This ride over Hehuan Mountain down into Taroko has by far the most impressive landscapes I've seen in Taiwan. Up to 3,275 meters altitude then down to sea level. I really didn't expect to be doing South America-style climbs in this country but here I am slogging up 15% grades through the clouds, and I'm loving it.
Right out of the hotel door the climbing picks up where it left off yesterday. I get an early start knowing what's in store. I don't want to be riding in the dark through Taroko Gorge (sunset is around 5:30pm).
The climbing is hard but the pavement is perfect. All things being equal (assuming I'm in decent shape, well-fed, well-rested, no nagging injuries), this kind of climb is mostly psychological. It's just a question of patience, one push of the pedals after the other, regular breathing to keep calm, not psyching myself out thinking about altitude or grades or how much farther there is to go. Some of the cyclists I've passed do appear to be overthinking things, complaining, wasting energy needlessly. We're not in Bolivia going up over 4,000 meters on rock paths after all. And the chuckwagon will surely rescue them if anything gets too uncomfortable.
I reach the summit by 11:30. This should put me in good shape to get down to the coast before nightfall. There are tons of people on the last kilometer to the top, taking pictures and wandering around in the fog, more calls of jia you as I climb. It's pretty cold with the wind, I don't hang out long at the summit. It looks sunnier on the other side so that's where I'm headed.