I’ve got a super stressful work week coming up. Really, it’s going to be a killer. Our school is getting evaluated by headquarters. My supervisors are vibrating with negative energy. I stayed late on Friday and the tension was toxic.
How else to deal but a quick weekend bike tour?
I left Saturday morning. Getting out to the bike trail requires some slight rule breaking. I won’t go into details. It’s worth it and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t see other cyclists doing it.
Last weekend I rode south on the bike trail – this time I headed north. The trail follows the Nakdongang River. Busan is on the opposite bank, and it looks like there might be a bike trail on that side, too. Future ride! The massive apartment buildings and huge bridges eventually peter out. The bike trail isn’t just one trail. There are boardwalks over the wetlands, sports fields, great grassy areas, picnic spots and the ever-ubiquitous exercise equipment. There are still more trees and landscaping projects being planted. Apparently this Korean system of people living in huge apartment complexes leaves lots open area for these magnificent trails and green spaces.
Since I hadn’t bothered to fully research my ride, the hills came as a surprise.
I don’t mind hills, I’m good on the climb and it’s fun to get to the top. Some fellow cyclists gave me good cheer at the top and that was nice. On the other side of the hill I dropped into a small town that was half huge industrial and half farming village. There was a 7-11, always a welcome sight. I sat at a picnic table with some Ducati riders and gobbled down a really fantastic ice cream. The bike path out of town went out on the road but was well-marked and easy enough to follow. I climbed over another little killer hill and dropped into a farming village that seemed like a throwback to some earlier time. There were houses with tiled, Japanese-y roofs, and lots of family farms. I stopped at one farm when my tire went flat. (In my hurry to get out the door, it appears I forgot to pack a bike pump.) I motioned down to an old woman with the international sign for bicycle pump. She yelled for her bent-backed, deaf husband to go fetch one. He insisted on pumping up my tire while the woman brought me a cup of water. I said thank you in Korean and bowed a bunch of times. That’s about the limit of my Korean so far.
I crossed over a dam and found myself in another large sprawling riverfront open area. The trails split and split again and since it was getting late I set about finding a far off little pavilion to camp at. I set up my tent off the pavement and watched the sunset. No one came by. It was a totally peaceful night. There was some kind of loudspeaker in the distance but I haven’t the faintest about the occasional messages being broadcast. I woke up to lots of twittering birds. On my way out, my tire went flat again. At the parking lot, I asked a few cyclists out for Sunday morning rides if they had a pump. The third guy had one. He insisted on doing all the work, including patching my leak. I learned a good trick. Instead of glue, he attached a patch with clear nail polish! After he pumped up my tire, he gave me his pump! I tried to give it back but he showed me that it was slightly dented. Maybe he wanted an excuse to buy a new one. It was such a nice thing to do, and helpful too, since my tire did go flat again later. (It’s my tires, they’re shot full of little bits of metal from all those stupid bridges on the East Coast. I really need to replace them.) So, thank you, guy on the flash Merida road bike! You saved me several times!
As usual, the ride back home went by too fast. Even those mountains didn’t seem nearly as big the second time over. In no time, I was riding through the farms on the outskirts of Yul-ha. I’ve figured out the most direct path through levies and farmland, under the giant bridge construction, passed the water park and outlet mall. I love that cycling has introduced me to these interesting spaces around my new home.