WuLing from the West Route Summary:
- Starting Location: Geographic Center of Taiwan, Nantou (地理理中心埤,南投).
- Length: 55km. Highest elevation: 3275m.
- Hill profile: Long, extreme hill climb.
- There are many events that ride this route. Go for the one that has the fewest participants. When there are too many participants it will be extremely jammed near the top, with cars squeezing through each others and forcing cyclists to stop and walk their bikes (not cool!).
- More traffic at CingJing Farm (清境農場).
- Good for: Blood and glory.
- Route Highlights:
- Riding in the dark (5am).
- Big mountain river valley.
- Open mountain basin town.
- Riding along the mountain ridge.
Wuling is the highest point in Taiwan that is accessible by cars and bicycles. In a previous event I rode it from the east, going through the famous Taroko Gorge. Now it’s time to ride it from the west starting from Puli (埔里), the major town in the middle of central Taiwan.
Due to the heavier traffic on this route, the ride starts very early at 5am in the dark.
The ghost riders heading toward the starting point.
Long line of people…
The starting point supposedly has a monument indicating the geographical center of Taiwan, but I couldn’t find it in the dark.
Crossing the starting point and the crowd heads onto Route #14, the route that cross the Taiwan mountain from the west to the east.
Riding in the Taiwan mountain valley at early morning is a very strange experience. Everything is at a gray-scale. The morning mist adds another layer of mysterious feel.
Remind me of the Stranger Things…
Unlike the playful river valley scenery in the earlier section of Route #14 , here mountains at the sides become big, steep and tall, as if they are gonna close in at any minutes.
The tree and dawn.
A lonely house in the valley.
Japanese style hot spring resort.
Big mountains at every sides.
Beautiful dawn sky.
Route #14 eventually leaves the valley and starts descending up the mountain. Before th descend it passes through a small town of Nan Feng (南豐村)
Taiwan-styled pot grilled chicken signs.
At the beginning of the descend lies the monument for “The People Forbidden Pass”(人止關). It’s named as it because during the Qing Dynasty the Han people were not allowed to pass here and enter aboriginal people’s territory.
The three blocks there are written with Mandarin for the “People Forbidden Pass.”
Cliff at the Pass.
Narrow gorge view here at the pass.
Cyclists resting at a vista point.
Th left side seems to be a major sliding area.
After passing the Pass the route starts a few switch-backs to climb all the way to the mountain ridge.
Can you find the hidden peacock?
Nail it on the wall!
On the top the road goes to the other side of the mountain. There is a side road that heads to Aowanda (奧萬大), a popular place for viewing maple leaves in the Winter.
The side road to Aowanda.
Cyclists resting at the flat top of the road.
A rare short descend.
Here the route passes through the WuShe Incident Memorial Park. During the Japanese Occupation Era here the aboriginal people raised a big rebellion against the Japanese people. The incident was later adapted in the film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.
It said “Mouna Rudao, the hero against emperor Japan.”
Once passed the WuShe Memorial comes RenAi Town center. Here Route #14 separates into two: the original #14 and the Route #14 Jia (台14甲), which is what we are going to Wuling.
RenAi Town center view.
Heading toward right onto #14 Jia.
Mountain basin. The town below might look low, but it’s actually nearly 4000 feet above sea level.
While the mountain town scenery is great, like Sun Moon Lake this area also suffers from over development. With real estate developers “work” together with local officials, many tasteless hotels and “recreational areas” appear here, sometimes not just destroying natural beauty but putting tourists in danger of mud-slides.
English style (?) hotel…
CingJing Farm, the most popular attraction here, featuring (fake) alpine farm activities like sheep herding show.
If there’s a gas station you know there are lots of cars.
Beautiful mountains at the un-developed side.
The “Rainbow House”. They should convert it into a gay bar. That would make more sense.
This cool old man keeps saying “keep it up!” to our cyclists. Awesome.
Rest a bit and I will rise. The red banner behind says “The Warehouse Cyclist Team”.
At about 35km lies the final rest stop before heading up Wuling.
The control point at 2200m elevation. Crossing here the route begins to go along the mountain ridge line.
YuanFeng (鳶峰), a parking lot at about 45km. The cloud happens to make the sign white and visible.
One of the beauty of the west route toward Wuling is that you can continually see the road you are heading to in a distance.
The beginning of a major switch-back along the route.
Big mountain rock, small cyclists.
At about 50km lies the rest stop KunYang (昆陽). It also marks the west entrance into Taroko National Park.
Taroko National Park entrance mark.
The final stretch to Wuling. The thin line that cuts through the green mountain side all the way to the right is the road.
Don’t be fooled by the seemly gentle-slope road at far end. It’s actually pretty steep all the way.
The left is the trail entrance for the local highest peak, Mt. Hohuen (3409m).
With a few more strokes we arrive at the finish point, Wuling.