Cycling in a Typhoon

I had my beloved bike (Cannondale R3000) shipped over to Seoul from the UK four weeks ago today courtesy of Derek Patten of Derek’s Cycles in Skegness (a true cycling institution). I have been doing a lot of training for B2B ever since having covered now close to 1,000 miles.

My first ride was with an American colleague, Warner Bauer who is in his mid 40s. I call him ‘Jack’ to keep it simple for him. He is American after all. For what it is worth, he bears no resemblance to Mr K Sutherland. He does not understand irony but I love his abundant enthusiasm! He whoops frequently as he ascends hills!

Our first ride together was a circuit around northern Seoul very close to the DMZ. They drive on the wrong side of the road here. It started off as a fantastic day’s cycling with fine sunshine, nutty Korean cyclists dressed like Darth Vader (apparent protection from sun and pollution) and virtually no wind. We set off at a fairly brisk pace. 

The mid point, approximately 55 miles out, was preceded by a brutal mountain, long and very steep. My bike does not have the advantage of low gears. And I am 9kg over my ideal cycling weight. It is the first time I have ever got off this bike and pushed. It was also the first time I had even been on a bike in over 18 months.  

Whilst pushing (much to my chagrin) this delightful Korean lady dashed up to us and gave us piping hot sweet potatoes which had been cooked in foil over an open fire. Koreans tend to be either ultra friendly or very standoffish. We had skipped lunch and they tasted so good. 

We stopped at the top for tea. And then the heavens opened – we were caught in the tail end of a tropical typhoon. It took almost two hours to cycle back to Yeonsinnae, a suburb where my girlfriend lives on the north western edge of Seoul. We had had to go back over said horrific mountain, although this time I was saved the ignominy of having to walk. I just wanted this thing to be over.

We arrived Yeonsinnae as drowned rats. Wet Marlboro do not light either. Warner was not working the next day so he decided to stay overnight in a Love Motel, said institutions being located conveniently as 7/11s throughout Korea to aid teenage lovers and those older gentlemen pre-disposed to extra marital affairs.

I decided to cycle home. I thought it was about 10 miles past World Cup Stadium (which I had not seen before) and therefore a maximum of 45 minutes on the bike taking into account the heavy traffic, traffic lights and a strong head wind. An hour and forty five minutes later I arrived home exhausted having covered over 110 miles. I had underestimated the distance home by some 20 miles!

The syllable ‘ge’ as in ‘large’ is pronounced ‘gee’ in Korea. Likewise, the syllable ‘ze’ is pronounced ‘zee’. I ordered a super human largey sizeey pizza and promptly ate the lot! Cycling apparently burns calories!! M

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