Friday, November 11th, 2016
The elevation data I can find for this Puli-Hehuan Mountain-Taroko ride says 5,500 meters of climbing over 145 kilometers. I split the climbing roughly in half, booking a place for the night 40-odd kilometers and 2,500 meters up Hehuan Mountain. The hotel looks like one of the last ones before civilization peters out at the higher elevations. I've got my work cut out for me over the next two days, but once I'm over the top on day 2 I should have a good 80 kilometers of downhill to the coast.
After breakfast I hang around Puli to do some work on the laptop and check out the city a little bit. There is a hill on the edge of town the top of which is designated the "geographical center of Taiwan". Apparently when the Japanese arrived this was the center point for their surveys of the country. It's actually a steep walk up a whole bunch of steps to get to the top, not quite what I was expecting. Nice views of the city below.
The serious climbing starts about 10 kilometers east of Puli. From here on up it's pretty much a continuous climb with stiff grades, I'm guessing around 1,700 meters of elevation gain over 10 to 15 kilometers. The road follows a river gorge then splits off up over a series of ridges.
Lot's of people yell out jia you (an exhortation like "come on!" or "keep it up!") from cars and scooters as they pass me.
I reach the hotel about 4:30, but not before getting lost. Google Maps data for Taiwan addresses is not the greatest. Since I can't read road signs (most are in English as well, but not all, and for some reason not many in this area). I actually went by the hotel a couple of times but they only had a sign in Chinese and Google wanted to send me somewhere else. I end up asking a couple of people before I find someone who knows where it is. It's a little chilly up here. I drop my stuff in the room and ride up the road until I find a place with an open view to the west, I have a feeling there are nice views of the sunset from up here. I am not disappointed.
After my huge dinner I collapse into bed. The room has no heat but I am elated to find that the mattress has a heated pad. Just what I need from my surprisingly sore muscles. My legs don't usually get sore like this from the bicycle, I suspect the culprit is having walked up all those stairs this morning. Funny thing about the bicycle is that it is a very specific kind of muscle training that doesn't really apply to other activities. I've made the mistake several times of overdoing it when walking or running because I'm in great cardiovascular shape from the bike but my muscles aren't really prepared for the different type of exercise. Soreness aside, I'm in a great mood having seen that amazing sunset. Another big climb awaits tomorrow...