Monday, April 03, 2017

Namaxia Redux

Above awesome cyclist Mark Roche takes a break on the epic first day of riding out to Namaxia.

A gray day, but great friends to go to Namaxia with. Unfortunately I planned a route that was too taxing for me, and so had to take it easy on day 2. But a good time was had by almost all... click READ MORE for pics and commentary...

ROUTE NOTES: We took the 172 over to the 175, and thence to the 174, the 3, the 20, and the 29. Total distance was 123 kms with 1900 meters of altitude gain, far too much. I screwed up the planning, forgetting how brutal the climbs are up to the tunnel on the 3 by the Nanhua Reservoir and also that you have to climb out of Jiaxian, no easy task after climbing all day. That said, except for Yujing and Jiaxian and the spots on the west coast plain, every meter of this route is in hills with excellent scenery. The 172/175 I will definitely do again. Highly recommended.

Our day began with boarding the 5:42 express to Chiayi and then the local train to Houbi, Tainan, arriving at 7:39. We were supposed to meet there but one of us was having bike trouble, so we eventually had to run down to Xinying to hook up. Fortunately alerted the night before, I had brought an extra part for the bike. Here Drew Kerslake and Mark Roche have a chat.

Dom, one of the best people to ride with, strong, easy going, quietly hilarious.

Edouard Roquette's interesting rear set up.

We picked up the 172 between Houbi and

Dom with his front mounted saddlebags and Mark roll up the 172.

Andrew, Ed, and Kitsch Liao face the camera as we take a rest.

Kitsch turns onto the 175 outside the resort town of Guanziling.

Closer to Guanziling, the road is lined with shops, wannabe hotels, and coffee places.

Speaking of wannabe hotels, the Fountainblean looks like it got its name from the common printer error of misprinting a U as an N upside down.

Leaving behind Guanziling. The 175 is rolling, hilly, and rides the ridge overlooking the plain. On a clear day it would be spectacular.

Brown signs indicate places of interest far away. Henglu is where the 174 and 175 meet.

Another shot of the countryside rolling away from the 175

Edouard Roquette. Although his name has too many vowels, he is a strong cyclist and good company on a ride.

Looking down on what we've climbed...

Kitsch powers through a turn.

Ed tries to clear a fallen tree from the road.

Resting at Henglu where the road crosses the ridge.

This area is where the moonscape begins, with many slopes made of piled layers of mud rock. Further south it turns into dessicated badlands.

In the horribly touristy town of Jiaxian.

Kitsch powers out of Jiaxian. We were way behind on time, and I was already pretty beat.

We headed out to Namaxia as the sun was setting, producing some excellent light.

A funeral? Some kind of memorial service? I usually don't photograph such things, but two of the girls gave me huge smiles when they saw me with camera raised, so I assumed it wasn't a wrong thing to do.

Where does this road go? Will have to ride it someday.

Namaxia in the approaching darkness.

Mark surges toward the sunset. After this we biked in the dark. Poor Kitsch's bike broke and he had to hitch a ride, but got to the hostel before all of us. The day was epic: 123 kms with 1900 meters of climbing, but it broke me. We didn't arrive until late and nearly missed dinner, since places close early in these villages.

We had stayed in Ertsun (second village). I don't recommend this because you have to climb to get there. Either of the two villages before it would have been better, but unfortunately it was a long vacation and firefly watching season, so everything was crowded. In the morning we rolled down to the road to Chashan. Lovely day in the offing...

Namaxia mornings are amazing.

Ed races forward, big grin for a beautiful day.

Drew had bike trouble as well. Here he waits for us at the entrance to the road to Cha Shan.

Mark poses for a shot with a striking background.

The opening ramp is steep, so I walked it. The views were lovely.

Lots of these simple structures everywhere.

The villages of Namaxia.

When you reach the top, this marvelous scene comes into view. Then you head over the ridge and are in tea country...

Drew, who has taught me so much.

Road quality is... varied.

The teapot that signals you're in tea country.

Tea plantations. We stopped at this one for tea...

The team races down the excellent descent with its gorgeous countryside views and alpine turns.

Tea time views.

We stopped at this place, and the owner gave us some excellent tea.

Tea, light, astrigent, perfect on that airy morning with its bright light. He wouldn't take any money. Mark had stopped at this place before, ducking out of the rain, and had been treated to tea as well. Really nice people, friendly and generous.

Morning dew in a flower.

The overlook.

Ed sets up his phone for a camera shot.

Last time we were here, this section was washed out. Lovely views of course.

Road quality = awful. But empty.

Here the road begins the descent into the tiny village of Alishan.


I stopped and asked these people if the B and B had coffee. You betcha! After we got free tea at the top, Alishan gave us snacks and free coffee. We chatted with them and I also bought a can of candied ginger, which had become my new favorite snack.

Drew at the overlook at Alishan. Definitely want to spend a few days in this village when the weather is warmer. But getting to it on a bike involves some pretty serious climbing. The grades up to the village from the reservoir are among the most brutal I've seen on a road of this size, and all other roads to involve some pretty high climbs.

View = excellent.

On the way to Dapu from Alishan village is this wonderful waterfall.

Water level in the reservoir was scary low.

I was pretty broken from the day before, so while they went over the 3, I took a flatter route back to the train line. Here I am at the entrance to the 182-1... which turned out to be the 183. Although the 182-1 has a detour, this road is still marked as the 182-1. Very annoying as I spent time and energy trying to find a connection which no longer existed.

Not a bad ride, but I was so broken by the first day I couldn't properly enjoy the second day with its outstanding weather. But great people on this ride made it an enjoyable experience.
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!


Anonymous said...

"Alishan village" is actually Chashan village in Alishan Township. A sweet little place, good for weekend activities.

Ed en Vadrouille said...

It's really great reading our biking weekend described with this much attention and care. Thank you for organising and writing this up, Michael!

Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures and description - thank you for sharing...