Tag Archives: nakdonggang

Seoul to Busan Day 4 (Waegwan to Namji)

We slept in for an extra hour and got back on the road at 9AM on Day 4. It’s usually best to start your days early so I’d been pushing for 6AM wake ups and 8AM departures, but boys are slow to get ready sometimes so we usually left between 8:15 and 8:30. I’d love to have a Seoul-Busan trip where I’m on the road by 7AM and done with my day, chilling with a beer and meat by 6PM. Next year maybe.

Before we left Waegwan we stopped to take some photos of the great mural artworks near the train station.

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We met a Scottish guy and a Canadian girl and made a new group which worked out quite well. They were on Roadmaster bikes, which look cheap but they were actually quite light and handled far better than my heavy “NEXT Dominate” Korean steel bike from last year. Turned out that the Scot, Michael, had spent many years in Andrew’s neck of the woods in Texas. Again, small world, and it seems to revolve around Texas! Cheryl had finished her teaching contract and this would be her last epic trip before leaving Korea.

Day 4 had some hills and some possibility for getting lost/ taking a detour or two.

After Gangjeonggoryeongbo CC we crossed the bridge and stayed on that side far longer than the map suggests- we should have crossed back over at Samunjingyo (page 29). The road that we were on was quite patchy at times so I’d suggest sticking to the KTO route.  We crossed over later around Seongsandaegyo which brought us to Dalseongbo CC. I am 99% sure that we did the orange “Alternate route” on page 35 – the MTB route.

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MTB trail- this is a good section of the trail- lots of up and downs.

It was gravelly in some parts with fine sand in others, not ideal but still do-able while clipped in on a road bike with thin, smooth tyres. Last year we did the on-road hill route which was challenging but rewarding on the downhill sections. The MTB trail is harder in my opinion because it requires a lot more concentration if you’re not on a suitable bike. Make sure that you keep a good distance between yourself and the riders ahead of you if you’re clipped in.

You’re still going to do a hill regardless of the path you choose, so it comes down to what’s more important to you: time or comfort. Next time I’ll probably choose the on-road uphill section because it saves loads of time. The MTB trail turned out to be one of my favourite parts but only because I like risk and adrenaline. It did waste time and energy. WARNING: there were a few cars on this off-road section so be careful when you turn corners at speed. Also, I saw a Korean lose control of his MTB and go straight into a ditch. It was pretty funny (he was OK).

Our route took us past a temple(Seongbulsa?) which you approach from the valley. The entrance to the temple is guarded by two giant statues and you’ll cycle/ push up the hill accompanied by monk chants flowing down the mountain, splling over into the valley below. Stunning. Probably off-course but stunning.

We had lunch in Hapcheon-gun (where we found this classy calendar) and decided that we’d take another detour to avoid the steep hill predicted on p.36 and followed the 1021 (the dotted line from p.38-40) that goes past Changnyeong through loads of onion farms (all being harvested at the time). So many amazing photo opportunities!

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** We took the 1008, 79 and then 1021- just use 1008 and 1021- check google maps- you can see how we wasted time around the onion farm area…it was beautiful though.

We decided to call it a day at Namji (p.40) and stayed here (naver 남지청학모텔)- I’d pay 15,000 won to share a round bed any day! Remember that the drinks in the fridge are free , “service”, unlike in the West.

Day 4 summary: 131km total distance (incl. some detours) and 10.5 hours riding time.

Fact of the day: Cheongdeokgyo bridge (청덕교)- just after Hapcheon-gun- is quite cutesy with lots of little pinwheels  dotted on top of the bridge rail.

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Seoul to Busan Day 3 (Suanbo CC to Chilgokbo CC)

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.