Day 3 was the best and worst day. Pieter decided to call time on the trip due to fatigue and strain. It’s a tough ride if you don’t have TITS (time in the saddle). Last year Jake pulled out early on day 4 because he didn’t prep. I’m always amazed how many miles people manage to churn out with no prep but their bodies always pay the price.
Part of the Saejae Bicycle Path is Ihwaryeong, which is 548m high. Nothing like a never ending hill to start your day (p.34-35). It’s made tolerable by the thousands of butterflies that sit on the road and fly around you. After the Ihwaryeong Rest Area CC you will have a fabulous downhill. I clocked 54km/hr (with brakes on) while Andrew got 70km/hr (no brakes). You will be sharing the road with vehicles and motorbikes so brakes are boring but advisable.
After the hill flattens out you’ll get to Mungyeong Buljeong Station CC. WARNING: after you get your stamp you will cross over a highway with a blind spot. Andrew almost got hit by a car as they couldn’t see each other. Luckily no one was going fast and Andrew was quick to unclip and stop. They need to put a traffic mirror there for sure. We later met a Texan who actually came off his bike on the downhill and broke his toe. More on him later.
After we said goodbye to Pieter we carried on towards Sangpunggyo CC. We had to go up and down a bad ass hill first though (p.14/15 in Nakdonggang Vol. 2) but not before we scored some free cucumbers to snack on. Thanks Korea! After the nasty hill you get into Sangju where you have 2 choices. You can avoid the Bicycle Museum, or go up another hill to see some great bikes. Guess what WE chose… I highly recommend taking time to visit the museum. Last year we skipped the museum and took the road leading through the village instead. Both ways lead you back onto the river path. Last year, on day 3, my tyre burst and the rest of the day was shot to hell. This year was perfect. It felt so good to ride past all the spots where I had to change my inner tubes last year – I kept on getting punctures every hour after trying to patch up my tyre. It sucked my spirit big time and we limped into Gumi very late at night as a result.
This year we stopped for lunch at a cool place run by two artistic hippies next to Donamseowon Confucian Academy (p.16). They offer accommodation and food and it must have been good because we ended up staying for about 2- 3 hours. We met the broken toe guy, and it turns out that he graduated from the same university as Andrew, in the same year, on the same day! What are the odds??! We enjoyed makgeoli, pajeon and incredible hospitality here- highly recommended for a rest stop. The owners used to live on Jeju island and gave us each a handful of Jeju chocolates as a goodbye present.
We left, high on makgeoli and good company, and put our heads down to get to Gumi, which would bring us back in line with my original plan. We got to Gumi at 19:30 still feeling strong and decided to make a final push for Chilgok since the trail was so flat. Andrew and I took turns leading and drafting and we were cycling at a constant 25-28km/hr pace. We smashed it and pulled into Chilgokbo CC at 9PM. We had a bit of trouble finding accom so we put that on ice to re-fuel since we were approaching another 170km day. The naver map for Waegwan is a bit out of date, but we ate here (diagonally across from 마고촌) and it was packed with Koreans enjoying the same top quality barbeque as we were. GO AND STUFF YOUR FACE! DO IT!
We eventually found 왜관온천웰스파 (Waegwan Oncheon Well Spa) jimjjilbang past the railway station (and some great wall graffiti) and settled in just before midnight. There are wall sockets in the main area so you can charge your phone while you sleep.
Day 3 summary: 170km door to door (162 before entering Waegwan) 13 hours total time.
Fact of the day: The world is a very small place sometimes.