Today was the official first day of our cycling across Korea tour. It was a hot one, it went above 35 degrees today. I think that has become the pattern of our cycling stories.
I realized today that Seoul is a much better city for cycling than Busan. There are bike paths here, and they don’t randomly go into river or under a 2 feet tall overpass (that actually does exist near Busan). Seoul is a world class city with a lot of western influence. If I had a choice to go teach English again I would go to Seoul.
Besides pedaling, our job is to find all of the stamps in the English telephone/stamping booths. In Seoul, the bicycle path is available on both sides of the Han river and nobody informed us which side the stamping booth will be. Not surprisingly, we missed one stamp because it was across the river and there were no signs. We realized our mistake as we reached the next booth and something didn’t add up. We would have to backtrack 6km to get the stamp we were missing. That means adding 12km on the day’s total.
We never turn around on cycling trips. We take too long deciding if we want to eat at a restaurant up ahead and make the decision to eat there as we pass it, it’s already too late. We decide that maybe getting drinks at that gas station 10 meters behind us is not a bad idea, we don’t turn around. Push forward another 20km till the next gas station. We don’t backtrack, it’s always too far. But this was our first day and reluctantly, very reluctantly I agreed to go back 6km and get the damn stamp.
After this debacle the rest of the day was smooth. We got twisted a few times but soon we left Seoul in the dust. We had Korean cold noodles (Milmyeon) for lunch, it never felt so refreshing to have a cold noodle soup. At 3pm we found salvation from the heat in a nice fountain. There we met a Korean cyclist, Dr Bong, who was also heading to Busan. You can see an awesome compilation of his trip here.
The route itself was spectacular, if you decide you can’t bike across Korea at least do Seoul to Bulon. The biking infrastructure itself left me speechless. It is just…perfect. There are even little bike shops along the way. Majority of the route after Seoul follows an old train route. Some spots had esthetically pleasing train railways placed in the middle of the path. Old train route in Korea means tunnels! Which is super exciting on a day with high of 35 degrees. The tunnels were a great place to cool off, they also create a great photo opportunity.
We got to our destination, Bulon, just before dark. I trusted Jonathan’s smartphone skills as I was skeptical there would be a place to sleep in a town that had 2 roads. We got a room for 30 bucks and were promised breakfast in someone’s house in the morning! With Dark Knight on TV and a cold drink in my hand I can’t think of a better way to end a scorching day of biking.
Total Distance – 143km
Max Speed – 51.2kph
Average Speed – 24kph