Sunday was the occasion for 1168 cyclists to attempt a short but very challenging ride in Miaoli County. The course began at Wen Shui (汶水) on Route 3, elevation 200m and terminated deep a good way into Taiwan’s Central Mountains at Lu Chang (鹿場), elevation 836m. Total climbing was 1300m.
A “Never Stop” (永不放棄) organization event, it attracts a large number of recreational cyclists but also a number of strong riders who use the event as an official test against the clock.
The main aspect of this challenge was the last 4km climb to the finish at grades ranging between 15-25% with barely any letup that made it tough. Elevation map and Google topography map available here.
The route from the start followed a casual 15km of undulating cycling along Highway 3 until the first climb of around 5km and 477m of elevation gain. Then a long descent followed by some gentle climbing to the final 4km of climbing and very intense grades.
Come Saturday afternoon it was off to this cosy homestay located at the midway point of the route cyclists would take on Sunday.
I highly recommend it as one of the best of many to choose from in this area.
There’s plenty to see and do with a great walk along the river and lots of photo opportunities.
As long as you watch your step, you won’t have any trouble from these.
There were plenty of these using the river walkway railing as a convenient way to get around. Just be careful where you put your hand.
The water looks like it’s choked with green weed, but it’s actually perfectly clear. With the sound of the river in the background it is a great place to unwind.
Daybreak Sunday 4.30am, it was onto the road to get to the start, down the mountain. (Thanks to Rui-Yi for the photo).
I have a chat with Coach Chen and William about the course.
At 6.00am the group headed out with the strong riders contending for the top positions first to hit the main climb that tops out at the 19km point. William is 3rd placed here. He eventually placed
4th 1st overall in a time of 1hr 49min. Zhu Gen-Shen, who placed second, is leading at this stage.
The first 50 or so riders all convincingly attacked the climb.
Not long after, the more casual rider began to make an appearance.
Rui-Yi who rides one of my frames was positioned well. She completed in 3hrs 30min.
The ladies were out in force today and really getting into it. There’s a photo album featuring quite a few of them I put together available here.
Some participants were dressed for a good time, maybe to distract themselves a bit from the last 2km at the top which were at least 10% average.
I saw quite a few cyclists on my frames, one blue
and one green to mention two. These legs are used to climbing!
Coach Chen was cruising nicely, completing in 2hrs 28min.
There were quite a few younger riders including this one, Ian Zhang. He made the top of the climb pretty easily.
This is steeper than it looks!!
Positioned for the sprint to the crest.
Once you have done the descent and headed around towards Lu Chang, the final climb begins with a 20% section that rises away from the river.
The 2nd placegetter(left) pushes hard with William just to his left and the other top placegetters giving it all they have on this first part of the climb to the finish.
Not long after Glenn tackled the same climb finishing in 2hrs 6min.
(Source for these photos http://album.blog.yam.com/kpmp&folder=8704331)
As you come around the corner from this first part you see the finish in the distance (2/3 up 1/3 from the left). Getting there involves getting through the steepest climbs.
A short 8% section to give you a bit of a break.
Then it’s all uphill.
Ian Zhang was not the only one to find most of these grades too tough. Probably 70% of cyclists had to walk the steepest sections.
An MTB with it’s incline-friendly gear ratios made it relatively easy for some.
This was a common sight. Straining against the forces pulling them back, road bikers on double (compact) chainrings wander back and forth across the road as they refuse to get off and walk.
William chats with the top placegetters at the finish. It was, basically a walk in the park for these riders. As it happened, their times are all 2min more than they should be because the organizers let them race pass the small turnoff to the finish.
The idea was that 50km was hardly a challenge so they had them race further up the mountain before turning them around and guiding them into the finish.
They line up to get their certificate and official record of completion.
These two (twins?) were in the first 30 to finish and had their eyes open every km of the way.