Ride Reports

*** soon to include maps! ***

Unashamedly unscientific. I looked at my watch to monitor speed and distance, and to plan the route we used a combination of blogs, Google Maps and my favourite pedometer site to estimate terrain and difficulty.

Day 1
Stamped up and officially started the trail at the Yeoido stamp stop at 9:15am. Stayed on the south of the Han all the way from there to Paldang-daegyo, which is a mistake if you’re collecting the stamps. Head to the north bank over Banpo bridge to collect the Ttukseom Resort stamp and you’ll eventually be signposted to the south bank again.

Dawdled very much on the stretch between Yeoido and Hannam city, but the route is virtually flat and very well maintained all the way, with lots of water fountains and bathrooms. Passed Paldang bridge just before midday, and stopped at Neungnae Station stamp stop at 12:30.

There was a bit of confusion in the signposting heading out from Neungnae as there’s a junction with a different trail. Ignore it and follow the 4대강 signs towards Yangpyeong.

I arrived at Yangpyeong just after 14:00 and had an hour’s lunch before setting off on the final leg at full pace. Again, the route is flat and easy and I got to Ipobo stamp stop just before 16:00, and finished at Yeoju-bo at 16:50. I may have stopped for a couple of photos; riding time for the whole Yangpyeong to Yeoju leg was about 90 minutes.

Day 2
Set off from Yeoju city at 09:50. Didn’t take the time at the first stamp stop, but it’s virtually no distance at all. The road is all well-maintained, flat bike path beside the river.

Somewhere in Gangcheon, early in the journey, I misread the signs and ended up on a small road over a couple of minor hills where the river bends to the east and then south again. It wasn’t a major detour and I don’t think it added any time, but keep your eyes peeled!

There’s a kilometre or so of road that’s in the middle of construction at this time (June 2015) a little after Danam-ri. That really will slow you down, especially if, like me, you’re on a road bike. And the whole stretch from Danam-ri to Binaesum certification centre is gently rolling hills on a minor shared road. I reached Binaesum at 12:30.

From Binaesum there’s a mix of flat bike trail and gentle hills on minor shared roads, all easy going. I got to Chungju (without visiting the dam) at 14:00.

I know I left Chungju at 15:00, but didn’t record the time I arrived in Suanbo. It was roughly around 16:30. The route between Dalcheon-dong and Danwol-dong as you’re leaving the city is a little unclear, and again there are some roadworks through Danwol-dong at this time, but once you’re past them it’s plain sailing all the way to Suanbo. Most of the route is on minor shared roads, but there was very little traffic.

Day 3
Left Suanbo 08:15, arrived Ihwaryang pass 10:05. c. 19km, 35 mins climbing last 5km. Gentle and steady going.

Left Ihwaryang pass 10:37, arrived Mungyeong Certification station 11:45. c. 22km, 10 mins downhill then all flat, by the river, and mostly very picturesque and sheltered from the sun. Stopped for a great lunch, wish I could remember where, but about 15 minutes after the Mungyeong station Certification centre there was a fantastic 순대국 place, possibly in 호계면. The very welcoming owner even gave us a bottle of iced water each, ‘service.’

Set off again at 13:15 and rode solidly to the next certification centre at Sangju sangpun bridge by 15:00. c. 30km. The route is all entirely flat through the wetlands. Tough going as it’s totally exposed, and in the afternoon sun that’s no joke.

Rode from there into Sangju city for the night as the next option in Nakdong, a further 20km. Sangju is a further 10km, and there’s a ridiculous climb from the trail on to the road. Be prepared to get off and push for 5 minutes, then join the main roads into the city. There’s a small pension and a motel on the way in, but it’s a cool place to venture in to and spend the night, with lots of motels along Sambaek-ro if you follow signs for City Hall. Stay on the main road if you’re tired, the bike trail takes the scenic route along the river.

Day 4
Left Sangju city at 08:15 and took route 25 to 강창 bridge in order to double back to Sang-ju dam Stamp Stop which I missed yesterday as the turn in to the city was several kilometres earlier. Took a 3km detour to double back from the bridge. If you’re travelling straight through it’s 11km from our final Stamp Stop last night at Sanju sang pun bridge. The Sang-ju bo stop has a major certification centre with all mod-cons: loos, staffed booth, vending machines.

At 09:15, set off from Sang-ju bo in good form and with a slight headwind. The next stop, Nakdong dam, was a little over 16km. The route between these two stops has a lot of up and down. Only short distances, but wearing at between 7% and 13% gradient. Reached Nakdong dam at 10:05. The route here is great, although a lot is under construction or recently finished. There will probably be cafes and mini-marts here very soon, but at the moment facilities are sparse.

Set off from Nakdong at 10:25. The route from here for the whole of the rest of the day was mostly flat along the river, and also mostly exposed and, it has to be said, not that interesting for vast swathes. Reached Gumi dam, 19km, at 11:30. This is a tiny staffed certification centre. Didn’t spot toilets or air. Rode on to Gumi city for lunch, c. 20km further on. Reached ground zero in the city at 13:00 although going slow from wear and tear in the ankles and knees. Gumi’s a big city and a good stopping point if you need to plan in an overnight.

Set off again around 14:00. The trail goes through the city along the river, but gets a bit tricky where the countdown posts reach 0 and change to the Childok-bo signs. We took an accidental five minute detour through the city heading in the general direction of the river and picked the trail up again on the river bank.

The ride from Gumi dam to the next Stamp Stop at Childok dam is 35km according to Ko Water’s signage. From the city it’s c. 15km and it’s another flat, easy ride. Arrived by 15:00 and set off again fast. There is a good centre here with air for your tyres, loos and vending machines if you need them.

The last ride of the day was through wetlands with a very small bit of up and down beside the hills as you approach Daegu. Gangcheong goryeong dam is just on the outskirts of the city, a little over 35km from Childok dam. I made it at 16:50 at a very slow pace, you could easily make it in under 1.5 hours at a good pace. The trail goes right and over the dam, but Daegu is a good city for an overnight if you need it, in which case turn left and follow the main road up to Gangchang bridge and into the city. There is a bustling motels district within 5km.

Day 5
Left Daegu 8:15 and was at the trail at 08:45 and crossing the dam. It’s 25.5km to the next stamp stop, Dalseong dam, and all very flat, easy riding. Lots of loos along the way. I was there shortly before 10am.

The next stamp stop is Hapcheong changnyeom dam, a further 35km. The trail goes off the river and into Dalseong briefly, but I lost the trail and ended up on an hour’s very non-scenic detour through Dalseong and Guji before hitting the trail again, although this detour did cut off a lengthy curve in the river and so may be worth plotting in – it depends whether your priority is speed or scenery. Arrived at the dam just before 12:30pm and stopped for an hour for lunch. There’s a CU and some nice shelter. There’s also an outdoor gym if you want any more of a workout!

From there, Namji is around 7km short of the next certification centre, so just under a further 50km. There are some flat, some small hills, one 1200 metre long climb at around 10% gradient and, once you’ve crossed back to the north bank, another sharp and winding long climb which descends directly into Namji. A lot of the riding is on small roads rather than dedicated cycle trail, but there’s minimal traffic. I left Hapcheong Changnyeong at 13:20 and arrived in Namji at 16:00.

If you want to spend the night, there’s a long strip of motels at the back of the town. I also spotted sports massage, but didn’t investigate.

Day 6
Left Namji late at around 10:45. The first stamp stop, Changnyeong Haman dam, was further than expected and took around thirty minutes to reach. The route is part bike path, part road.

My timings for the day were very slow after this due to rain stops and some luggage problems with the bike rack which meant I couldn’t push the speed. Finally arrived at the final stamp stop for the day, Yangsan water culture centre, at 16:00. Turned off the path and under the train tracks there to stop in Mulgeum-eup for the night.

Day 7
Very late start at 12:30. Arrived at the turning point from the 4대강 trail to Jan Boonstra’s trail at 13:15. This is at Gwaebeop Renecite station on the purple line. All flat, easy bike path.

From there it’s 7.3km to the end of the Nakdong river trail at the Nadong-gang estuary bank certification centre. I took the detour to go and get the final stamp. Again it’s flat, easy riding, but the bike path is shared with pedestrians so speed is fair to low. I made it in 25 minutes.

After detour and lunch, set off again across the city at 14:35 and hit Haeundae beach by the Westin Chosun hotel at 16:45. It is all big main roads from Gwaebeop Renecite to near BEXCO, where you can pick up the beach bike path. Beware: Busan’s bike paths can end unexpectedly!

In retrospect, I’d have made this part of the ride one long, final push. The route is almost all riverside bike path in good condition and there are no hills. The final part of the ride through the city is unavoidably hellish, but then you can collapse on the beach!

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