The Taiwan Bicycle
Manufacturing Industry Review

Taiwan KOM Challenge 2012

Glenn Reeves

taiwan kom challenge 2012 taroko valley
At the 70km mark looking back along the Taroko valley the racers have ascended, 2600m elevation. Ahead lies the test of truth. Photo by 黃文生 who loves photography almost (almost ) as much as he does cycling.

“Oh…fuuccck, fuuhck” he breathed, looking at the next ramp just ahead. This is the mountain of truth, whichever way you go up it, and in this last 10 odd km section, the truth will out.

I was looking down from the roadside through the first switchbacks of the final ascent to the pass at Wuling sussing out a photo op. Nasty serpentine coils dishing out poison aplenty to the souls grinding their way through multiple 15-20% ramps. The photo op had crept up behind me and slid past in a whole world of pain

taiwan kom challenge 2012 mountain summit
Up in the far left corner that “V” is the finish. Your goal is to get there with dignity intact since there’s a lot of people watching you. Uhm…that’s not easy… Another photo by 黃文生 who at age 55 gave the hill his best shot.

This is what he needed to negotiate.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 climb
You don’t want to see this having barely recovered from a succession of switchbacks. You come out of ’em onto a wee flat section, look up and get smacked right in the chops.

This is what he saw.

Well, he’s almost a third of the way up here. He was simply saying out loud what many others also said out loud or screamed at their inner demons who were hell bent on convincing them to just give it up.

Luckily when you round the corner the gradient levels off a little. But plenty more where that came from in this non-Taiwan Cup.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 climb

You get to gaze wistfully back over the more moderate sections above the gorge leading into the final ramps that unfold endlessly, or so it seems.

You know the feeling.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 road

I guess Matteo Rabottini would have been hi-fiveing his coach having decided to give the event a miss this time round. The other two star performers invited to this year’s event who made the lineup, Anthony Charteau and Jeremy Roy, although competitive, were left way behind on the final run to the wind-swept line at 3275m.

Team KOM were pretty well KO’D.

As with last year’s lucrative Alishan Summit of Clouds event the winner took it out by 30 seconds. Denmark’s John Ebsen zipped up the grades in a record 3hrs 27 minutes hotly pursued by and the uber consistent David McCann, who was, nonetheless, 2 minutes off 2nd placed Peter Pouly‘s pace.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 top woman

The number 2 placed lady,梁穎儀 who I was sure must have been miles ahead of her nearest competition was making easy work of it. As it happened she was 10 minutes of the pace. 黃合旬 took it out in a winning time of 4:50.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 blow up

An international contender keeping pace not far to the rear, at least until the heaviest sections after Dayuling, soon found himself digging deep for as much spirit as he could find left within.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 leadout

Raphael Grinbaum led the peloton into the gates of hell at the foot of the climb–also known as Taroko Gorge–with a thumbs-up. He finished 3rd in the M50 division in a pretty awesome 4:52. Of course, 朱一平, his team-mate took out the division in a blistering 4:25.

taiwan kom challenge 2012 music

There were some who planned to make the hills alive with the sound of music. For most an extra bidon was more added weight that a body could bear — this guy has his guitar 😀

Many will be back next year. Many more will not be back. Whatever the case it does seem like the international profile of this event is building. Let’s see who amongst the who’s who of elite cycling will be up for the challenge in 2013.

For some other perspectives on the race, check out:
*Ebsen climbs 3,275m to conquer Taiwan KOM Challenge
*Peter Pouly

taiwan KOM challenge 2012

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