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Juna1 - 9 missions from China to Korea

  • Category: Latest News
  • Published: Sunday, 27 August 2017 15:15
  • Written by JunaProject and Gilles

Dear friends of JunaProject,

We have some news regarding Juna1! Finally something is happening again, and for this we must thank Gilles, our Shanghai rider and TJ who took over Juna1 in Seoul in South Korea.

What Gilles did is simple extraordinary!!! First of all he took good care of the bike, fixing completely it and getting it back on the go. After that, he decided to go on an epic and unforgettable journey together with Juna1!

He left Shanghai for South Korea, then faced an awesome bike trip! Gilles completed 9 missions during his time with her... A huge step forward for JunaProject!

At this point we will leave you with the complete story that Gilles sent us:

Juna One - From China to Korea” by Gilles Pillonel

Dear Juna One,

Thanks for sharing an awesome week in South Korea.  After having been forgotten among half a million shared bicycles in Shanghai, you finally did find a way out of this never sleeping city. The coming adventure was going to be challenging and needed some preparation: cleaning, greasing, and even dismantling and fine tuning of your amazing automatic 2 gear hub (sorry I couldn’t resist =P). The rear rack was tested to carry 15kg load, including food, tent and stove. All this was done in the living room of a 17th floor apartment in Shanghai downtown. After getting approval from Juna Project Team, you were packed into a cardboard box and ready for an adventure! 

The flight to Busan went well and the first mission was easy (#1 take a flight). After remounting the pedals and pumping the tires, we headed towards Geoje Island. The itinerary was not fixed yet. The only goal was to head towards Seoul and find the next rider there or on the way. Bad weather and strong winds were announced along the east coast. So island hopping along the south coast seemed to be the best option. The first day was tough, because we had to cross Busan’s huge industrial and cargo zone and even ended stuck at the entrance of an undersea tunnel forbidden for cyclists. Fortunately a SUV driver took us to the other side. Juna One is foldable, yeah! And a new mission was complete (#79 hitchhike with the bicycle). It was getting late and after having been refused to camp on a beach, we found by chance a little lonely and car free island linked with a pedestrian bridge (mission #78 Visit a Car-Free island). Finally, a quiet place to set up the tent and cook some instant noodles! It was already 9pm and dark, but another mission was accomplished (#31 Go camping for the weekend).

Figure 1: Cargo harbor near Busan (day 1)

Figure 2: Camping on the car free Suyabang Island (day 2).

The second day I tried to find a map, in order not to have to rely only on my mobile phone. But it was impossible to find a proper road map.  In Korea everybody seems to use GPS and paper versions got forgotten. So I went on with the offline map from Open Street Map. The OSM app turned out to be very good and even helped us later to find the cycling tracks.  In the meantime, we were struggling to find the best way towards Saryangmyeon Island, sometimes forced to go on the fast track, when no other road seems to be available… That day we ended at the tip of a peninsula, desperately looking for a nice camping spot with access to the sea. That wasn’t easy, because the road is mostly high up and all the nice places are privatized. Fortunately Mr. John and his wife kindly invited us to pitch the tent in their garden. Mr. John is piano teacher and they run a little nice pension (www.maremio.co.kr). Great place, thanks for the hospitality. 

Figure 3: Mr. John and his wife who generously welcomed me in their pensions garden (day 2).

The next day we took the ferry to Saryangmyeon Island, another new experience for Juna One =) (#2 go for a boat ride).  After riding half around the island and having big challenges to understand what I was going to eat in a local restaurant, we took another ferry towards the mainland. Island hopping was nice, but too time consuming. It was time to head north towards Seoul.  On the map there was a big national park and a mountain culminating at 1918m. That was the way to go!

Figure 4: Ferry to Saryangmyeon Island (day 3)

Leaving the coast was a good decision. It was now possible to cycle almost 100km a day. We will actually never complete that mission during the trip. Korea is much more mountainous than I thought and cycling it without low gear is really tough! But the countryside is really beautiful. Sometimes the newly built roads ended in a construction stretch, but nothing can stop Juna One! The coming sweat and tears were worth it, especially because we were cycling a road with the feeling that nobody has cycled it before. At least we didn’t meet any long distance cyclist during the entire week! Day four ended in the rain at Jungsanri camping at the Jirisan National Park. The next day was going to be a rest day for Juna One, while I would hike up the mountain. A promise that I won’t hold…

Figure 5: Roads towards Jirisan National Park (day 4).

Figure 6: Tough time for Juna One (day 4)

Day five was one of the hardest and started with a 3 hours hike from the camping located at 700m to the summit of Mt. Jiri or also called Cheonwang-bong. Fortunately it was cloudy and not too hot during the ascent, but the down side was that I didn’t see anything from the top. The descent via Jangteomok Shelter is just amazing. There are plenty of waterfalls and natural pools. Just perfect to cool down, while the sun was starting to shine. When I was back at the camping, it was only 2pm and too early to stop the day. So I broke the promise, loaded Juna One again and cycled for another 40km. That day, with the little swim in the wild pool, can be counted as a little triathlon (mission #10).

Figure 7 Summit of Mt. Jiri and amazing private pool on the descent (day 5)

The next days were painful. I didn’t recover enough from the previous day and the roads ahead were full of passes. It was not easy and I had to push. I don’t know for how long, but totally over the entire trip it should not be far from 21km (mission #50). But again, without regrets, because the road we took was one of the most beautify of the entire journey. We passed by Muju, the Mecca of Taekwondo, and continued towards Daejeon. We often stayed overnight in gazebos, a kind of public pavillon, where locals meet during the day. Overnight, travelers are welcome to use them for camping. Bicycle touring always prepares a lot of surprises. Sometime the road just ended in a dead end and instead of heading back, there was the option of crossing a river. So let’s do it, nothing will stop Juna One! In terms of food the best experience was the octopus hotpot. The lady brought a bucket containing an animal alive, grabbed it with the hand and dropped in the boiling soup it in front of me. I was not prepared for that and looked shocked at this cruel spectacle. But later I realized, that actually most of the seafood is cooked this way and it’s good to be confronted to it. Like this we learn the value of meat and appreciate it in a more respectful way.

Figure 8: One of the many hilly roads (day 6).

Figure 9: Camping in a public pagoda, something natural in Korea (day 6).

Figure 10: River crossing after a dead end road (day 7).

Figure 11: Octopus hotpot in Cheongju (day 8).

Unfortunately, we couldn’t cycle all the way until Seoul. The lack of time and the need to find the next rider forced us to take the bus for the last 100km. But it doesn’t matter, the main goal was achieved: finding a new rider that will continue the adventure. Thank you Terence for taking up the challenge. Have fun, good luck and take care of Juna One!

Juna One, we had a good deal: I bring you out to Korea and you carry me and all the camping equipment for about 500km. You did a super good job and I won’t forget our adventure. Thanks for your commitment and good luck in your trip around the world! Thanks also to the Juna Project team and their cool idea. And btw, the missions #70 write a story and #74 Ride for 1 hour without stopping are also complete ;-)

Gilles, Shanghai, August 13th 2017.

Figure 12: Juna One with Gilles (left) and the next rider Terence (right)

Figure 13: Map showing the overnight locations.