Formosan Fat Tire Association - Mountain Biking in Taiwan  Madness in the Mountains near ChungHua, Taiwan
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Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge

Type of Trail: Downhill course
Length: 3-4 Minutes!
Terrain: Steep, Fast, Rocky, Technical
Location: ChungHua, approximately 45 minutes southeast of TaiChung

"We can't put John in the back", I noted abruptly. "He'll be fine, the CO2 will put him to sleep in no time" came the response from the FFTA driver. As promised, John quickly fell asleep in the back but it had more to do with a rather large Friday night than anything to do with automotive emissions… thankfully.

And so the long hot drive from Taipei began, as we headed toward the Asian Mountain Biking Championships, held in the mountains near ChungHua (also written ChungHwa) east of TaiChung. After consulting the race agenda we decided early in the piece to avoid the cross-country section of the weekends events and head straight for the speed and carnage the downhill race surely promised. We weren't disappointed…

Racers from Taiwan (or the politically and ridiculously correct Chinese Taipei), Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong etc all descended (sorry) on Taiwan for this race and judging by the beautiful BIG bikes loaded into the shuttle trucks we were hopeful for a fast, eventful day!

As we hiked up the mountain to secure a decent vantage point closer to the start of the race, we were surprised by the difficulty level of the course. Sharp descents, Big BIG technical drops snaking through tight twisty switchbacks, all cutting through the forest in a truly wondrous mountain bikers playground. This in Taiwan?? Hell yeah! We spoke to the organizers and apparently the course is to be kept open to the public… FFTA will be back.

First up were the junior racers, but there was nothing minor league about the skill level. These kids ripped through the course putting smiles on the faces of the growing crowds. Aside from MTB enthusiasts, a rather large contingent of local farmers were gathering to witness the madness and seemed completely perplexed why on earth these people choose to descend a mountain without rubber boots and bamboo hats. Nonetheless, by the end of the juniors they were pretty psyched for the upcoming men and women's events.

There were some lovely bikes on display throughout the day but it was difficult keeping track of each of the riders, as they pumped past, weaving through the trees with ease and finesse. It was a surprisingly high level race, putting the macho FFTA flame out pronto. At the end of that day Taiwan was triumphant in the women's race!

Post race we managed to sneak back down the course sussing it out for a future FFTA trip. As suspected the course is super gnarly and in sections is not for the faint of heart. There are plentiful and severe drops and tight turns, with very little padding around the course. FFTA advises riders to proceed with extreme caution on this course. It will be interesting to see if the organizers maintain the safety element, and here is hoping they do, as this little gem in ChungHua could provide solace to those riders in Taiwan seeking some downhill madness once in a while.

Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge
Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge
Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge
Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge
Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge
Madness in the Mountains Near ChungHua Taiwan - Click to Enlarge