Saturday, May 16, 2015

Guguan with a twist

Fisherman cluster in front of a water gate above Dongshih on the river.

There are two rides I do just for the workout, the 125 km run down to the Chiayi HSR station, and the 115 km climb and return to Guguan. Today I wanted to do it to test my healing leg (verdict: leg is good). The Guguan ride is pretty enough, but the traffic makes it painful. Today we found an alternative that saves much pain. Click READ MORE for the story...

Route notes: Guguan is not a pleasant ride, because of the traffic issues. It's pretty enough, and the climbs are easy. On the way up, follow the 8 on the north side of the river until you reach the 21, then go down to the bridge to Guguan. That avoids much unpleasantness. However, you can avoid 17 kilometers of unpleasantness on the road that runs down the riverbed, if you like. Today we took it on the way back. Above the dam (Google map link) you cross a suspension bridge (star) and then ride through the aboriginal village. In the rear of the village there's a small black tarmac road that takes you in miniature roller coaster style to the dam. At the dam pick up the flat road that runs down the center of the riverbed. Don't believe Google maps -- look at the satellite pictures. It goes all the way to Dongshih, 17 kms, downward with one tiny incline, and completely flat. The surface is awful in places, heavily cratered, with long stretches of hardpack gravel, and irruptions of bad concrete -- be sure you have good tires and spare tubes -- but it's easy, mostly decently paved, and avoids the traffic on the 8. Bring plenty of water as there is no place to stop. You experience the valley in a new way on that road, which is always nice.

As we climbed out of Dongshih, there was some kind of running activity going on. Running has replaced biking as the activity de jour.

Weatherwise, it was perfect, with distant peaks clearly visible.

Note the flat road down in the riverbed there. That's what we took back. Gorgeous day, one of the best I've had on a mountain ride.

The heat was brutal, near 40C. Climbing was a slog.

Lots of people out fishing today.

Fenton, a former professional rider, still rides with a casual power that amazes me.

Heading back. Steve suggested that we try that road in the riverbed and see how far down it went. I thought "Why not?" Turned out to be a fantastic decision.

We crossed at the suspension bridge above the dam, and wound through the village to its rear, where a little black tarmac road took us to the dam and then... the gravel truck road in the riverbed.

The road looks inviting as you descend off the dam.

A group of students was river running at the point where the road crosses the river on a slippery steel bridge.

We really enjoyed a new perspective on an old ride. You can see that it is mostly decent pavement...

Steve winds through a turn.

A lonely spot for a pinch flat.

The road flattens and expands as you near Dongshih. Long sections here are hardpack gravel crap, very boneshaking.

We made our way through the fruit farms back to the 8 just east of Dongshih. Highly recommend the riverbed road if you want to avoid the crappy traffic, and for a change from what is usually a very formulaic ride.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

We have doe some great rides together but this will rank as one of the best