Seung Gyun Jeong's Ride
I usually do this ride on a leisurely weekday, stopping at the Rapha Clubhouse Seoul for an espresso first. I ride from Garosu-gil to the Han River and out East. After passing Jamsil and Cheonho, I cross Paldang Bridge to the north end of Han River at the end of Hanam, after 27km of riding. Through old train tunnels I keep riding then enjoy a little rest at the Yangsu station of Gyeong-Eui Jungang Line, the gateway to the east of Seoul. From there I continue into the hills of Gyeonggi Province near Yangseo, which is called the Eastern Hills. I’ll ride up three of the best: Beot Gogae, Seohu Gogae, and Myeongdalli, then make my way up into the Seorak village before travelling back and round to Yangseo. At the station you can decide to take the bicycle path or the train home - depending on how tired your legs are after all that climbing!
Download the gpx route
I have lived in Seoul since I was a child. I remember my parents’ daily routines were always busy. It was a time when Seoul’s population grew rapidly, so competition for establishing oneself was inevitable. Naturally, there were many times when I was alone at home and my parents were worried so one day they gave me a bicycle with a safety wheel. It was the beginning that led to my life now.
I hopped on my two wheels and rode around the town. I felt the pleasure of running without my feet touching the ground and travelling far and fast with only the strength in my legs. Even though there was sweat on my forehead, my shirts were drenched, my small thighs were tired and I could not walk, I was happy.
I graduated from junior high school and became a high school student. I kept riding my bike, and then started racing, even winning a few times. When I graduated from a high school for the athletically gifted, I drew the attention of a few professional teams. I joined one and participated in many races.
I had a dream of putting a national flag on my chest and participating in the Olympics, but the dream, like the clouds of high heavens, was out of reach. I had a succession of accidents and injuries and road cycling as a passion of youth came to an end.
After stopping riding for awhile, I got back on my bike in early 2014. I got together with colleagues who I rode with as professionals in the past, because I missed it. That healthy energy, the rush of the road, the thrill of the moment, and the sense of accomplishment all came back with them.
I joined the amateur Watts Racing Team with them. My muscles in deep sleep and what winter was the most painful. Because of the heavy training, I had no time for my thighs to feel comfortable. I enjoyed it though. It was a moment of reawakening.
The reunion between me and the road bike was a great success. During the 2015 season, I stood up on the podium in a number of local races including winning the Tour de Korea special sprinter’s jersey, time trials, and criterium.
This season I have stepped back from team leadership to helping other riders win stages. I don’t have the explosive power of a teenager or twenty-something anymore, but I still have more ‘seasoned’ skills to offer.
Nowadays, I hear people calling me ‘Mr. Athlete’ and I appreciate the recognition, even if it makes me a little shy. Joining the regular Rapha rides, one of the most pleasing things for me is that I have discovered a side of Seoul that I didn’t know before. I can see things that were not found in the past when I was an elite cyclist. Antique buildings and ruins all around the city. Sometimes I feel like I am in a museum.v
When I push the pedals in nature, like Bukak and Namsan, I simply enjoy the feeling of peace. In addition, I sometimes head for bicycle paths built around the Han River. It isn’t easy to ride in Seoul, however. The drivers do not always welcome riders. Learning the skills to navigate the roads comes with time and practice, but it isn’t a big barrier.
I am on my bicycle today in Seoul. I want you to be on your bike too. That way you’ll be able to enjoy life even more in this wonderful city of Seoul.