wow. it seems a very nice description.
I know , I know , I should not laugh…but
I think I know that guy.
I wonder if he bumped his head on the way up.
Did my first Wuling with @ranlee yesterday.
I was looking forward to the event because it is truly one of the greatest cycling tests in the world, especially for climbers. The longest climbs I’d ever done prior to this are around 1200m. At 3275m, Wuling is so much more than that.
We set off at 6:00am with air horns blasting in our ears. It was a nice leisurely roll up to the Taroko bridge, and then a left to start up the gorge. My plan was to take it easy for the day, not be tempted by the front group, and conserve energy, really having no idea how my body would react to such a long climb, and to altitudes I hadn’t ridden at in almost 10 years.
However, the front group took it fairly slow up the gorge and so I decided to stick on. I did not regret this, since the pace wasn’t too bad and it was an incredible thrill to pace with 20 or 30 really fast riders up a traffic-calmed Taroko Gorge. I have been to the gorge many times and have a lot of memories there, and have always wanted to ride it. Flying up it with the front group was the highlight of the day for me, and really the highlight of cycling in general for me since I rediscovered the sport last year.
When we got to Tianxiang, the group immediately thinned, with the real climbers attacking off the front and digging in for the battle to beat PRs. I had never even been past Tianxiang on the Central Cross-Island Highway, so I dialed it down to tempo and got ready to enjoy the view.
The next 50km or so are fairly uneventful. I rode in for about 25km with two guys from a club I didn’t recognize, and a girl from the Liv team. This helped somewhat, as the road has flat-ish sections where the draft is noticeable. Eventually we got strung out and I was on my own again. I stopped at the 47km rest stop for water and a banana.
As everyone and their mother had warned me, the real pain starts in the last 15 or 20km. I was actually confused about the total route length (80km or 90km? turns out it’s 86) and final elevation (3000, 3300, or 3700? it’s 3300), so I wasn’t entirely sure when I was getting into the tough part and how long I still had to go. Don’t do this.
In the end, it didn’t matter anyway. The combination of altitude, increasing gradient, and already having 2500m of climbing in my legs was so punishing that no amount of route knowledge would have helped me.
It’s been a long time since a hill beat me, but the last 15km of Wuling did it. I’m struggling to find words to describe it, because it’s really indescribable unless you’ve done it. It’s easy to describe the joy of riding a bike, and especially climbing on a bike, and it’s not too much harder to explain how the suffering is part of that joy.
But the hurt locker that Wuling puts you in is truly a mental trial like no other.
When I finally made it to the top, I was overcome by the emotion of the moment. It didn’t seem possible that it had been so hard, and that it was over. It was so much more than I could have imagined as we started out that morning: more altitude, more pain, more fun, and more emotion.
As I sat on the viewing platform and looked out at the unlikely vista which can only exist so close to the sea in the bizarre geologic freakshow that is Taiwan, all the ups and downs of the past ten years of my connection to this place came flooding over me: all that the island has given, and all that it has taken away. The small part I play in its daily movements, and the ultimate insignificance of any of it next to the relentless forward march of the great forces that carve mountains.
I think mountaineers climb the mountain to find fellowship with it, but we cyclists just thrash our legs against the gears in a futile attempt to overcome. Pitiful creatures, really.
I was humbled by Wuling and don’t know if I’ll ever be back, but I do know that one way or another, I’m glad I went.
Wow, what a write-up. Maybe someday.
f-in a that write up put mine to shame
Need to do a proper ride… for which I need to set up my bike first!
if you put as much effort into fixing your bike as you put into degrading your avatar, you’d be all ready by now.
i see the rats have taken over.
They are about to spawn. But they are still working on it.
Nice. Today I wouldn’t mind to have done some ride after work but I went from one place to another until pretty much now… let’s see what I can do tomorrow
Like @marasan, I made it out for a quick spin yesterday evening on the paths. Amazing weather: clear skies, no pollution, low humidity. You get like 3 days a year like that in Taipei.
I also snuck out for a ride yesterday…but failed to stop and take a picture of the clear skies and clean air.
My excuse? Savoring the moment. Just like @okonomiyaki said, we don’t get many days like this in Taipei.
If I get the chance I’ll ride right before the Typhoon arrives. Have done it before in very similar situations. But I need to buy some water, eggs and beer first…
Wooooow, I hate that I have to be in the office today.
Wow, that’s something you don’t see every day!
I’m in the office today…
If Monkey Mountain is your office, please give me an e-mail address so I can send you my CV.