Old Man

August 26, 2008

Usually old men on the subway in Korea are unsmiling and unpleasant. Maybe however that is simply my perception or the product of the way I behave.

I had a nice, if halting, conversation with a 71 year old tonight. That I reciprocated his warmth is maybe a little telling about my attitude and demeanour.

If I change my (frequent) surly and truculent attitude, nice things may happen more often. Nice things seemed to happen all the time when I arrived here.

Those instances have dwindled in the last six months probably as a result of my deteriorating attitude.



August 25, 2008

At the start of yesterday’s ride, I was crossing the Banpo Bridge which spans the Hangang River which bisects Seoul.

The part for cyclists is just wide enough to fit two side by side to enable them to pass. The span is maybe a kilometer long and two thirds of the way across it turns into a ‘humpback’ for some reason.

I approached a Korean man power walking backwards listening to music on his i-Pod. He was heedlessly disrupting the flow of cyclists both ways as he was power walking in the middle of the path.

It is not uncommon – indeed it is the norm – here for people to have absolutely no idea of what is going on in their immediate vicinity.

I do not know whether this is simply ignorance borne out of innate stupidity, or just not caring about people other than themselves.

I suspect with all the empirical evidence I have gathered this summer, it is a combination of the two.

Human Kindness

August 25, 2008

Yesterday, I was towards the end of another ‘century’ training ride. I stopped at the side of the dual carriageway on which I was cycling to buy some water which I duly did. I speak little Korean and the vendors who were selling various produce from the back of their truck spoke even less English.

I duly bought some water and drank it whilst sitting on the curb at the side of the road. I was, and must have looked, knackered. The vendor brought over some ‘hopbang’ (a bread roll type thing containing red beans). I could not eat all three and took just one. I find it difficult to eat when cycling long distances. He then decided to give me a can of ice coffee! I do not drink coffee any more so I put it in my jersey so as not to offend.

All this was unsolicited and unpaid for. All I had been was polite. How kind.

Korean idiot drivers

August 15, 2008

I cycled home yesterday along a mile and a half stretch of road between the Olympic Stadium and where I live. I peered into cars as I was cycling. At least half the drivers were either talking on their cell phones (not hands free) and or simultaneously watching TV on monitors in their cars.

Is it any wonder that Korea tops the pedestrian accident rate and comes in second to Hungary in motoring accidents in all OECD countries? Apparently it is illegal to drive with a cell phone here in Korea. The police do not enforce the law, an indicator of a third world country. What will it take to change this selfish people’s minds? M


August 15, 2008

What is it with society today? Is it something to do with instantaneous communication where transmitted messages can be discarded with similar ease and people move unceaselessly on?

I come from a culture in which it is considered polite to at least acknowledge receipt of correspondence, if rejecting at the same time its substance rather than simply ignoring it.

I would say that approximately 5% of my communication have been acknowledged and less in Korea. M

Training Plan

August 15, 2008

I recently engaged UK based cycling coach Ruth Eyles. As the clock ticks, it is dawning on me the enormity of the task ahead.

To cycle 100 miles in a day is easy but to do it consistently days at a time requires a certain degree of dedication, planning and training.

The miles covered in the last two weeks:-

Week 1

Sunday – Hike up Cheonggeysan (3 hours) + 20 mile recovery ride.                                                                   

Monday – 58 miles

Tuesday – 70 miles

Thursday – 101.2 miles

Total – 249.2 miles

Week 2 (so far)

Sunday – 70 miles

Tuesday – 34.2 miles (Zone 2 ride)

Wednesay – 14.4 miles (Recovery ride)

Thursday – 101 miles (Long ride)

Saturday – 20 miles (planned Zone 3 ride)

Fourth Century

August 15, 2008

I completed my fourth century ride since I had my bike shipped over from the UK at the end of May yesterday. I have upped my training miles. 70s and 80s are now mere jaunts.

I had decided to go on what I thought would be a fairly flat route. It looked flat on the map anyway. It actually involved one kilometer of verticial climbing which I suppose is not that much when it is broken down over the total distance. 

The ride was easy enough and I completed it in just under six hours. I did have a couple of breaks, the first at 47 miles and the second at 65 miles. I am only able to carry one banana, two energy gels and a total of 1.5 litres of drink stuffed variously into my cycling jersey or onto my bike.

It was not particularly pleasant either. The majority of the route was on dual carriageway and there was a lot of fast moving traffic. I keep my iPod on loud to prevent me from hearing or getting paranoid about what is coming from behind.

The highlight of the ride was a five mile stretch a few miles north of Yangpyeong (a name reversal of the North Korean capital city, Pyeongyang) alongside the Han River. I cycled along a raise roadway and to the west, the river, flat as a mill pond, looked serene and tranquil. The backdrop was punctuated by dramatic mountains rising steeply covered in lush green pine and acer.

I completed the ride comfortably but my big toes were killing me from my new and probably slightly small cycling shoes. The pain in the outside of my left foot also persists.