On Saturday I had plans to ride along with The Nantou Power Cycling Club for a trip to Shuili [水里]. The morning started off wonderfully: I woke up at 6:10, ten minutes after the scheduled meet-up time in Nantou City. My wife encouraged me to go along anyway, after all, I would probably be able to catch up to the group. I headed out the door in a flash only to discover after riding for no more than three meters that my helmet and gloves were still in the house and I locked myself out. I called my wife’s cellphone, she had a good chuckle about my misfortune, and let me back in. I fetched my essentials and was back out the door only to face a new nightmare – rain.
As usual, the rain never amounted to anything more than a drizzle and it had stopped completely about a half hour after I already decided to not go cycling.
I made up for it on Sunday with a trip to County Road 147 and 131. These two quiet roads run parallel to HWY 21 which feeds tourists to Sun Moon Lake.
The morning started with an eastward journey on HWY 14. Riding along this road is very pleasant in the early morning. Most of the traffic that used to choke this road has migrated to the newly opened Freeway 6 which runs from Wufeng [霧峰] to Puli [埔里].
It wasn’t long after turning onto County Road 147 that I noticed the road heading to Jiufen Ershan – the site of a horrific landslide just a stone’s throw from the epicenter of the 921 Earthquake. Motorists can head to the site using this road. Cyclists will prefer the much more challenging route from Jhongliao [中寮]. You can also take the wicked loop Drew of Taiwan in Cycles, Michael of The View from Taiwan, and I rode in 2009.
The 147 takes riders past several deer farms, through nice scenery, is almost completely traffic-free, and doesn’t get very steep.
Once reaching Shuili Township the the 147 starts a fun descent to the 131. The 131 is a beautiful road: One side is forested mountainside and the other side is a couple of reservoirs [Minghu Reservoir 明湖水庫 followed by Mingtan Reservoir 明潭水庫 (if traveling from north to south)] that reveal themselves through gaps in the trees.
The Mighty Mingtan isn’t looking so mighty due to a serious lack of rainfall
Once I reached central Shuili I stopped at the first noodle-joint I could find. After lunch I found a cafe a couple doors down and enjoyed a refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee. After briefly traveling along HWY 16 I decided to take County Road 139 back home instead of the much busier HWY 3 that runs through Mingjian [名間].
I rolled through Jiji [集集] and shared the road with couples on tandem bicycles controlled by men who meandered these street demons in a very unpredictable fashion and ridden by women who had trouble keeping their skirts in place while riding. I also shared the road with youngsters on rented mopeds who contributed to the area’s noise pollution with their liberal horn honking.
Once I grabbed a picture of my bike in front of Jiji Train Station I knew it was time to get away from the tourists. After traveling two blocks away from the train station the crowds were completely gone.
While traveling on the 139 into Jhongliao I turned off on the 投17 with intention to take it to a road that would bring me right back to Jhongsing Village [中興新村]. Unfortunately, I made a wrong turn and ended up back on the 139 and headed home via Nantou City [南投市].
Total route was 87 kilometers with a total vertical climb of 1,050 meters. An interactive map of the route can be found on Bikemap.net.