It had been a full 12 months since first visiting the lush surrounding of Qingliangfeng

That coupled with the risk of being roped into a ‘Moganshan and back’ one dayer, were enough incentive to make a return trip to Anhui.

Although there was some relief in avoiding a 450km ride, a leisurely weekend was unlikely to ensue, with several regular Elite Cat podiumers from both sides of the Huangpu, also opting to make good use of Wild Homestay.

On arrival, it was clear that many things have changed at Wild Homestay in the last year. More tastefully and thoughtfully renovated village houses, bike maintenance workshop and a Sat evening BBQ option.

Fortunately many charming aspects of the village remain, including the well maintained road up to Qingliangfeng itself. In terms of riding itself, whilst it’s no doubt still possible to get lost with the master navigator himself and also indulge in a spot of bike and hike, a lot more routes have been well mapped out.

Fielding a bike and hike enquiry

 

Day 1 Qiānniúgǎng Radar Station

With that in mind, there was a plethora of options for Sat. A consensus was gained on heading up to Qiānniúgǎng (牵牛岗) Radar Station, the ride often and mistakenly referred to as Da Ming Shan (大明山), with an option of something else thereafter, if the legs were willing.

Relaxed start to the day

The steady procession to the climb, invariably turned into a the expected smashfest, once the unpaved section was completed before km zero. The Columbian climber Juan Pablo was in imperious form, even foregoing great photo opportunities on the descent.

Views from Qianniugang

With this all knocked out before lunch, thoughts turned to a suitable extension. With no canals on offer, a trip up to the Botanical Gardens, seemed appropriate. Another stunning climb, punctuated by a few flats, a strategically placed RMB100 note and motion sensored, automated policemen.  A new stretch of tarmac at the top of the climb, may not bode well for the endangered Sika Deer of the National Park, but if it is extended it could save bone jarring for many a cyclist.

Better than an ice bath

Everyone rendevouzed back at Wild Homestay, where the fish ponds, aka ‘the swimming pool’ proved popular, prior to the BBQ firing up.

Fine BBQ

Although many cycling feats were being toasted, the day’s achievement belonged to Justin’s brother Cosmo,  who managed to upstage his sibling by running up Qiānniúgǎng, and back down a fair bit of of it too.

Cosmo, the more aero of the Jencks brothers

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Day 2 Qiānniúgǎng via Tuankou

After much BBQ discussion, the back road up to Qianniugang got the vote for Sunday. It’s a similar start to the regular ascent, but with a detour taken at the 3km mark, that follows the river gently down to Shirui and the hot springs town of Tuankou.

The real climbing starts just after 80km. The scenery is perhaps more spectacular than the more direct route, however the road surface is currently quite poor. That does look set to change though with a lot of road widening and hopefully resurfacing underway.

The final concrete wall section of the back route

Although the climb is longer than the more popular climb at 31km, it’s only really in the last couple of km’s that it banks up, before joining the final stretch up to the radar station. The concrete surface is in great condition in comparison to the broken sections proceeding it, but it does form a wall with several sections above 15%.

Noodle stop

With timings quite tight, only Juan and Michael made it all the way up to the radar station, with their climbing cohorts opting for the right turn to head straight down Qianniugang for a well deserved noodle stop.

Endless hiking options. Bike optional

Many others had skipped the silliness of more hills on the second day and instead enjoyed some of the great hiking in and around Qingliangfeng.

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Two days only really offered a chance to explore the southern routes around Qingliangfeng. Another two days would be needed to do the northern routes justice. With a lot more cycling now mapped out, there is definitely a great choice of rides available, whether for a weekend or longer.

With rumours of a 24 hr ride, overnighters and a 5000m climbing day, there are sure to be a few more trips to the countryside.

About Liam Winston

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