(Mudeungsan Beast - gpx file download)
This route has now pipped the lake route as my favourite route around Gwangju. It's an absolute beast. It's not that long, it's 67km, but there are a lot of climbs. Basically, you start by following the Gwangju lake route for about 16km, but when you meet road 887 turn right and head east.
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You keep on climbing, but look at that downhill at around 40km. That's an intense hill right there. I hit about 67 km/h right there! Make sure you wear a helmet.
This is the start of the big hill on the Gwangju Lake ride.
When you see these birds which are lined all the way along the road it means you are approaching road 887, so get ready to turn right.
The countryside in Korea is littered with strange looking restaurants and tea houses. Here are a few of them...
This is my favourite one. The roof is make out of loads of broken ceramic and bits if kimchi pots.
Did you know the Sydney Opera House was in Jeollanam-Do? Me neither.
At this junction you have two choices. The first choice is to carry on ahead and go through a tunnel, or the second choice is to take the right and follow a winding country road. I prefer the second option. The cycling is much more difficult, but I hate cycling through tunnels with the traffic. There are almost no cars if you take the long route.
Peaceful cycling. No tunnel. No traffic.
The Tunnel. Not much fun...
The sound of the traffic in this tunnel is deafening. Fortunately I took this route on a Tuesday morning so there was very little traffic.
The moment you leave this tunnel is pure bliss. Even one car at the other end of the tunnel is really loud. I kept turning my neck to see if I was about to get run over but the car was actually miles away.
Autumnal colours all round!
At this junction you need to turn right onto the 897. Despite looking like the 897 should be a main road it actually starts out like a tiny farm road (see below).
Could this be the prime makkoli drinking spot? Check out the view below.
A frustrated dog yapping and yapping. Nobody takes any notice of it. I could have robbed that house and not a single person would have known. What's the point of keeping that dog tie up like that?
This is what Mudeungsan looks like from the back.
Way up there in those rocks you can see Gyubongam Temple. I've checked it out on Daum maps (below), it can be accessed on some of the Mudeungsan hikes. That is a spot I'm dying to see one of these days. It looks impressive. I love all of those rock formations and I think they would look unbelievable in the winter!
When you reach this reservoir keep your eyes peeled for the next turn off.
Immediately after the reservoir you take a right turn and head towards Hwasun. Coming up is the most scenic part of the route.
This leg is a sensational overload. I wanted to take more photos, but the downhills were too good, so I popped my camera away and enjoyed the ride.
This is Hwasun in the background. This hill is one of the steepest and most fun hills I've ever bombed down. You have to be careful because the bends are seriously tight. Your brakes will definitely get a work out.
I cycled through Hwasun centre and hit up Namsan Shikdang for a mean kimchi jjigae. I was STARVING so I wolfed this down before getting back on the road.
Walking into this restaurant was like walking into a saloon. Everybody stared at us. It was jam packed with rowdy farmers and communicating with the women that worked there was a strange affair. The food tasted divine!
After Hwasun the quickest route back to Gwangju is to take road 22 from Hwasun, however it is a horrible experience as the road can be very busy and the shoulder is not very accomodationg. I like to take a longer route which adds 7km to the ride. I headed west along road 55 alongside the rail tracks instead. The first part of the road was very flat. There were ajummas selling persimmons all along the way.
After the persimmon ladies there is a very sharp and tiring climb before the turn off for road 817. Road 817 takes you straight back to Gwangju City.
There are lots of signs for boshintang (dog soup), so if you're feeling peckish or you want to see what dog tastes like, now's your chance!
On the 817 it's a slow climb up until this tunnel.
After this tunnel the countryside is over. You are back in the city, Nam Gu!