Sun Moon Lake Taiwan | Day 2

Road to Nowhere | 68km | 1,459m Elevation
By Alex Theime

After Saturday’s brutal climb to Wuling, everyone was looking forward to an easier day in the saddle on Sunday. At just 68km there was reason to be happy to have made it through the previous day and get ready to set off on what is known as the trip’s “Recovery Ride”. Whilst there was plenty of talk of sore legs around the breakfast table at the Tanhui [not so] Modern Hotel, the mood was upbeat at the promise of an easier, scenic ride.

Also known as the trip’s Official Unofficial Rapha Ride, the resident Rapha Ambassador Phil Morris was ready to go bright and early. Suitably happy with riders’ sleeve length, sock length and general Rapha-esque appearance, Captain Morris gave his nod of approval and the group rolled out from the usual meeting point in front of the Hotel del Lago. The ride started out at a steady pace along the shores of Sun Moon Lake, which was great fun as the group pretty much stayed and worked together for the initial km’s, and the rain showers did nothing to dampen the mood.

Once through one of the small lakeside towns, it was a left turn on to a small country road that immediately kicked up to be solid little climb. It became clear very quickly that some (2) in the group may have done some pre-ride Strava analysis (no, Macca was not on the trip), as they shot off the front and were steaming up the hill. Whilst there will be no public shaming here, you’ll be able to find these 2 are now joint Strava KOMs for the segment up Route 63…  [Erm.. Phil Morris???]

After reaching the top of the climb we re-grouped and took a series of obligatory selfies, with Andrew Purcell being dubbed the human selfie stick, before starting off on the descent to Dili township. The narrow and twisting country road plus continued rain fall, required everyone’s full attention on the technical descent. However, this is where Taiwan really started to show off the stunning scenery of this place. Small farming villages dotted the descent mixed with thick jungle and openings to take in views of the valley and surrounding mountains.

Once down in the valley and a quick re-group, we headed through the small township of Dili and on to the Road to Nowhere. The stunning scenery continued as the road snaked along a river with mountains on both sides. Given that the road is rarely traveled and in poor condition, it kept everyone very focused on staying upright. In Liam’s case, he was so focused on the road that he introduced himself to the front of a van coming in the other direction. You can hardly blame him though as it was likely the first car to travel along the road in days. After a brief stop to make everything is ok we were all relieved that he was ok and managed to continue on.

The final part of the day brought us to a 15km climb back to Sun Moon Lake. However gradual it may be, it inflicted plenty of pain on some weary legs after the huge ride the previous day. Everyone was more than happy to get through it and back to the hotel for a well deserved beer!

The culinary segment of the trip saw us go to Sun Moon Lake’s finest Italian restaurant later in the evening. With many of the team ordering 2 mains of pasta there was plenty of carb loading in preparation for day 3.

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