travelling through here.
From here it was a steady 4% hill without too many sharp pinches.
Jay, Terence and I found ourselves pacing nicely in the same bunch. It didn’t take long before we reached the tunnel. This tunnel in marks the beginning of the “last 10km”. Some of us took a toilet stop for some strategic offload. I swallowed my last energy bar, hoping I don’t ever need to do the walk of shame.
The last 10KM
Immediately after we made a right turn at the tunnel, the road kicked straight up to a whopping 11%, and stayed there. It was like staring at a merciless wall. I found myself looking away at what’s ahead, staring at my handlebar was far less intimidating.
The hairpins here were the steepest I have ever ridden, sometimes at 20% at certain areas, where I had to do the delicate balance of wheelie vs. spinning out. To make things even harder, the high altitude made if difficult to breath, and my heart rate peaked only at 160. Each pedal felt heavier than usual. Fortunately Terence was my climbing buddy for the day, I don’t know how he’s doing this on a 36/25 gear ratio, bloody insane.
After an hour of agony, Terence and I finally made it to the summit. The pilgrimage was complete, and I couldn’t tell if my tears were from joy or the unforgiving freezing wind at 3275m elevation.
Today was a massive success, the pilgrimage to was as tough as advertised. I can’t imagine having to race the 100km from sea level to here. This was a humbling experience, and it’s motivating me to train harder, so one day I can attempt the Taiwan KOM.
From there, we had 4 support vans that drove everyone down to Taichung, where we had a deserving hot pot dinner.
This trip wouldn’t have been possible by the amazing crew & photographers who organised an entire 5 days itinerary.
Journal by Jacky Lee