Song Là! This apparently translates to “very happy, a little relaxed and a little comfortable” in Taiwanese and became our mantra for the ride, in a slightly ironic way.
We do a lot of cycling straight from our apartment in Taichung, but this particular weekend we drove south an hour to Douliu for a ride to Meishan (Mei = Plum
Shan = Mountain) in Chiaya County, which took us around 36 hairpin turns and gifted us with a 1,200 m (3,900 f) view.
We drove down Friday with two friends, Allison and Jenny, and stayed the night in Douliu at Sun Hao hotel so we could get an early start on Saturday, not because it’s a long ride, but to beat the heat. We now wear arm sleeves and legs, not for warmth, but to block the UVA/B because sunscreen melts right off. No shortage of Vitamin D here.
At 5:30 am on Saturday we met up with some of Scott’s colleagues and they guided us south towards the climb. The first 20 k (12 m) are pretty flat which offered a welcome warm up for the legs. It was a clear day and we could see our destination from the flats and it looked divine. It also looked steep.
The views on the way up weren’t too shabby. Almost every turn offered a look-out due west and in between we rode past lush forests, coffee and bamboo plants, tea fields, and orchid farms.
After 35 K (22 miles) we reached the summit! The views were heavenly and all due east, towards Alishan and Yushan. We soaked it up, rested our legs and then bombed down the 36 brake squeezing, hand numbing, hairpin turns. Incredible decent. Definitely a challenging ride and worth every drop of sweat.
Thanks to Jimmy and friends in Douliu for leading us on this epic ride.