From Central Taiwan to Peak Wuling (3,275 Meters)
For cyclist , it’s not like going to Taiwan if you haven’t reached the peak of Wuling at an altitude of 3,275 meters. The climb has become even more popular now because of the Taiwan KOM Challenge. However, it can actually be reached from several places. Last Saturday (October 19), I and several colleagues tried it from the middle of Taiwan, in the Puli area.
Yes, the most famous route to Wuling is the route used by the Taiwan KOM Challenge route. Namely from Hualien on the east side. The total distance is 100 km from the sea side to the peak. Every year, many famous racers participate. Some friends from Indonesia, including our friend Edo Bawono, have participated.
This year, I and several colleagues visited Taichung Bike Week 2019. A bicycle industry meeting that took place October 16-18. While in Taiwan, we also brought bicycles. Wuling is the main goal.
I, John Boemihardjo, and Raymond Siarta (Johnny Ray) were guided by a friend from Singapore. A professional bike fitter , Choonwei Tay. He had been to Wuling several times from various directions.
Because in Taichung, we can’t reach Wuling from the Hualien side. Too far. Must go up to Wuling, down again to Hualien. So, we took a route that was no less interesting, but maybe less famous. Namely from the west side, from a small town called Puli, in Nantou County.
Usually, the cyclist in the Taichung area climbs Wuling from Puli. The distance is indeed shorter to Wuling, “only” 53 km. But uphill still towards a height of 3,275 meters. Because Puli is at an altitude of 445 meters, so we have to climb more than 2,700 meters in a distance of only 53 km.
From Taichung, we first drove around 1.5 hours to Puli. Just get off the bicycle, get ready at a 7-Eleven mini market. That Saturday morning, there were many other groups also getting ready there.
Apparently, there are other reasons why this one mini market will be the starting point. Apparently, next to it is a park, as well as an important stone monument. The stone is a geographical center marker, aka the midpoint of Taiwan. So, we will climb Wuling from the midpoint of the industrial nation.
After the compulsory photo together, we start. Choonwei initially guided in front. But basically the road is going to get to the top. Don’t mind the small turns.
Realizing we were going uphill for so long, we adjusted our speed. Not at all forced in the first 15 km, when the road is basically rolling uphill smoothly. Then we reach a tunnel. “Now the climb has officially begun,” Choonwei said.
Yep, since the tunnel, the road continues uphill without a break. Continue to range at a slope of 6 percent. Then, after the 25th km, the slope increased to 9 percent, occasionally touching 12 percent.
At km 33, we stopped to rest at a 7-Eleven again. Our driver said , this is the last mini market. After this, there is no more place to buy food and supplies. Though still up 20 km, still far from the summit.
And after that, there are only two very short “derivatives” for resting feet. The rest is very often at a slope of 9 percent. Occasionally touch 12-13 percent.
At km 46, there is one more location to stop. Our car is waiting there, ready to fill water and add snacks.
Yes, only seven kilometers left. We are advised to stop 2 km before finishing, to take pictures in writing markers that are popular with tourists. Namely the words “Taroko National Park.”
Because it’s Saturday, there are so many cars and buses going upstairs. In fact, the road is quite narrow, so vehicles sometimes have to take turns from two directions. If you get to the top stop, the bike must stop too.
In fact, the last seven km tilted once. Repeatedly touched 13 percent. Even before the writing board reached 16 percent. Because the altitude is in the range of 3,000 meters, the air has also thinned. Although not cramped, legs begin to limp. Oxygen supply begins to decrease.
“My head is very dizzy,” I’m Johnny Ray, who continues to fight toward the summit.
From the blackboard, the peak of Wuling was visible. Still 2 km above. But the road is still winding, so the 2 km doesn’t seem to end. The slope is constant at 9 percent.
Along the way, we saw so many cyclist guided bike. Some lean their bodies and bicycles to the safety fence. This route is indeed not an easy challenge!
In the end, we reached the top. Very crowded. Many tourists. Whether riding a bicycle, riding a motorcycle, or riding cars and buses. The clock was around 1:00 p.m. Even though we started around 07:20. The total trip is around 5.5 hours!
I checked my Garmin. The total riding time is 4 hours and 35 minutes. A total stop and photos almost an hour. Within 53 km, I climbed 2,740 meters. Burns about 3,000 calories.
John Boemihardjo climbed it nearly 3,000 meters. Because he got to the top first, then down again 2 km to wait for us on the board of Taroko National Park, then come up again.
As a comparison, the most famous uphill event in Indonesia, Bromo KOM Challenge, the total uphill is not up to 30 km, to an altitude of about 2,000 meters.
The uphill character is similar. But Bromo KOM is only steep at the top. While towards Wuling is much longer, and dozens of percent are scattered in several places.
Once we reached the top of Wuling, we carried our bicycles up the stairs to the altitude signboard. It says “3,275 meters.” I spoke with John, this is the second highest point we have ever reached. Our highest record is at the top of Independence Pass in Colorado, USA, which reaches 3,687 meters above sea level.
After that, we went up in clothes and got in the car. Down to the bottom. Before getting to the bottom of the ramp, we stopped at a famous restaurant. Typical treats are grilled chicken. The chickens are big, and we ordered two whole chickens for five (with the driver ).
Satisfied “broken” uphill, satisfied eating delicious chicken.
Then sleep soundly in the car back to Taichung.
Come back sometime again, try the “main menu” 2 notes & in Taiwan. Namely uphill Wuling from both sides … (azrul ananda)