The weather is fluctuating between minus five and minus fifteen. I’ve been warmly tucked away in my horrifically overpriced gym, but when Will mentioned if I’d been serious when chatting a few beers in about attempting to cycle to Busan overnight a final endurance challenge was set.
I haven’t been out on the bike for anything longer than 25km fun rides and the freezing temperatures were quite the concern, but once we’d talked ourselves into it we weren’t going to be backing down. I loved the sections of night cycling that we’d done on our last journey, the wind dies down, the moon can guide your way and the miles seem to slip away faster in the dark.
The nicest thing about this attempt was that we’d be going light. Last time both our bikes were loaded up with gear, making climbs especially quite the chore. This time I had some energy powders taped onto my frame and a spare tube in a tiny pack, but other than that the bike was light as a feather. Ourselves on the other hand were layered up in thermals and ski gear to get us through the night.
We set off in the late afternoon, giving us a few hours of daylight to get out of Daegu before the we hit the darkness. We’d picked a relatively warm day, with the night temperature dropping to around minus five. Will had packed us a load of hand and feet warmers. The feet warmers were a life saver on the journey. Your feet are relatively static as you’re cycling along, but also very exposed and quickly could become numb and frozen as the wind whipped over them. Heat packs were swapped out every few hours along with some jumping up and down to get the blood back into the feet.
We cruised out of the city at quite a speed and the first 70km or so breezed by. We stopped for some delicious hot spicy meat soup that put the warmth back into the bones and refreshed us for the overnight push. The paths were brilliant, unsurprisingly no-one else is dumb enough to attempt the ride, so we had the route to ourselves. We were cycling on the super blue blood moon night, unfortunately we got none of the red colour, but around midnight the huge moon lit the path to the extent that we had bright shadows joining us on the journey.
There were some beautiful views out across the night landscape during the ride and the no sleep exhaustion never really hit me. I felt pretty throughout the ride, my legs stronger from the winter gym sessions, and we set a nice easy pace for our journey. I did get a flat around 2am when we flew over quite a bump in a bridge, but luckily my spare held up for the rest of the journey and we finished a bit too early giving us 90 minute wait for the first bus back to Daegu, but that gave us an excuse to get some burgers for breakfast!
A goal for the journey was to break the 200km barrier for a day’s riding. I’m not actually sure if we did it as mine and Will’s stravas were significantly different. I stopped it at the official end point rather than the extra 10km we did after to get to the bus terminal and I had a short section where I’d paused it and forgot to turn it back on, but my record was just 175km. Will’s said we’d done just over 200km, but I’m not sure I’m convinced we managed it, I’m thinking more in the 190km range.
My bike is now very sadly sold, but it gave me some great adventures throughout the year and as soon as I’m settled again later this year I’ll be out searching for another machine to zoom around on and break that 200km barrier for sure.