Ride: Gumi, South Korea to Hyeonpung, South Korea
Terrain: Once you get past the busy streets of Gumi, you’re able to finally settle in for a lovely ride in the countryside. Getting closer to Daegu means that facilities along the bike path start to pop up again, so you have plenty of mini marts, bathrooms, and bike workshops to choose from. It’s flat until the very end, as you’re hugging the river the entire time.
As we mentioned before, the ride into Gumi was annoying as hell. The ride out wasn’t any better. The city just kept dragging on, the industrial traffic was heavy, and it really wasn’t a pleasant start to the morning. In hindsight, it would have been best if we had ridden just a bit further and stayed at Chilgok, as it’s a bit more established and less grimy. If you’ve got the legs for it, by all means do so.
After far too many close calls with trucks and buses intruding into the too-narrow urban bike lanes, we found our way onto the cycle path proper. We were glad to see the back of Gumi and get back into our element.
We were surprised at the sudden huge increase in cyclists we saw on the trail today, until it dawned on us that it was Saturday. When you’re on the road, the days tend to blend into one, and you stop caring what day it is because it doesn’t really matter. But this famously workaholic country likes to make the most of its free time, and they were out in force today. Combined with the increasing density of facilities as we got closer to Daegu, Korea’s fourth-largest city, we really started to get the feeling that we were inching back into civilisation.
With the exception of the short slopes connecting the trail together, today’s ride was entirely flat, which was a godsend in the sweltering heat. By the time 1 PM came around, we were ready for lunch and conveniently came across a stamp point/convenience store next to a huge K-Water building where many fellow cyclists and their families were eating. It was as good a spot as any, and we followed suit by purchasing some cup noodles ourselves.
Most people had spread out in the pavilions next to the river, which would have provided a lovely view as we ate. However, the convenience store had something that the outdoors didn’t - air conditioning. We happily stayed inside and ate at the mini counter, enjoying a respite from the heat as we watched a fellow cyclist who couldn’t stop staring at our parked tandem.
It was so hot today that it made us glad we didn’t come any later in the year, and had us wondering how hellishly sweaty it must be in July and August.
With less than 40 kilometres left, we trundled on along the river until we reached Hyeonpung, where we decided we would stop for the night. We could have stopped earlier at Daegu and explored the city properly, but it would have meant cycling 20km inland and then doubling back on ourselves the next day.
Even though this trip is a month long, we’re finding that corners need to be cut here and there to fit in all the things we want to do. It’s at times like these we wish we had the means to do an around-the-world years-long bike tour like so many that we meet on the road. What a treat it would be to rise with the sun, ride until you feel like stopping, and figure it all out on the fly.
But for now, this is how it is, and we couldn’t afford a 40+ kilometre detour. So as Ariana Grande would say, thank you next.
By all accounts, Daegu’s not especially interesting anyway.