Tunnel Tribulations

(92 Kms)

Tuesday, 3 Oct, 2017

Sinnam - Chuncheon

We had additional ground to cover today as we hadn't made it to our planned stop at Yanngu. Our start was delayed as Jonno's rear tyre was a little flat. Turned out to be a leaking valve, and Simon replaced the tube.

It generated considerable interest amongst the locals, with people slowing down to have a look as they walked past. One man was very interested in Simon's bike seat, and rushed to get his own bike to show us his more streamlined racing seat.

It was apparent that we would be climbing from the outset given that the town was ringed by hills. However, these hills were special, requiring their own dedicated climbing lane. We encountered this sign many times over the day, each time signalling a long and relentless climb. Once over the crest, the views were magnificent. The road was quiet and we were able to enjoy the views and the climbs without too many cars passing us.

The hills around us, tough day ahead

The dreaded climbing lane sign

One of the views that met us as we crested hills

The terrain was very undulating and it definitely seemed more up than down, culminating in a long climb up to a tunnel. On the way up we disturbed what seemed to be a massive number of dogs based on the cacophony generated. Simon observed that it must have been where they breed the local chicken. Interestingly all the dogs were chained in the houses along the road. A good thing too, given the size and agitation of some of them.

Georgia climbing

We made quick time through the mercifully short tunnel. There is no shoulder in the tunnel and the cars don't slow down to pass. We then had a lovely long downhill into the town of Namyeong where we stopped for a coffee, not sure when we would next pass through civilisation. There was one heart stopping moment when we spied a road winding up a mountain in the distance but fortunately we were travelling a different route.

We took quiet roads out of town with only a short time on the main road before turning off to wind our way along the reservoir. It was incredibly scenic, with some lovely places to stop for lunch but it was not yet midday so a little too early. The road was again quiet, though undulating. At one point we stopped to help a family trying to pump their bicycle tyres, and they thanked us with little cups of iced coffee.

Views of the reservoir

Cycle art along the way

One of the many places to stop for lunch

Bicycle repair man to the rescue

We set ourselves a target of 50 kilometres before stopping for lunch. Despite the plethora of opportunities early on, by the time we were ready for lunch there was nowhere to stop. We sustained ourselves with a muesli bar at 60 kilometres and pressed on. We reached the intersection with the main road without finding anywhere to stop, so headed into the little town of Buksan opposite. We found a bench in their outdoor gym area, so could make our sandwiches.

Just in time as our next leg involved a 2.5 kilometre climb to another tunnel. This time we were on a main road with a lot more traffic, so we gathered together near the tunnel entrance, looked for a break in the traffic, and sprinted. It was only 850 metres but it seemed longer, with speeding cars and no shoulder.

Exiting the tunnel, we freewheeled down the next 4 kilometres. We had a few more kilometres to cover before we could exit the main road, just before the entrance to a much longer tunnel where bikes were prohibited. We passed through the barriers that we have seen along a number of roads near the border area. The blocks can be released to block the road to stop invading forces.

Road side blockades ready to tumble

To avoid the tunnel we had to climb for 3 kilometres up a steep hill. There was a Korean man about half way up who was keen for a chat. Jonno was already in conversation when I arrived. He talked about his plans to open an office to do guided cycle touring. He took our photo - but as I was a sweaty mess, I don't think it would be a good source of publicity.

Jonno at the top of the pass

From the top it was an 8 kilometre downhill run. It was about 4:30pm when we passed some fully loaded cycle tourers just starting their way up. We didn't envy them at all.

The road descends to Chuncheon

Jonno, Georgia and I waited for a while at the bottom for Simon. We assumed he must have got a puncture which was the case when he finally reached the bottom. We quicky picked up the bike path and found it a pleasure to cycle along. Dead flat and no hills in sight.

Chuncheon awaits

We found our airbnb apartment and settled in. We were tired but needed to eat so headed out straight after showering. We found a supermarket before we found a restaurant and decided to take advantage of our cooking facilities. This time cheddar cheese and crackers followed by pasta arrabiatta with crab washed down with a malty beer, and vanilla pecan ice-cream for dessert. Delicious.