Monday, November 25, 2013

Motao goes to Alishan

The Motao. Pure fun on wheels.

Swamped with work I did the only sane thing and ignored it to spend two lovely days biking over Alishan and nearby mountains. The Bike Gods rewarded my faith with prime weather. Even better, a friend who is introducing a new bike and motorcycle camera called the Motao to the market here sent me a free one to test on the trip. What fun I had! As you will see. Motao's Taiwan retailer is -- Tailung Hands. They have 11 stores in Taiwan from K-town to Taipei. You can find them in Breeze and Sogo. Unless I tell you a pic is from the Motao, it is from my Canon Powershot S95. Click on READ ME to enjoy the ride, videos, pictures... what a great time!

Usually we do this ride by riding down Rte 3 through Wufeng, Nantou, Mingjian, and Jhushan, where we pick up the 149. But this time I decided to take the train down to Ershui. That meant we could cut out 45 kms of four lane exhaust eating, stress inducing nightmare on the 3. From Ershui it was only about 12 kms to Jhushan, on the empty 141, across the Changyun Bridge, and then only a couple of kms on the odious 3 to the 149 in Jhushan. In this image Stephen Jack puts together his bike for the ride at the station. The other fellow on this ride was Mike AKA Merican Teachr. Here is my video of a couple of minutes of riding through Ershui town.

As this picture shows, it was going to be a brilliantly sunny day. Yet also cool. Perfect for riding.

We sped across the Changyun Bridge...

...and turned up the 149. Here Steve contemplates the lovely views along the 149. Highly recommend this road with its great views, tea farm and river gorge topography, and gentle grades. From Taichung this is a good century ride. You follow the 149 until it hits the 158, then return to the 3 over the 158, and then back to Taichung.

Tea farms on the 149.

Betel nut and tea bushes...

Leaving the tea farms to ride along the gorge.

From the 149 you turn onto the 149B and start climbing. Here Stephen contemplates the coming nasty grades.

Below the switchbacks on the 149B, tea pickers are hard at work.

Heading around a curve on the 149B.

All over Taiwan, as you ride in mountain areas, you can see people parked, using the free water from little streams to wash their cars.

Looking back on a set of switchbacks.

The Ten Thousand Year Gorge. Video of descending into the gorge.

We rolled down from the summit of the first ridge on the 149B, got drinks at the little yellow bridge, then started climbing up to the tunnel above Caoling. Here is the view back over the little rest stop and some nearby buildings.

Motao takes a break near the tunnel. Here is video of the approach to the tunnel.

Obligatory bike pic. Really too gorgeous a day, I seldom get such lovely days atop the 149B.

In Caoling we had lunch, cheap and filling. If you come this way, avoid Caoling, it is overrun with tourists. Stay in one of the bed and breakfast places on the 169 or 149.

The views are good... here's a couple of minutes of the descent out of Caoling. The sharp curves drop you into the valley of the rivers at the foot of Alishan.

In a moment we were enjoying the road at the base of Alishan as we neared the entrance to the park.

Looking back at Caoling.

A new bridge is going up here.

We headed for the old one in the distance there.

If you're headed for Laiji, you actually pass the point where the sign says LAIJI and keep going over the little red bridge, past the concrete company, and then here is where you turn onto the 155. Prepare to climb some more.

Laiji from the road into it. We left Ershui about 8:30, left Jhushan after breakfast at 9:40, and got to Laiji just before three, with a 45 minute lunch in Caoling. Total distance was about 70 kms, with probably 1200 meters of climbing. Hard work. Here is video of me rolling into Laiji.

Laiji is wonderfully relaxing, someday I am just going to spend a couple of days hanging out here. We got this great room because the place was packed with a tourist group from Taipei, older people hiking. They showed us pictures of their grandchildren, their grandchildren's English teacher, their daughters and sons, and generally were wonderfully energetic and friendly. Great people.

Here is me in our room, image by the Motao, which does both video (full HD baby) and stills (4000 x 3000). Haha. Brace yourselves. I had a lot of fun with the Motao taking selfies. Unlike other popular bike cams, this one has a screen in front, perfect for selfies. And the massive wide angle takes in EVERYTHING. And the wide angle distorts things so much, in some shots I actually look thin. O frabjous day!

Grabbing a Motao selfie in the morning in Laiji.

Leaving Laiji in the morning. Here's video of me leaving Laiji in the morning

Another magnificent morning. Soon we'd be taking off clothing, it was already so hot. Here Stephen, at the other end of the bridge, takes in the scenery.

And these are the easy grades.

Stephen takes a break above Laiji.

Looking back on the 149A to the 169.

Stephen images the tea rail system for getting things up and down steep slopes.

Not a cloud in the sky, the moon looking down, the sun behind. Does it get any better than this?

Tea and betel nut slopes seen from the 149A. Here's a couple of minutes of descending on the 149A.

Climbing up to meet the 169.

A Motao selfie where the 149A joins the 169. I may look relaxed, but I am quailing inside: the hardest part of the ride, a set of 15%+ grades, is next.

Looking back on the 149A.

I stopped where Stephen was resting at the top of one of the killer grades, and we looked down on this driver who had driven down the slope, gotten out, peed, then returned to the car, did a three point turn, and returned up the slope. No toilet at home, I guess. Here's some video of leisurely climbing after the tough part.

World of tea.

Love that feeling of looking back and saying "I climbed that."

Contemplating the view from the first overlook.

Damn good view it was....

So I tried a few selfies with the Motao. LOL.

Did get one good one with the Motao.

Although this ride is brutal, on a clear day it is worth every calorie expended. Tea pickers hard at work.

Tea farms.

Riding up to Taiho town.

As I got some shots of the town, this dog came over to make friends.

Next time I'll take that road....

Money on the bush. I stood here and panned the Motao.

Tea flower.

After Taiho you enter the bamboo forest and there's nothing to see for a couple of kms but bamboo. Finally you break out into an overlook at about 1500 meters. And see this....

Same thing, Motao. I have the Canon exposure set to 1/3 darker.

Then you look off into the distance and realize that there are farms on that mountaintop next to the massif in the middle of the picture. How can I get there? you wonder....

Couldn't resist getting out the Motao for some selfies. Fail!

Finally! This sign means you've reached the peak at just under 1700 meters. Whew! Now I could roll down to Fenchihu and grab lunch.

We reached Fenchihu about 11:15. I had a manly lunch in Fenchihu. Yum.

From Fenchihu we rolled another 7 kms to Shijhuo, then turn onto the 159A, one of the best roads in Taiwan. It was a bit hazy, but you can get an idea of its magnificent views.

This road is a special experience, and I seldom take many photos. You'll just have to come see it. Here's video of me descending on the 159A for a couple of minutes.

One last Motao pic. I love this one. Then it was back to Chiayi and train home. 75 kms, over 1200 meters of climbing on Sunday. Another great ride in the mountains of Taiwan.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Domenic said...

really love the photos, Michael- especially the one the tea flower and the one of your companions rolling up to taihe. Great!

Anonymous said...

One of Taiwan's "hidden" rides.

Anonymous said...

Your Motao selfie looks fish-eye.

Anonymous said...

I clicked on the link you provided,, but could not find anything motao under it.
I googled, duckduckgoed, also no motao.

trace said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris Neumeyer said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Ashish said...

Awesome photos MT. Matao does take good photos. How much does it cost? Any idea?

Michael Turton said...

Under $7000, Ashish. The Motao photos are all identified as Motao, all others from my Canon. The photos are solid and the vids are great.