Page Contributor(s): Mark Blackburn, Taipei, Taiwan; Jan-Hendrik Meidinger, Manager, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Taipei City, Taiwan
Steepest Gradient (%)
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Wuling North is the second hardest bike climb in the world behind only the incomparable Mauna Kea Volcano, Island of Hawaii, USA. At 14 miles cycling to an altitude over 10,000’ (3,275m), with grades exceeding 30%, this climb is nearly unparalleled in the world. Wuling North places #5 for the world’s steepest 5 kilometer (16.5%) and #2 for the world’s steepest 10 kilometer at 13.4% (behind only World #6 road bike climb Alpe Fuori).
That is a BRUTAL elevation profile.
Ride it and weep! Some of the steepest stuff in the world.
This climb dwarfs the other approaches to Wuling in average gradient: 9.9% North, 6.4% West, 3.5% East, and is logically much shorter: 25 km North, 40 km West, 87.5 km East.
THE STEEEEEP SECTION
The first 9.5 kilometers (before merging onto Highway 14B (and sharing the final 13 kilometers/8 miles with the Wuling Pass West climb) average 13.4%.
Road is not for normal vehicles.
These narrow low geared mini-vehicles and scooters are all that travel the first segment of Wuling North.
Just about ready to descend the final seven kilometers..
Only made it down two . . .
THE OVERLAP WITH WULING WEST
The final 13 kilometers (eight miles) overlap with Wuling Pass West and are a manageable 7.4% up to the summit at 3,275 meters (10,750’).
As explained below, PJAMM has personally ridden only the final 17.6 kilometers/10.6 miles. Thus, we would appreciate anyone with knowledge or experience with the first four miles of this route to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Problem: We got a late start on Wuling Pass North, having ridden Wuling Pass West first on our May 2019 Sunday on the west side of the mountain.
Second Problem: Our support van simply could not make it down the treacherously steep sections between kilometers 1 to 8 of the climb. This resulted in no support and only 2 ½ hours of light to try and get down and back up 10 kilometers of narrow and very rough road averaging 13.4% -- wishful (stupid?) thinking. Well, I did have the foresight to stuff a headlight in my jersey pocket.
Third Problem: Took a wrong turn and went downhill (very steep downhill) about a kilometer to a dead end.
Fourth Problem: Had to ride up 1 kilometer of very steep ascent to get back to the correct route. 👎
Fifth (and final) Problem: A road bike cannot maintain its traction on a 20% wet and mossy grade (at least I can’t keep it up) -- BOOM! End of story. No going down to the bottom to document the full climb.
“Good” fortune of Problem Five: I would never have made it back to Highway 14 where the support vehicle was waiting if I had gone another four miles to the bottom and start of Wuling North.
No sterile pads at the market so we had to improvise . . .
Yes -- that is a feminine napkin protecting my wound . . .
SOME BACKGROUND ON TAIWAN
Taiwan in relation to China.
The cultures of Taiwan tend to be a hybrid, incorporating traditional elements of Chinese culture, as well as Japanese culture, traditional Confucianist beliefs, and Western values (Taiwan's Culture). Though a small country in size, Taiwan nonethless has so much rich culture within itself. Examples of Taiwan’s rich culture include. Visitors to this country will find no shortage of sites to see and activities to experience. The National Palace Museum is home to over 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting, and porcelain. Taiwan also is home to nine national parks, each full of unique and wonderful beauty of it’s own. Taipei’s 30+ famous night markets are one of Taiwan’s most popular attractions -- here you can find local favorites like bubble tea and Taiwanese fried chicken, in stalls alongside gourmet cuisine. No matter what your travel agenda includes, you are bound to enjoy your time in this wonderful country. There is so much to do and see in Taiwan -- these lists may help you narrow it down, here and here.
A big thank you to our cycling friend living in Taiwan, Mark Blackburn, who invited us to join his cycling club for this climb. Without that invitation, we may never have experienced one of the greatest cycling climbs in the world.
And a huge portion of gratitude to Jan-Hendrik Meidinge, a Sapien Cycling Club member and manager of the Grand Hyatt Taipei. JH arranged for our lodging (the best we have ever had -- and we don’t get paid to say that, by the way), our driver (Simon), access to the Hyatt’s Grand Club Lounge (WOW!) and the exceptional buffet breakfast available each morning. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Taipei upon arrival to Taiwan and the evening before leaving -- a perfect start and finish to our Asian Cycling Trip (Mt. Fuji, Japan; Doi Inthanon, Thailand; Wuling Pass, Taiwan).
Grand Hyatt Taipei -- middle of photo.
Left to right: John, Mitch, Simon, Javier.
Simon drove us to and from the airport as well as three days on Wuling Pass -- he was AWESOME. Simon can be reached through the Grand Hyatt Taipei at 886-2-2720-1234.