Monday, June 11, 2012

Rainy Day Northern Cross Island Highway

Another excellent Northern Cross-Island Highway Ride this weekend with good friends Andrew, Dom, and Jeff, as well as Patrick, whom I had never met before. Previous rides on the northern cross here, here, and here (map of route). Sorry about the light posting last week...

As always, we start at the Yongning Metro station at the 7-11 on Zhongyang Rd. Next, we ride out Zhongyang Rd to the 7B and take that up to the 7 which goes over to Yi-lan. Here Jeff starts out.

Dom cruises up the 7B. We usually skip this too-urbanized section by picking up a side road over to the 7B.

The opening climb to Sanmin/Fuxing is probably the most difficult climb of this ride, lots of work, low rewards. One of the attractions of this ride is that it keeps getting better and better, however.

Some people needed help.

Water break as the others waited for me to catch up.

Bugs enjoy a rest too.

At the convenience store in Sanmin I snapped these very cool sleeves.

Beyond this point the number of cyclists diminishes mightily as most of the local riders on this route merely climb to here and then turn around.

We always stop for lunch just past Little Wulai here.

Heading out after lunch, it appeared rain would show up sooner or later, but we mostly had good weather.

Lots of people out enjoying the mild weather.

Once you're past Little Wulai, the road narrows, and traffic falls as you get deeper into the mountains.

Jeff climbs. Eventually the road reaches over 700 meters before descending to Lower Baling where we overnight.

Ominous clouds....

A local village. Shortly after this a light rain began falling and I put my camera away.

In Lower Baling. A well deserved reward after a long climb.

Behind Jeff and Drew in this picture is a van unloading bicycles for riders from a local university eMBA program. They ate lunch in Lower Baling and then rode on to Mingchih Forest station. The next day a rider from the group I met said they had ridden all the way from Yongning Metro to Lower Baling, then up to Mingchih, that same day as we had, though they left at 9. We never saw this posse of weekend warriors on overpriced carbon pimpmobiles pass us on the road.

Lower Baling.

Sunday was a day that dark clouds wrestled with the sun, until at last the rain won. But in the morning we had excellent weather. It's usually a better choice to overnight in Lower Baling so you can climb out of Lower Baling in the morning before the clouds roll in, rather than go all the way to Mingchih.

We stopped for lunch on the bridge outside Baling, below the resort of Lalashan, as we always do.

Hotels line the top of the ridge above the ridge. The views must be amazing.

Clouds and sun wrestle among the high peaks.

The long climb out of Baling, 12 kms, peaks at over 1200 meters before one of my favorite descents on the island. It is only a ~6.5% grade, not difficult at all.

Lots of people had driven up to enjoy the views and photograph butterflies.

It stayed mostly sunny during this opening stage of the ride..... there were plenty of bugs out...

...including this bug with an old man's face....

Taking a break.

Although they looked like tiny blossoms lining the branch....

...they were actually bugs.

The last good weather of the day in the mountains....

We dove downhill -- I seldom take pictures, it's just too much fun to stop -- and then started the climb to Mingchih Forest Station.

At Mingchih we stopped for water. I caught this bad guy lying in wait above a hedge...

The fog began to roll in as we rode around the ridge. The views here are stupendous, but alas, they were buried in fog.

Then it was downhill in the rain in fog on slick roads. We ran into the university people as they were leaving Mingchih for the downhill. They had one person crash in the poor weather on their way down the 10 km descent, the most dangerous part of the trip.

Near the bottom the rain ceased but we ran into another obstacle, a large slide blocking the road through which traffic was allowed to pass only ten minutes every hour. That guy operating the power shovel had a pretty massive pair.....

At least the views were nice.

Jeff waits.

On the Yilan plain angry clouds awaited.

Taking the Camry out four-wheeling! But as it turned out, this was the road out of the little village above the river there and there was a constant flow of vehicles through the watery path.

We outwaited the rain with a long lunch.... then the run into Yilan city and trains, planes, buses, and cars back home....thanks guys, for another great ride. Why don't you come out for the next one, dear reader? We're going up again in July.
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Michael said...

Isn't that picture of Drew and Miller in Lower Baling just like last years?

Great riding guys! I'm envious

Domenic said...

Glad you snagged: A) the girl being pushed up the mountain by her boyfriend, and B)the sedan in the river. Great post and great ride!

James.M said...

Nice ride fellas!

When in July? I may just be approaching the level of recovery where I can make a ride like that. Maybe.