My first ride up to Wuling on Hehuan Mountain today went rather well. Went with the Bigfoot boys. After driving in the support van from Taichung to Puli, we unloaded, made sure our bikes were prepared and we had enough water and fuel to make it up. It was a beautiful morning and I was ready to get going. We set off at about 6:40.
To be honest, I was expecting the first 40 kilometers of the ride to be more difficult than it was. To be sure, it was a climb and there were some moderately steep areas of it, but it was a lot like the ride from Dongshi to Guguan - though a bit longer. With endurance, it was actually not all that difficult.
I took up the rear from the beginning, but by the half-way point, I passed a couple of the guys who started up pretty early on. I was feeling pretty good and really was not feeling fatigued.
It started getting more difficult about 40 kilometers into the ride. I am not sure if it was that it was getting steeper or that fatigue was starting to set in (probably a little bit of both), but the work was getting harder. I was still going pretty well. I was passing a lot of riders from other groups (there were a lot of riders out today), including two more of our guys. Still, the quads were starting to feel a little strained, but as I saw my cycle computer clicking off the kilometers, I knew I was getting closer to the destination.
At about 50 kilometers, it really got hard. I saw some switchbacks that led to the entrance to the Taroko Gorge National Park (which I thought was the end point). I pushed up, along with a guy from Taipei I met along the later part of the ride. However, once I got there, though there were lots of people hanging out, taking pictures, and otherwise enjoying the beautiful day, I found out that there were still two kilometers of tough climbing to do.
After a quick refuel and conversation with Andrew (the guy from Taipei), we set back off. Just took it one pedal stroke at a time as the top of the ridge grew ever nearer.
Got to the top and was surprised to break four hours (if just barely) on my first attempt to make the ascent up Wuling.