Sure, you could ride 90 kilometers from Hualien to Wuling Pass at 3,275 meters, and then turn around and ride back to the Pacific Coast. Or you could continue over the top of Wuling, descend to a guesthouse in Qingjing Farms at 1750 meters, and then return to Hualien via a more challenging route the next day.
More difficult than Wuling Pass? That's right. Lixing Industry Road, Nantou Route 89, connects Qingjing Farm in Nantou County with Lishan Township in Taichung County, and it's one of the roughest roads in Taiwan.
The road surface varies from asphalt, concrete, mud, gravel, steel plates, and concrete panels laid side by side to form a path across landslide scarred hillsides.
There's a final climb as the Lixing Industry Road approaches the Taichung County line, and from there it's a flat ride through the forest before a descent to Lishan.
Then the route leads up Highway 8 to Dayuling, where the road intersects with the route up to Wuling Pass. From there, it's a descent down through Taroko Gorge and back to the coast in Hualien.
Our group of eight riders left our guesthouse at Manbo Beach near the mouth of Taroko Gorge before dawn. We'd cycle 112 kilometers before the end of the day, so we wanted an early start.
Day 2 also started in the dark. Urs, John, Brent, Richard and I headed for Hualien via Lixing Road. Our route for the day totaled 167 km, giving us a two day total of 289 kilometers traveled, with 6000 meters of climbing.
The remaining three riders chose to retrace the route cycled the day before, returning to Wuling Pass before descending to Hualien through the gorge. We all met up again at the beach on the evening of the second day for pasta, pizza, and liquid refreshments.
Have you read enough? Are you ready to see these rides on video? Here they are.
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