Cycling The DMZ to Samcheok

The last weekend in May was Buddah’s birthday in Korea and it gave me a nice opportunity to take advantage of the long weekend and put in some miles on the road. Korea is littered with bicycle routes all across the country, some stretching all the way from North to South.

Our route down the east coast of Korea.
Our route down the east coast of Korea.

There were 4 of us in total, cycling over 200 kilometres down the South Korean east coast. We began in the town of Goseong, close to the border with North Korea, and finished in my Korean hometown of Samcheok. We planned to cycle over the Saturday and Sunday and finish with a well earned bbq around a campfire on the beach.

3 of the team before we are about to leave across the rice paddies
3 of the team before we are about to leave across the rice paddies

The journey got off to a rough start with Cal forgetting his phone and wallet on the bus. Such is the honesty  within Korean culture and eagerness to please all foreigners, after one phone call (ish), Cal had everything back in his possession when we arrived for lunch in the town of Sokcho, 40 km from where we started.

Sokcho..surrounded by the stunning mountains of Sereoksan.
Sokcho..surrounded by the stunning mountains of Sereoksan.

After a tasty Korean lunch, in the company of the restaurants three legged dog, we set out for the next 60 km of our journey. On route we past stunning lakes, beautiful Korean temples and rolling mountains set against the backdrop of the The Sea of Japan (The East Sea to any Korean…apologies for the offence #Dokdolove). The going was tough in places, with a few long hill stretches to get through, but in the end, all the team made it for a nights rest in Gangneung and to sample to new Mexican restaurant in town (no better way to finish a day).

Team stretching…take notes Team Sky!
Team stretching…take notes Team Sky.
Oddly enough, decided against the dry fish and opted for Mexican goodness to ring int he end of Day 1.
Oddly enough, decided against the dry fish and opted for Mexican goodness to ring in the end of Day 1.

The next day started with more bad news for Cal…a slow puncture meant pumps were in full swing Sunday morning. We eventually set off and found the going relatively easy, although we did need saving a couple of times by our resident native speaker Lirpa Cha, when the trail went a little cold. By midday the hills got steeper and more frequent, although the hard work was paid off by stunning roads set amongst mountains next to the glistening sea. A blue bird day and fantastic views to go with it. Team Korea separated on a couple of occasions, but road into Samcheok triumphantly together, into a beautiful sunset. The only slight dampener was a puncture 10 km out, which was made all the more frustrating, by and ajossi (old man) who wanted nothing more then to fix the puncture himself. A helpful gesture but, when the tyre is flat again by the time you get home, you wish he’d just left you to it.

The stunning Korean coast.
The stunning Korean coast.
The finish line.
The finish line. Blythey managed this whole journey on little more than a sweet potato! 

After a long two days, we finally settled down for a well earned camp and bbq (braii) on the beach, cooked to perfection, by the Africanne Braiing legend himself, Jaquelz ‘Sloth’ Nienaber. A good start for preparations for the long journey south.

The braai master himself, some of the team and our favourite bro, Amelz.
The braai master himself, some of the team and our favourite bro, Amelz.

A fantastic weekend was polished off with camping and a bbq on the beach, cooked to perfection, by the South African masterchef himself Jaquelz ‘sloth’ Nienebar. A good start to a long road ahead before the big journey begins in September.

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