Mark works it.
Day two on our little adventure was supposed to have started by waking up in a tent, halfway up a mountain. Sadly, that did not quite happen as planned, and instead we found ourselves in the tourist honeypot of Sun Moon Lake (although 日月潭 is actually a reservoir) staying overnight. There were plenty of good hills in the local area to keep us entertained, so we asked around and made a bee-line for some trails near Shueli and Puli.
Our fortune during the trip regarding mechanical issues with the bicycles (or the people for that matter) was not matched by the stamina of Mark’s van. Frustratingly, we blew a tyre on the way out to the trailhead, and wasted a precious hour or two working out the best way to get it fixed. All I can say is, at least it didn’t happen on the way back the previous day – the puncture’s vicinity to a tyre repair place and helpful policeman saved the day.
Strike the standard ‘shit I have a puncture’ pose.
Finding trails in Taiwan at the best of times is hard work, but vague instructions, poor maps and increasingly scary roads as we gained altitude did not really help proceedings. No matter, we were happy to arrive at the forestry rangers station, and they pointed us up the hill, which seemed to have been marked with hiking association flags, heading off through the trees. This was going to be a hike-a-bike climb, but some awesome, technical descending. Our guess was, this was the first time that bikes had ever been on this trail.
Don’t worry Mum, we didn’t ride down this section.
Climbing up through the trees, we couldn’t resist spinning the bikes around every once in a while, and attacking the odd set of corners. The guys that used to live in Taiwan were in there element here; it was like all the best bits from our regular Graveyard and Helens runs, all wrapped up into one run. The disappointment of the morning was turning into a mild sense of amazement that we had found these trails – and when we couldn’t easily climb any more, we stuffed some food in our mouths, and started a wicked descent.
So wicked, in fact, that in a moment of super-human skill, I overcooked it through a set of steep, off-camber rooted turns. I knew several metres before the trail dropped that I needed to shed some speed, and I elegantly locked-up my wheels, sending me sliding across a field of roots and kindly leaving it to my head to do the final speed retardation. With a tree. Cracking sounds turned out to be my helmet splitting; my ego a little bruised, I packed up my Superman suit and kept riding.
The descending begins…
Thumbs-up from Carlos!
Picking lines through the trees.
Emerging at the end – mostly unscathed!
Considering this was his first time mountain biking, he looks like a natural cross-country racer, don’t you think?!
Team Giant (and one Specialized) give their approval!
So, day 2 dished up some surprises, but in some ways was the most memorable day (despite the bashed noggin!). A 30 minute high-speed on-road descent to the bottom certainly did not hurt our moods one little bit, though our disk brakes were certainly screaming in pain.
It’s a bit difficult to give much in the way of information, as we barely knew where we were … but here is a map for your viewing pleasure!