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While I didn´t write much about Korea while I was traveling there, even in the dead of winter, I found it to be an extraordinary place to tour. Being tired, being completely unfamiliar with Korean, facing snow and freezing temperatures, the road from Busan to Seoul could not have been easier.

Korea was recently linked coast to coast, corner to corner, by a network of bicycle-exclusive roads. Paved to a smooth glide, paired to the country´s four rivers, well-marked and even spotted with shacks to put a sleeping bag in (during the summer), the paths are very user-friendly. In fact, my only complaint might be that they are so far from driving culture that finding food for lunch was difficult! With a little forethought and packing some picnic goods, even that was no problem. Beware also the unexpectedly steep and short climbs. I rarely saw one posted as less than 10% grade, but they don´t last long.

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That beautiful red road right there is for bikes ONLY. NO cars. Not one. Nope. Just us. The red telephone booth you see in the back is one of many that you encounter along the trail. Get yourself a cyclist´s “passport” from one of the 4rivers project information sites (I found one in Busan at the start of the trail). For a few dollars you´ll get a snazzy booklet of all the routes. You document your journey by adding the distinctive stamp of each phone booth as you go along. Collecting all the stamps of a path gets you a certificate; doing all the routes gets you a really special certificate. It´s an awesome motivation on those days when your head isn´t in the game.

Not to mention the friendly welcome of security guards like this kind one.

Here is a general map of the tarmac trails you could take. I look forward to doing the DMZ and coastal track someday:

I followed the Nakdonggang, Saejae, and Namhanggang path.

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Accommodation:

Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. You will pass through several towns on each of your ride days to stop and stay in. I found the cheapest and most comfortable shelter for winter to be the love hotels, so called by their options of paying by the hour or by the night. The night is a steal, about $15 to $20 for a very romantic room complete with jacuzzi tub.

In summer, I expect you can camp out very easily, using your own tent or just toting a sleeping bag to take advantage of the little shelters all along the route.

 

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