Each time we begin a new cycle trip, we wonder if we are finding it harder then last time, whether our stamina is decreasing. Starting this trip we were particularly conscious of these thoughts, having been off our bikes for a year. Happily, we felt great today, despite two arduous climbs, and confident that we could both put in much longer days again, when necessary.
After coffee at Gloria Jeans and a Facetime chat with the Victoria crew, we stopped to get our cycle route passports stamped at the Suanbo certification centre and then immediately began an ascent towards Ihwaryeong Pass in the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range. The ride involved two long, steep and winding climbs in quick succession, the second one 5km. On the way back down the first hill, we stopped to view the 1000 year-old Wonpung-ri stone relief carvings of Buddhas, on a 12-meter-high boulder-face near the highway.
On the second hill, 2 kms from the top we were passed by a road cyclist, who tried to encourage us by telling us we only had two more kilometres to go! He does this hill up and down every weekend. When we reached the top, the cyclist, Mr. Kwon, greeted us each with a can of peach juice. We had also been passed by a younger couple and soon we were all taking photos together. Then, it was a fast 5 km descent and back on to paths and quiet riverside roads beside village rice fields and orchards into Mungyeong. From here to Busan we will now be gradually descending.