Monday, 2 June 2014

Bugaksan and Namsan Loop (32km - Seoul ride)

This ride is not particularly long, at only around 32km, but it is a real bugger because of the elevation which totals 967 metres.

I prepared this one as a gift to Sean who was up visiting from Damyang. After a tough Friday night this was to be our hangover cure - an act of masochism. One of my favourite things about this ride is that it takes you past most of the big tourist sites in Seoul en route.

The first time I rode over Bugaksan I wanted to puke as I had not ridden all winter and I was bent hell out of shape. Recently I've been doing a little more riding than usual, but not a great deal, however I have been riding over Namsan regularly, so the hill practice meant that Bugaksan wasn't as bad this time round.

We started the ride outside CU mart in Haebangchon as it is right by my house and it makes a decent starting point. We headed off around the US military base via Noksapyeong and Samgakji stations. From there we headed up north towards Seoul Station and Namdaemun gate.

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Outside Seoul Station

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Namdaemun Gate. From here we headed towards Myeongdong before turning left and heading straight north towards Jongak and Gyeongbuk palace.

The Korean Village People


Jongno Tower

Once we got towards Anguk Station we made our way through Samcheong-Dong. Instead of heading up through Samcheong tunnel we turned right and headed up past Waryong Park (와룡공원) where we took a short break.

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Waryong Park.

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Shortly after Waryong Park (와룡공원) is a great winding downhill with some nice switchbacks. At the bottom of this stretch after a couple of minutes we took a sharp left by Suwolam Temple (수월암) and headed up a ridiculously steep hill until the first right turn. From here you keep climbing through a pretty wealthy neighbourhood which hosts many ambassador's residences. Eventually you will hit the Bugak Skyway.

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Time to rehydrate.

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There's a sweet CU mart and a fantastic viewpoint at Palgakjeong Park (팔각정 공원) more or less at at the top of the Bugak Skyway. We replenished ourselves with Gatorade and beer. From here it is just the most epic twisting downhill all the way until you reach Buam-Dong. Somewhere towards the bottom of this hill is a 3 way junction. Take a left here as it will lead you across a bridge and onto Inwangsan Road (인왕산로) which is fantastic to ride along. It eventually comes out by Sajik park, where you can take a left which will bring you back to Gyeongbuk Palace and Gwanghwamun.

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I stopped taking pictures after Gwanghwamun because the traffic started to get a little out of hand. We cycled down past City Hall where we turned left towards Myeongdong and then west past Chungmuro Station. Keep heading down Toeigye-ro 퇴계로.

From here you want to head past Dongdae-ipgu Station (동대입구역) and past Dongguk University until you get to the Banyan Hotel. Here you turn right into Namsan Park and keep on climbing. It's a 2km climb, although I don't know the exact elevation. The downhill is steep and the road quality is not fantastic so hold on tight and beware of the speed bumps.

At the bottom of the hill head home in whatever direction takes you home, which in my case is left towards Haebangchon, where I no doubt replenish my lost calories with a dirty pizza.

The ride took us just over 2 hours of actual cycling with breaks on top of that. I think we spent about 3 hours on the road as wee took quite a few breaks to soak up both the views and water from our bottles.

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