Riding the ridge of mountains that comprise the spine of Taiwan has long been an ambition of the myself and the riding group. After some significant effort, Mark put together some days of riding; day 1 of the plan was to attack the infamous Nenggao trail system (能高越嶺古道), which was built by the Japanese in an attempt to control the unruly locals. Comprising a day of climbing, an overnight camp, and a day of blissful high-speed descending, this was set to be an epic one. We were joined by Taiwan mountain biking alumni, flying in from Shanghai, Hong Kong and – would you believe it – Mexico. While several of us had bikes, the majority were going to be renting, or buying new rigs; luckily, we found a place north of Taipei run by Giant that was renting pretty decent machinery, and we were good to go.
Staying overnight in a hot spring hotel near Renai (仁愛) , we mentally prepared by hanging out way past curfew in the hot tub, and quaffing hand-imported Patron ‘Añejo’ Tequila. As the first results from the football World Cup beamed in Mr. Patron accompanied us, assisting in the respective celebrations and commiserations.
Perhaps as a result of said Tequila, the day got off to a somewhat more leisurely start than we initially planned, but we were climbing up to the trail-head proper within no time. The weeks of precipitation, namely the ‘Plum Rain‘, seemed to have receded in time for the ride, and we were climbing in cool, if humid, weather.
Crossing the bridge one the way to the up, while the weather was still behaving.
Negotiating one of the waterfalls – you can see how fragile the earth underneath is.
One of the landside sections – just before we opted to turn around.
Weeks of rain had clearly taken their toll, however, and large landslides blocked our path on several occasions. Our steely resolve to press on to the camp ground was tested, when finally the heavens opened, breaking promises of safe conditions, and we opted to get the hell off the hill, as soon as we saw rivulets of water dragging rocks and debris down the landslide area. It was not worth the significant risk, and we were all shivering insider our rain jackets, soaked in sweat, rain and humidity.
So, off the mountain we went, and the six of us made a rapid bee-line for the trail-head, some six kilometres in the other direction. The hours of climbing compressed into minutes of descending, naturally, but we were energised and warmed-up once more; it’s amazing what a little adrenalin can do.
Greeting each other after a slightly hairy descent!
Sweat, rain, relief. In that order.
Team photo. Thumbs-up from Carlos!
Reaching the van, and caked in landslide, Craig found a pipe gushing water, and we took it in turns to wash the bikes and ourselves. He maintains that the pipe was broken when he found it, but we feared a village was missing its evening shower as a result of our group cleansing activities. One thing is for sure; we will be back in November, when the park officials have had some time to repair the trail, and the weather will hopefully be in our favour.
Games with the water pipe …
- Forestry Department Information – Nenggao
- Nice pics of Nenggao from Neil Wade
- Hiking Taiwan – Nenggao
- Flickr Photos of Nenggao