Saturday, October 22, 2011

Korea Micro Adventures :: S24O - (Sub-24 Hour Overnight) Challenge, and a Mountain Cougar (Puma) crossing!

As part of my Post-expedition adventure searching for 2011, physical challenges cannot be avoided forever (although I have been on furlow for several weeks, following surf with Karl and the epi-marathon Korea Randonneur SBS1000 which I completed 478km in 28 hours,  (75 hours, 1000km for the Super Randonneur accreditation).  My knees ached something fierce during and after that ride. I lacked merino wool knee warmers (a full jersey in merino, like Icebreaker from New Zealand or Smartwool), so I had massive lactic acid build up and the tendons above my knee caps were stretched to their limits. The bodies immediate response (delayed during the race event) was not to use too much of them for a while, so I obliged for several weeks. So, here's the next adventure, a Micro Adventure in Gangwon-do Province which is northwest in the southern half of the divided Korean peninsula. I still ride supporting IDEAS and ETE as foundations worth a few moments to find out more about, try the links. What was unique about this adventure was crossing within 2 meters with a Mountain Cougar, also known as a Panther or Puma. Read on and here's to a big adventure!
 Choice of bikes, this S24O Micro Adventure's 1994 Kona Explosif
Prepare for your Micro Adventure with a list of simple kit. A mountain bike provides the greatest degree of flexibility. Tires are important, I will always recommend Schwalbe Marathon tires. A rear rack for a backpack or mounting touring panniers. Pedals that match your footwear. I use standard Shimano SPD pedals and Pearl Izumi shoes (both with about 20000km on them), both are highly durable and reliable options.

First, add an aluminum rear eyelet rack/seatpost rack (older steel frame MTBs have eyelets, new MTBs in aluminum generally do not). The alternative rear rack carrier for newer MTB's with disc brakes should be tough - Topeak Supertourist DX tubular rack w/disc mounts (I used this one on the HimalayasX2011, 3200km of road pounding!).

Always remember to wrap your aluminum racks wherever the panniers come in contact, (1) PVC electrical tape is sufficient or (2) glue used tire tubes for better protection. It is very likely in rough road conditions that aluminum racks will erode from friction, so protect them well.

Ortlieb Frontroller Classic panniers (waterproof, fits sleeping bag, Thermarest, chargers), SMP Italia (recycled comfort saddle),  Shimano Drivetrain, Shimano Deore LX Hollow crank is durable, SRAM chain and rear SRAM cassette  also changed after the S24O, (remember to change a completely worn chain and rear cassette/sprocket as a SET***, you'll know if your NEW chain doesn't match your old SPROCKET when skipping in several gears and riding smoothly in others).

Front suspension of MTBs adds to touring comfort. The Kona Explosif came equipped with 1998 Rockshox Judy Race 100mm coil forks, Topeak Defender FX fender, Top frame pad is pipe insulation (great for logos and crash protection), Shimano XT rotor/Hayes Trail Hydraulic brake (custom add-on, not entirely necessary unless flowing on unstoppable mountains fully loaded (or saving brake pads*). A little Vaude toolbag complete with patches, glue, tire pump with pressure gauge, Topeak Alien II bike tool. Last, I have an REI expedition -20 degree down sleeping bag, Northface Tadpole 2-person tent and Prolite Plus Thermarest.
 Starting out on the Micro Adventure begins with a warm up ride getting lost around Gangneung City.
 Meadows and a small trail leading to mountain tombs, valleys, and cliffs that I crossed. 
 Photos from the cycle-walk section of the ride
 I also use the recyclable and reusable Ortlieb waterproof map bag, it can be attached to a handlebar bag
 Panniers are great packing savers, a sleeping bag, a Thermarest, some batteries, clothing all pack inside.
 Getting lost is actually half the fun. Since I haven't been cycling in several weeks, a warm-up eased into it.
 Mask for allergies, even adventurers with asthma can still get out there and try!
Notice that tiny light at the front of my helmet? It's a tiny map reader made by Kovea in Korea. 
 What a view! Getting lost at the start offered some interesting landscapes and nature
 Perched up high and ready to climb down. 
 Expect some cardio exercise when climbing down hills with bikes, try to balance with your brakes!
 Can you name this plant? Lovely, isn't it?
 Finally impassible. So, I stopped for a photo and turned (left) upstream
 I was sweating and this helped my entire body warm-up for riding later in the day.
 ROK soldiers on their patrol around Gangneung, Gangwon-do
 Smooth roads begin to open ahead. I left the wilderness section all warmed-up and ready for some action.
 The allergy mask looks like a face diaper but it helps my lungs.
 Leaving Gangneung, it's Hwy 35 to Hwy 456 taking a cyclist to the 830 meter climb called Daegwallyeong.
 Feeling a need for more speed on Hwy 35, I accelerate up the pass which winds through a wide valley before twisting into Hwy 456 through the coastal mountains. Those gloves are Pearl Izumi lobster claws. 
 Battery pack is top-mounted on the frame, these are loaned by An Dae Gi - Gangneung Kevin Bicycles.
 Logo represents myself and several foundations [1] and [2] I support through adventure cycling
 I try to follow the rules of the roads wearing a highly visible reflective vest, ankle bands, and reflectors.

 It's autumn in Korea, a great time for cycling and enjoying the color changes of this season.
 Climbing this mountain requires a few stops, refreshment with water, and here I am laying on a cement slab.
 I use a simple BBB bicycle computer to track distances, average and top speed, trip and total distances. Java lights provided by An Dae Gi of Kevin Gangneung Bike Mart.

 Riding west up Hwy 456 quickly becomes an adventure into the clouds.
 Finally, I reach the top of Daegwallyeong at Pyeongchang-gun. 
Have a bite to eat at the Wind Hill Cafe at Pyeongchang-gun village.
Soup, pasta and side dishes of "muu" which is pickled , salad, hot chocolate
Java Lights provide brightness. The idea of a S24O is to travel and return home in less than 24 hours.
Feeling a little like a light bulb myself. Rainy conditions thoughout, but perfect for a Micro Adventure!
After cycling about 45 kilometers from Gangneung-City (starting on Hwy 35, then Hwy 456, there is a turn onto the Hwy 59 towards Taebaek and Jeongseon (Auraji, this is the rail bike location too!)  
Wet conditions throughout this adventure!
Hwy 6/59 towards Jeongseon/Taebaek Mountains. Along this section, I stopped at what looked like a closed restaurant. I wanted to find a Korean Won-du-mak which is a perfect shelter to sleep with or without a tent.
The Cougar (felis concolor) has one of the largest habitats of any feline species, thus their many names. Although, depending on were you live, you may be more accustomed to calling them Panthers, Mountain Lions, Pumas, or even Catamounts.
Hwy 6/S.59 also follows the Odaecheon River. The views are amazing with towering mountains on either side of you and the road passes through narrow sections between mountains and river which stays on your left while cycling southbound.  When I stopped near Jeongseon to have a look at the restaurant, I heard a deep-throated growl then it ran in front of me like a leaping tiger. While standing there alone on the side of the road with my bike, a huge Mountain Cougar (also known as a Puma, Mountain Lion) crossed my path, growled at me, then climbed the vertical mountain beside me. It scared the bejeezers out me, I tried to shine my helmet Cygolite Expilion directly at him to get a better look and keep a distance from him. Her cougar cub was also in the woods beside me, and now I was between them.
With adrenalin pumping, I started to ride out with the mother cougar growling on the mountain and the cub rustling in the tall grass, I pedaled away with my heart beating hard. Feeling bewildered for a few minutes, I wondered what had just happened, a close call with a wild animal?  That is the closest I have ever been to a live Cougar, or two, in the wild, yes -  it truly was a Micro Adventure in the mountains of South Korea!
After being stunned by the Cougar sightings, I rode miles further south to the junction with Hwy 42. If you ride Eest (Donghae/Imgye), the views are spectacular from several wide open rivers, where the road follows an outline of the mountains. You'll pass through numerous tunnels with windows of the nature scenes, and eventually ride over five, 6-700 meter mountain passes when everything turns into a thick fog over the last pass where you'll face the Pacific Ocean. Still deep in the mountains, you won't see an ocean, you'll ride through switchbacks and hairpin turns until the route finally opens up to another highway section of 42 built up for buses entering Donghae City from the northwest. There are several Won-doo-maks along this route ideal for camping shelters too. The last Won-doo-mak is built on a tower above the reservoir, have a great view of the lake from up here and it would make an amazing location for camping on a S24O.
Wet adventurer seeking a shelter for the night. Won-doo-maks in Korea
I didn't find a Won-doo-mak in the Jeongseon area. Instead, I camped inside a seasonally-closed food stall.
All dry inside, better than a tent in the wet weather outdoors.
Drying the clothing while sleeping inside the food seller's shelter.
I didn't need to use a tent either. I slept in a -20 degree sleeping bag. I left the bag open to well ventilate, as weather in Korea is balmy in the autumn.

View on south Hwy 6/59 the following morning
Spot of dry wood for sleeping indoors
Parking for a bicycle, everything is safe, dry and secure inside.
The terrain starts at 830 meters in Daegwallyeong/Pyeongchang-gun, and lowers to the 700-club level around  Jinbu, and continues to descend towards Jeongseon with occasional climbs.
It was drizzly in the rain, but rivers open up and make spectacular crossings on a bicycle

Rivers into Jeongseon. 
Mountain Tunnels along Hwy 42 (Taebaek-Imgye-Donghae) just outside Jeongseon City.
Routes are well labeled in English and Korean Hangul.
A bridge into Jeongseon City. This is a great town to visit while Cycling in Korea
Local stores in Jeongseon, Gangwon-do, Korea
JUMBO cargo bicycle. Used for delivery in Jeongseon.
Autumn in Jeongseon, Korea
Kimbap Restaurant Menu in English at The One One Four Blog (:
These huge rolls of rice, ham, egg, carrot, and "muu" radish wrapped in seaweed for $1.00
Rear wheel broke a few spokes and started to go out of alignment. Found the Jeongseon Bike Mart (Samchully Bicycle Shop) and he replaced the spokes and trued the wheel for 7000won and 2kimbap. By the way, if you decide to ride this route (Gangneung to Jeongseon) it's about 100km. If you continue to ride East on Hwy 42 (starting in Gangneung City, Hwy 35 (Gangneung) to Hwy 456 (Daegwallyeong) to Hwy 59 (Jinbu) to Hwy 42 (East to Imgye/Donghae) to Hwy 7 (Donghae) to Gangneung. The entire loop, 257km takes 3 days on a mountain bike with your loaded camping gear.

This was a Taste of Cycling in Korea, the end of the S24O Micro Adventure, & the start of my work week teaching ESL in South Korea. Thanks for following these posts, enjoy your next weekend adventure!


tiger/leopard conservation fund/ jeeyun said...

thank you very much! it was very nice to meet you and nice trip. we can keep in touch. really hope you are happy. good luck and god bless you. :)

Brian Perich said...

Thanks Ji Yun! It was great meeting you too, welcome if you are in Gangneung again. (: Brian

Please share the free inspiration and adventure cookbook with all your friends and families (:

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About the Korean-World Author

Brian Perich was an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lecturer for a decade, father, and adventure cyclist based in South Korea.

Previously, Brian has led Canoe adventures in Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan, Ontario, Canada (1993/1999); led Grand American camping adventures (2000); lived at Paramahansa Yogananda's SRF Ashram for 5 months (see the film "AWAKE"), formerly worked in titanium welding at Agilent Technologies, formerly worked in Winery industry in Marin County with Kendall Jackson in California; Surfing and Meditation continued for several years in California, British Columbia, South Korea, Yoga training in California 1999-2000.

Between 1994-1998 - Brian completed his own adventures with motorcycles. His motorcycling marathons took him across the United States and central/western Canada, while traveling solo over an astounding 24,000km in 60 days! Brian endured 900 mile/1300km average days in the motorcycle saddle and apparently loved every minute of those adventures.

Today, he has given up motorcycle adventures altogether, but finds an outlet for his enthusiasm in outdoor recreation while bicycle touring and micro-blogging about those experiences on his mountain bikes.

While employed as an English teacher in South Korea, Brian has became an advocate for bicycle touring on his mountain bikes. The Korean-World blog originated from those small adventures in Korea, now expanded to cover his recent trek down the TransMongolian highway to the Gobi Desert, cycling 900km east through the Khentii grasslands and in 2012 crossing Mongolia in 45 days, 2500 kilometers 1553 miles. HimalayasX expedition Brian previously cycled across western China, the Taklamakan Desert, the northern Himalayas of East Turkestan Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, the corrugated back roads and mountains of Kham Tibet. Brian successfully completed his 2011 mountain bike expedition with 3200 kilometers / 1988 miles unsupported, on/off road MTB adventure cycling.
Brian has completed his second mountain bike journey, MongoliaX expedition - Crossing Mongolia 2012, an unsupported mountain bike MTB expedition across 2500km of Outer Mongolia from Ulanbaatar to Altai Taven-Bogd National Park bordering China, Russia and Mongolia.

In 2013, as a sequel to a trilogy of cycle tours, Brian enjoyed a more leisure bicycle tour onboard his Koga-Miyata World Traveller seeing the northern tier of the United States and western Canada covering 3400 kilometers / 2000 miles in 30 days. This North American cycle tour was called Totherocktour. Enjoying the adventure of bicycle travel and every great conversation started while traveling on the road - has refueled his inspirations to cycle around the Earth. In 2013, while he cycled solo from the Great Lake State of Michigan, United States to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He weaved through local communities and reconnected with friends, family and community after spending almost a decade in Asia.

Brian is now supporting several non-profit foundations through expeditions: IDEAS Foundation of Canada IDEAS is the acronym for Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society which supports the IBD community, those suffering from IBD-inflammatory bowel disease, also known as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis.

The second non-profit foundation is ETE.ORG - Education Through Expeditions, UK which supports educational outreach programs inside schools around the world. ETE connects explorers with students in the classroom, through an interactive online program in development (Beta).

Brian is researching support for a 18000 kilometer bicycle expedition across the Americas: North, Central and South America - ONE -Arctic to Argentina
Please contact him if you are interested in helping out.

Twitter: Cycleagain
Location: Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea or southern Ontario, Canada.

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Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

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