July 14, 2016: Chungju to Yangpyeong
We said farewell to the mini Eiffel Tower and headed to our last town before heading back home.
The entire week was forecasted with rain and scattered thunderstorms but somehow, we remained unscathed by the weather gods. Aside from like 10 drizzle drops and our own salty sweat, the weather really cooperated.
I felt strong riding today even with a few more challenging climbs, I felt a confidence on my bike that I hadn’t experienced before. The relationship with one’s bike is much more than woman and machine. There is a cooperation, an understanding, a sense of teamwork, connection and reliance…much like any human relationship. I totally get now why cyclists name their bikes and take care of them like pets or children!
The road to Yangpyeong which boasts art museums and beautiful resorts nestled in the mountains required
us (ok, well not
“required”) crossing some big ass bridges that we weren’t supposed to be on. LOL. My guy is a bit of calculated risk taker, adventurous, and likes pushing the envelope at times. I suppose we could’ve taken the safer river trail but we took a “shortcut”.
We approach a big looking bridge. I see a clear “no bikes allowed” sign. He checks his navigation and we go for it. No, I’m not advising you to do the same. In his defense, it didn’t look so bad from where we were, but once we got on, I was like “WTF, these trucks and cars are driving like 60mph!” There was a generous shoulder at least but lots of random rocks and typical “side of the road of a big bridge” debris.
I then decided I was in a video game kinda like Asteroids (yep, I just completely aged myself) and had to maneuver quickly around them as I’m riding over 20mph. Too bad I didn’t have shooters. Hahaha. As we were crossing the bridge, I saw another bridge somewhat perpendicular to ours and thought, “Well at least we’re not on THAT bridge which was even higher and longer!” Little did I know that we would also be crossing that as well!
I guess I’m an adrenaline junkie and I’m blessed with a calm demeanor when I’m faced with real precarious situations that require careful and quick reactions. I wish that translated better to more mundane everyday life situations which I can be kinda spazzy about. I freak out more about checking my bank account than the prospect of getting hit by a tractor trailer crossing a bridge over a large body of water. #SMH 😆
This ride which was about 60 miles or so went quickly. We didn’t stop until at least mile 30. When we randomly found a tiny convenience store, it was the most fortuitous timing because all of a sudden the winds kicked up and the clouds unleashed a monsoon like downpour! The store owner fed us ramen, beer, refrigerated peanuts, and also offered us two random pieces of challah-like bread. My guy was like, “I feel like a stray dog being fed scraps.” Hahaha.
Once the rain cleared up, we rode on to what was probably the most fun riding portion of the trip up until that point. Of course, it included a bit of fun “racing” with a fellow cyclist. I really do think I have some secret racing gene somewhere in my DNA because that shit excites me, especially in a car or on a bike.
We’re riding pretty casually but at a decent clip (16-17mph) when a Korean dude on a mountain bike passes us. That was all it took because without warning, my also competitive man just cranks it out and starts chasing him. Hahaha. It took all I had to stay on his wheel, but I did. I knew if I didn’t stay in my “suck zone”, which I learned pretty early on is pretty much right up on his rear wheel, I’d lose them both and eventually he’d have to slow down and wait for my sorry slow ass. I couldn’t shame us like that. 😆
Of course we passed the dude and we figured it was fair. Sure the dude was on a MTB but we were also lugging at least 40 extra pounds of gear on our road bikes and we’d ridden for 4 days straight prior AND I’m a chick!
But gotta say, the male Korean ego is not one to take lightly. This friendly “battle” went on for 3 more surges when the trail split and we had to check navigation. So it seemed as if MTB dude had the last laugh.
I was happy nonetheless because I’d never put in that much sustained effort riding that fast and keeping up with boys! And I was thrilled when my guy told me he really didn’t expect me to keep up and that he thought he’d have to eventually wait for me!!! Yay me! #thelittlethings
We find our way which turned out to be the direction the dude took and passed us. So much time had passed we settled back to our regular pace and enjoyed the ride not worried about catching up to him. But shortly thereafter, we do pass him one final time! He had stopped to rest at a little gazebo thingy on the side of the trail before we made our last turnoff from that portion before heading to our resort. My guy has raced a lot and is a damn strong cyclist so yeah, not a huge deal for him but for me, for a moment, I felt like all professional, riding all close and fast and somewhat peloton-like! I’m still smiling so big as I write this!!! I know, I’m a dork.
The landscape heading into Yangpyeong is absolutely gorgeous. The mountain peaks there have an almost Sci-Fi Close Encounters feel. We talked about Richard Dreyfuss’ mashed potatoes at that point. LOL
We make it to the resort quite quickly and pleased to find it nestled amongst some beautiful scenery. Sneaking our bikes up to the Korean style room was a bit of a challenge but at this point we are pretty expert at that…what with getting by KTX train conductors and horrified hotel personnel, we’ve got several strategies down pat. I mean our bikes are fairly expensive and our “luggage” was zip tied to our racks! And it’s not like we are mindless rock stars trashing hotel rooms so we never feel too guilty.
You get a feel for which strategy to take, just sneak it in, or stand and argue for it. If you are thinking of riding through and stopping at legit hotels along the way, be prepared to leave your bike in a storage area unless you’re like us! Most smaller town hotels don’t put up much of a fight but the 4 star ones definitely do.
We decide on eating Western food, which pretty much means Italian in Korea. Dinner was ok at best. We’ve had much better Italian in Korea. Like this:
It being our last night on the road, we stay up way too late drinking and karaoke-ing! So much fun again until we had a jealous lover’s spat…oh the drama.
All’s well that ends well though. We’re off on the road again for our last leg back home. I can’t believe it’s almost over!