Racing the tanks

(90 Kms)

Friday, 22 Sept, 2017

Yeoju - Suanbo

The Ann Hotel was right on the path, making for a quick start, once we finally were packed and ready to go about 8:15 am. A local cyclist helped us out with a photo, and we were on our way. It was a beautiful morning for cycling, and the views down river were gorgeous. We were all a little tender from our long ride yesterday, and it took a little time to loosen up.

Ready for another big days riding

We passed our first certification centre for the day, which was fully equipped with a pump and a shoe cleaning device. Not sure how often it would get used?

Today's first certification centre

Am I doing this right?

We had a dedicated bike bridge over the weir, and the path down the other side was the steepest yet, with a 21% gradient. The speed bumps made sure that we did not get off to a flying start.

No cars on this bridge

I think they mean us to slow down

The bridge over the weir

We continued along the river for some time, crossing a bridge onto a little island specially for campers. As we crossed back to the mainland, we could hear shouting and loud engines. We turned the corner to see a field full of tanks with soldiers in full gear ready to move them out. We cycled past slowly, to obtain a clear idea of the capability of the South Korean army.

A discrete photo of a tank

We headed into the nearby little town and detoured for a toilet stop. We weren't in a rush, and were watching the tanks move into line. Then we worked out that it wouldn't be a good idea to be stuck behind them as we cycled the hill out of town. We raced out of town with the tanks on our tail, but soon turned off, and let them continue on.

It was quite a climb out and eventually we were able to turn off the road and head back to the river. We found a spot for morning tea, with beautiful views down the river.

Today's morning tea view

It was very quiet on the trail, with only a handful of cyclists. The countryside was very rural, with varied crops under cultivation, and many of the farms had massive arrays of solar panels.

Riding through fields

Our picnic lunch was in a camping area, and met the necessary requirements of a bench and a toilet, unlike some previous sites we had considered. Over the day we had passed a number of campsites, all unpowered. Some had platforms to set your tent on, but minimal facilities.

We headed on towards Chungju, and stopped at a petrol station to pump up the tyres. A group of Korean cyclists had also stopped and were most excited to learn that we were travelling as a family. We had met a cyclist yesterday who said that he had never seen a family cycling together before, and wished his family would cycle with him!

Jonno worked out a short cut into the outskirts of Chungju, as the main cycle route continued via Chungju dam, which was not on our agenda. By this time we were on the Sajae bicycle path, and the early parts along the river were stunning. We found a spot for an afternoon tea of cheese and bikkies, enjoying the view to the waterfall, but not the Korean music being distorted through poor quality speakers.

Afternoon tea stop

Content after afternoon tea

It was with some relief that we finally arrived in Suanbo, and found the Suanbo Saipan Hot Springs Hotel. We were looking forward to enjoying the advertised hot spring water available in every hotel, heated naturally to 53 degrees. We were advised that the water was not yet available, as the tanks that serve the entire town have to be refilled at regular intervals. By 6pm we were becoming a little desperate for a shower, and there was still no indication of when hot water would be available. In the end we all settled for cold showers. I was so disappointed to cycle all the way to this famous hot spring town, to find that there was no hot water.

We did our usual approach of walking round the restaurant area to find the one that had the most customers. Most restaurants required you to sit on the floor, and with stiff legs, I would have preferred a chair. However, the most popular restaurant was floor seating, so in we went. We knew that pheasant was a local speciality, and that was all that seemed to be on offer. Everyone was eating pheasant shobu shobu, so we ordered the same.

A range of side dishes appeared including some interesting peanuts cooked in a sauce, different combinations of green vegetables and pickled radishes and the inevitable kimchi. A large pan was placed on a gas burner. which contained pheasant kebabs with onion, capsicum, greens and an unidentified bean product. Delicious. This was followed by stir fried pheasant with bok choy and different mushrooms. Next course was a raw pheasant and apple dish, which Jonno decided wasn't for him. Then we had the shobu shobu which contained a variety of mushrooms and bok choy, to which we added thin strips of pheasant. Next was sweet and sour pheasant and mini pheasant fritters with corn and peas. Noodles and bok choy were added to the broth for a delicious soup. We ate almost everything. Cycling over 90kms gives you an appetite.

Table laid with side dishes and mini kebabs

Cooked kebabs with dipping sauce

The Pheasant Shobu Shobu

The hot water seems to be working, so am going to try a bath......