Adventures of the #RovingReporter – part 1

It was a chilly evening in November. My backpack contained the essentials for the weekend, including sandwiches, fruit, veggies and water. I had a bike repair kit and a sturdy lock. I slipped on my gloves and helmet and kicked the stand up. Ready to go.

Just getting started.

The week before, I had heard about a cross-country trail. It’s part of the Four Rivers Bicycle Path and follows the Nakdong River between Busan in the south and Andong in the center. Daegu is about halfway, where Nakdong-gang meets Geumho-gang. From that point, the trail stretches around 200 kms in each direction. Knowing I needed to go to Busan the following weekend anyway, and expecting a flat river trail (after all, rivers are flat), I decided to try it out.

Reflections in the Geumho River.

The first part of the trip was an easy evening ride to western Daegu. I rode along the river on a lovely, flat, well-marked and well-cared-for bicycle and walking path. It was around 35 kms to my destination and it was getting dark, so I took it fast. I arrived in about two hours, dark and cold. After dinner with a friend, I found a motel room, set the alarm for 4:30am and settled in for the night. There were stars in the sky and frost on the fallen leaves when I began day two of my adventure.

The sun not quite up yet over the Nakdong-gang.

The path was even and well-marked. There were trail maps periodically with explanations of how far to the next bike station and how long it was expected to take. The first surprise: the trail was much longer than I expected: 210 kilometers. My dreams of arriving by dinner time were dashed.

The sun is rising along Nakdong-gang.

The road goes ever, ever on.

The sun rose and I rode on until I reached Hyeonpung, a small city south of Daegu and the last stop on the bus line before you reach Biseul Mountain, well known for its Azalea Festival in the spring and Ice Festival in the winter. I rode through the city and out again along the marked trail. I was following signs to a Confucian Academy when I got my second surprise: I found myself climbing a steep hill. Tired, I got off my bike and pushed it to the top, where I had breakfast and stretched.

The view from the first hill.

Bike path below

Little did I know, that hill was just the first of many. Some of the hills were along a road, with cars driving beside me. Others were up mountains on hiking paths where cars cannot go. There were only one or two that I could ride up. Moreover, the expected times shown on the trail maps did not reflect the hills: 57kms of flat was expected to take the same amount of time as 54kms of mountains. I would love to meet the rider who can do that.

A warning I did not heed.

Shoulda listened to the scary statues below.

I made a brief stop for lunch around 1:30pm and I finally stopped for dinner at a trail station at 7pm. The station was closed and the man who ran it badgered me with questions about where I had come from and how much further I wanted to go. He brought me a cup of coffee and I inspected the trail maps, thoroughly disheartened to learn that I had only traveled 110kms so far. The station man offered to open the station for me to sleep there, but I resolved to ride another 40kms before I slept.

Darkness falls in Miryang

So after the short dinner break, I set off again in the dark. Determined. The first 18kms seemed to go through a park. It was blessedly flat. I arrived at a bridge that marked my next decision point. Crossing the bridge, I left the city of Miryang behind me. The trail continued along the river, through farmlands and parks. Then it started to rain.

Entering Busan in the dark.

The rest of the trail was completely flat. In spite of the rain and the time, I decided to go on until I couldn’t anymore. I finally arrived in Busan and found a trail exit. Following the neon lights led me to a subway line and motels. I booked a room and took out my phone to inspect the damage: It was 2am. Finally warm, dry, tired and proud I fell asleep on a round bed.

Yep. A round bed. Classy.

Stay tuned for part 2 – coming next week.

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Comments

  • itinerantteacher  On November 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Hey Anne. This recount is even more inspiring and I can’t wait for the rest. Not only invigorating but also a great way to see parts of the country, your journey surely put the “ARR” in Roving Reporter. Man, what pics as well.

  • anjilu  On November 25, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Wonderful, Anne, you rode almost 24 hours straight! Wowzers! You should be proud. So next week we will see the return trip? I think we need a picture of the bike and you together! What an adventure!

  • Rose Bard  On January 6, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I love traveling pictures. You are such a great photographer. TY 😀

  • Julie  On July 11, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I’m planning on doing this ride in my summer vacation. Was the route easy to follow or did you need a map?

    • livinglearning  On July 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks for your question. I thought the route was really easy to follow. I got the impression that it would be pretty easy even without Korean skills. There were maps and kilometer markers all along the way. The path is pretty isolated for most of the way. If I had done it in summer I would have needed a lot more water and snacks. In case of emergency, I discovered (later) that intercity buses in every city allow you to stash your bike underneath as “luggage”.
      Thanks for dropping by to read and feel free to ask further questions!

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