We bussed up the night before and stayed at a jimjjilbang in Incheon. If you’re a light sleeper take ear plugs because there is usually a snorer/ a loud TV. You can leave your phone with the sauna/ changing room attendant- the sleeping area itself had no plugs to use (this is not always the case). Waterpia has a gym as well but don’t worry about using it- you’re about to cycle just under 700km. We locked our bikes together outside (there is CCTV and it’s a lit area). The 2 nearest subway stations are 도와악 or 제물포역(line 1). Seoul subway stays open til around 00:30 on weekdays but it’s worth downloading the Seoul subway app to help you plan your journey if you arrive late at night. The next morning we cycled about 12km to our starting point, Ara West Sea Lock. DO NOT cross over the Han at any time, just stay on the south side. There are a few confusing signs that might tempt you to cycle on the northern side but it’s a trap. If you don’t care about the Ara sticker you can start at Yeoido CC, which marks the start of the Hangang route. If you don’t give a toss about stickers, stamps and medals just start at Banpo Bridge (you can stay at Jin’s Paradise).
Page 13 in KTO’s Hangang Vol. 1 can be confusing. The Gwangnaru Certification Center (CC) is ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE to Ttukseom Observation Complex CC. The way it’s written might suggest that it’s on the same side. Also, read the map from page 13 up to page 12, not the other way around: Gwangnaru CC comes before Gangdongdaegyo (bridge). We kept the river on our left until we crossed over at Paldangdaegyo (bridge).
Point of interest: As Seoul falls away and gives way to trees it all becomes very scenic. There are lots of bike stalls and CU convenience stores between Ara and Paldangdaegyo (bridge) to sort out food, drink and bike issues. Paldang marks the start of the Namhangang route(North Han River) which runs for about 121km to Chungju Tangeumdae CC. The old railway tunnels that you’ll ride through are amazing, especially the ones with disco lights and classical music.
My original Day 1 plan was to go from Ara to Gangcheon CC. We made a navigation error after Neungnae Station CC (p.17). After Neungnae we should have gone to Yangsu Station but we ended up turning onto the Bukhangang (South Han River) route(p.50) by accident (starting with Balgeungwangjang CC). The Bukhangang is beautiful and we rode past stunning modern architecture, watersport centres and funky cafes for about 15km until we realised our mistake. I can’t wait to do this route properly but our detour cost us 30km and over an hour lost.
We stayed at a motel on Yangsu-ri (island), just past the e-motel. The motel has space upstairs to lock up bikes securely, we paid 17,000 won each (3 people) to share a room and they did our laundry for us. We had issues at the e-motel, which is the 1st motel you’ll come across, since they refused to let guys and girls share a room. Yangu-ri has lots of Korean restaurants and a pizza place to choose from. Our Korean barbeque cost 14,000 each including beer and soju- perfect recovery food, minus the soju 😉
Day 1 summary: 141km total (starting at Waterpia, including nav. error) 12 hours total time.
Fact of the day: Andrew points out the smell of chestnut trees in bloom, aka “semen trees”. I thought I’d have been the first to sniff out such a thing but it doesn’t smell like anything I’ve ever come across. Maybe I should stop dating smokers, pot heads and alkies, hehehe.