Sunday, September 23, 2012

Simaxianshan Attempt II

The morning offered spectacular views of the sheer walls of the gorge and the mountains behind. This area is easily accessible from Taichung.

Set out today with my partners in climb Domenic Alonge and Charles Tsai to ride up to Simaxianshan, circle it, and ride back to Taichung. This is the second time I've tried to do this, and the second time I've failed. It was a lovely day, however, and we did manage to get in 110 kms with about 1200 meters of climbing through the gorgeous terrain along the Da-an River. Click on READ MORE to see more...

Clad in the pizza delivery scheme of Famous Bikes in Taichung, Dom sets forth.

Heading up 3 to Dongshih.

Dongshih town in the early morning.

A gorgeous day in the mountains ahead.

Charles in the morning sun.

We headed out of Dongshih up Dongji Road, one of the prettiest little roads in the area. Very enjoyable going up or down -- the grade is easy and the greenery is wonderful.

This looks like one of those relocation communities for aborigines.

Behind Dongshih is a land of orchards.

A ruined building guards a curve. Evocative, eh?

The view at the top, 595 meters. In the distance the white lines on the mountains are the mushroom sheds of Hsinshe, I think.

Going over and down the switchbacks.

Our goal: the community of Shuangji on the Da-an River.

Resting in Shuangji, Charles describes bike equipment.

The world flows under Charles' wheels.

Crossing one of the bridges.

Just past that bridge is the first tough climb.

Riding through a local community

The first dam. Just past here we turned and headed in to Xiangbi ("Elephant nose"). For some strange reason both Dom and I had formed the erroneous impression that the road on the south bank did not go through to Tiengou. Thus, we crossed over to the north bank.

So we climbed through Xiangbi and got on this small road. Good views, no cars. And with good reason....

Some of the excellent views....

.... and the reason for the light traffic. The road on the north bank is in awful condition, slumping and overrun with landslides, branches, and gravel. Not only is it difficult to navigate, but it consists of a series of brutal grades, up and down, up and down. It quickly wore us out.

Lovely views, though

Finally we reached a road junction, where I grabbed a pic of this youthful terror of the local insect population. We misread a sign and headed downhill, to the river. Totally demoralized, tired, and hungry, we crossed the bridge and turned back to Taichung. Simaxianshan had beaten me again.

We stopped for lunch and a chat with the locals at this restaurant, who gathered round to interrogate us. Naturally, this village had a set of brutal 20% grades heading up to it. I don't think I've ever done so many nasty little grades on one ride.

Zooming home along the south bank.

Weirdly, the signmaker decided to literally translate Xiangbi as 'trunk" producing the formulation Trunk Tribe.

Heading home by the dam.

Stopping to view some local cross-river transportation.

We climbed the nasty switchbacks up to Shuangji village in the distance there, and then rolled down Dongji Road and home.

Outside my house the egrets were having a conference.

Hope to see you on the roads next time!
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