Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 9-11: (31/3/10 – 2/4/10) Yeoju – Chungju – Suanbo 117km (Total 235km)

Gear test: Wet Weather

The weather has been an important determining factor in our choice of locale thus far. Having delayed our Mongolian entry for 1 month to let their dzud resolve itself, we have arrived in Korea during its capricious springtime. We had narrowly missed two days of snow and one of yellow dust. ‘Yellow Dust’ is an airborn plague initiated by the Mongolian Gobi desert which picks up the heavy metal pollution of China before dumping it into the South Korean atmosphere. Facemasks are a must and when the pollution count gets high, cyclists get indoors.

However, whether we had done enough to prepare for rain was tested over the space of 48hrs when the province of Chungcheonbuk-do decided it would embark upon a seemingly endless rain. Rain jackets with hoods, rain paints, water-resistant gloves, waterproof panniers, waterproof socks and sandals (Andrew) and waterproof overshoes (Ali) created what felt like an impenetrable shield. The combination of a deep puddle and fast-moving truck unleashed a wave of muddy water upon Ali. Yet with this exception the water didn’t bother us or our gear much at all. A successful gear test.

We passed through some lovely sections of rural Korea. Our wet days were spent riding through valleys alongside fast-moving rivers. Low lying mist hung in the mountain sides and egrets and herons leapt from their feeding grounds as we cycled past. We were much sustained by a sumptuous feast of samgyopsai (pork barbequed at the table with numerous sides).

Suanbo was where the rained ceased. This is the home to natural hot springs, allegedly at a pretty stable 53deg Celsius. We partook in a spa outing in true Korean fashion. The experience consisted of joining those with a similar X/Y chromosomal pattern in a naked environment of cool, warm and boiling hot spas; showers, saunas and massages; soaping, scrubbing and cleaning. While obviously an individual experience, there’s a definite communal atmosphere…together we can get clean.

Cycling summary
Day 9: Yeoju to Chungju 68km
Day 10: Chungju to Suanbo 23km
Day 11: Day trip to Woraksan National Park 26km


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