Friday, 18 May 2018

LTF Spring Ride (14-26 April 2018), Day 5 : Puli to Cingjing

At the Old English Manor
Breakfast at Xiang Ting Hotel, Puli
Sue is always last to arrive as her makeup always take precedent over food. Yes, she carried the full range up the mountain!!!
At the beef noodle shop

Can't resist a photo shot
Charlie's Angels???
Enjoying the view from the hotel
Spectacular view
Dinner at Inako
Views on the road
Views on the road
Views on the road
Views on the road

Sleeping in a hotel by the foothills of a mountain range, coupled with picturesque views of gushing river, suspension bridge and farms does has its downside. The air is cold and damp! Our laundry could not dry on time!!!

Tip : Tie a cable to the switch for a hands free experience. Further improve by attaching a hard paper to prevent sliding; not shown here.
Tip : Check voltage before hauling a hairdryer up a mountain!!!

Trying to reduce the weight of wet clothes, we were all blasting away the hairdryer in our rooms this morning. Claudine though, had an extra weapon, having brought her blower all the way from home! A slight miscalculation on her side, it was only operating on half capacity due to the low voltage in Taiwan!

Traffic is heavy for the first 10 km

After breakfast, we started our first installment ride to Wuling. At half past eight, the sun has risen past the mountains, raining full force, its UV rays on us. We were in a dilemma whether to dress up or dress down!

The initial 9 km stretch starting from Guanyin Falls was one of gradual climbing slope. Along the way, we made a few short stops in search of a foot pump for George as his tyres were sporting a paunch. While the police station had misplaced theirs, the 7 Eleven had one ready for distressed cyclists.

After 7 Eleven, we were rewarded with a nice descend all the way to the tunnel. While the road was hugging the edge of the hill, all the way to our left were rolling farmyards. A river, parallel to the road was running its course through the valley.

Entering the pitch dark tunnel, a sudden familiar voice startled Claudine. It was KC! Like a school boy, he had whizzed past her at the descend, raising his posterior and lowering his chin to reduce drag. Stopping in the middle of the tunnel, he had patiently waited to take everyone’s photo!

Once out of the tunnel, the gradient began to pick up. A short struggle ensued before we made a stop at a historical monument by a river. Built to commemorate the hill tribe’s sacrifice and contribution during WWII, it was sadly run down with tiles falling apart!

At this point, Claudine was getting rather worried. Down to her second last gear, she wondered how she will cope for the rest of the journey and the following day as well! On MTB, Sue still has a few more cogs to play with and had not even dropped to her smallest chainring!

Landslides are aplenty

Moving out after the stop, the nasties began to pick up. Initially gradual, we soon “hit a wall” as fondly described by YC.

As evidenced by the soap, this bike cafe has not been in business for some time
The gradual hairpin bends we had to overcome to arrive at "Disappointment"
Beautiful farm view, topped with the sound of "waterfall", courtesy of KC

Besides KC, the rest of us made a pitstop after the first switchback. As for him, he glided past the vegetable stalls without heeding our calls. Disappearing at the hairpin bend, we could hear him call out, “Woo Hoo!” as he tackled another incline!

 2 mountain cats are confined in the cage behind VT
The road we took

After a much needed break, we left the husband and wife team at their vegetable stall, together with their pet mountain felines in pursuit of KC. Making the 180 degrees turn, we were immediately assaulted with a 15 percent grade hill!

Smiling in the face of adversity, we all took the challenge and succeeded! Of course....with KC’s camera aiming at us from the other side of the road, everybody wanted to look good and nobody wanted to be caught pushing!!!

Such is the sweetness of KC. After the ascend, he had walked down the slope to wait patiently for us. Throwing in a cheerleader role as well as official photographer, he was packing loud, “Jiayou” to egg us on!

After a series of switchbacks, we reached the 7 Eleven at Renai Township. It was queer to see KC and Sue downing full meals just past 11 am while some others like Claudine was only sipping red bean soup. Perhaps, everyone’s fuel consumption is different!

Right after the town, we were arrested by a breathtaking view of the valley below. A wide river, laid bare by the dry season exposed a river bed of grey rocks and pebbles.

Taking the left fork, we joined Route 14a for Cingjing. This time, another set of switchbacks awaited us.

Like mountain goats, KC and Christoph were always leading. Meanwhile George was at his best elements, caught overtaking Sue a few times. Whatever the speed, we were not far apart and every regrouping point brought us back together!

Today’s finish line is the 7 Eleven at Cingjing. Located right after the Old English Manor, this convenience store is a favourite haunt amongst cyclists as it also marks the end point of a popular KOM segment on Strava.

Close to 4.4 km to the checkered flag, we made a stop at a beef noodle shop. Serving delicious looking beef noodle and dumplings, Claudine was feeling anything but hungry. Not realizing, the red bean soup she had consumed earlier, coupled with the high altitude was keeping her bloated....and nauseated. She could only manage a few sips of Coca-cola which was then passed on to VT.

As none of us were hungry, we only took cold drinks from the fridge. The proprietor welcomed us, was apologetic on his stocks and even suggested a Family Mart not far away! Not troubled by their lack of choice, we were just too happy to be sitting on the verandah which comes with a postcard perfect backdrop!

Moving out after our short consultation with Taurus, food outlets began to sprout more frequently. There was Family Mart, the “fish” shop and Inako Valley View restaurant. Hotels and resorts were scattered along the road too.

Note the faraway castle!

Then, came a curious sight! An Old English Manor, set in Tudor architecture loomed from the edge of the cliff. Tiny from far, we watched it grow larger and larger as we inched our way slowly but surely towards it.

Finally, we arrived at the finish line! Not wanting to fight for English scones and tea with the long line of tourists at the Manor, we had cheap microwaved lunch from 7 Eleven instead.

When lunch was safely packed into our bellies, we backtracked 1 km downhill before resuming our climb on a side road. More steep than Route 14a, we were all ready to unfriend YC on Facebook for his choice of hotel. The terrain was as complicating and difficult as the name, Cingjing Brilliant Stars of Seattle, our stay for the night!

However, all was forgiven when we stepped into the resort. A charming and beautiful place, 2 queen sized beds were thrown into each room. Set before a large garden overlooking the valley below, we were all ready to unwind until dinner time!

That evening, we went to Inako Valley View Restaurant for their famous roast chicken cooked in urn ovens. In fact, this aboriginal method of cooking has been following us since Sun Moon Lake!

The restaurant offers pick up and drop off service

Hoping to get a sunset view from the restaurant, we went early but the mist beat us to it. Close to 6 pm, the open verandah which comes with a sweeping view of the mountains was too chilly for our skimpy dressing. Instead, we chose to dine indoors which was thoughtfully built with wide windows. Finally settling down, nightfall beat us to the views as well, hence we had no choice but to transfer our full attention to the food laid out before us!!!

Photo Credit :


Cingjing Brilliant Stars of Seattle


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