Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crazy mtb ride!

This week was full of mountain bike riding! Now that I have a car I can ride every day after school for an hour or so and still make it to my Korean class. So I think I rode 6 days this week! The weather was pretty good for mountain bike riding and the leaves are starting to get cleared off the trails. There are about 5 mtb loops that I can do in about 1 hour or less from my house which is nice. They all involve a long hard climb (think 2-3 miles at more than 7% on gravel roads ouch!) Saturday I joined the Korean mtb club I joined for a ride too. We rode at Gwanggyosan in Suwon. It was a much harder ride than the last one I went on and we did a bunch of really nice trails and some really crazy steps!!! Somehow I pinch flatted my front tire on a step too! Also Gwanggyosan is one of the most popular area mountains for hiking and so it was completely covered in hikers. We passed people literally about every 20-30 seconds not a place I would normally choose to ride on my own but it worked out OK with a big group. After the ride we at lunch and drank Mack goli which is a Korean rice wine. It was a really fun ride and I was really happy that my korean has improved enough for me to actually be able to participate in conversations! I need to keep studying though I still don't know a lot but I am happy that I am improving quickly. After the bike ride I met up with my friend Byung woon to shop for a GPS for my car and then he invited me to a thanksgiving party with some of his other american friends. It was great I met a lot of cool people and got to eat turkey, mashed potatoes and all of the other thanksgiving foods! Today I was supposed to go hiking with someone but it has been raining and cold all day so we decided to do it another time. This did give me a good opportunity to clean up my apartment at least.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cold then warm again!

It got really cold last week! It was getting into the 20s every night and usually not above freezing during the day. I thought it was the end of biking for a while for sure but I was wrong! Today its almost 60 outside!! They made a bunch of snow at the ski resort and even opened it but! Its pretty warm to ski now. I bought some new skis last weekend and I am looking forward to trying them out this weekend hopefully the snow hasn't melted!
I can' t believe how much easier it is to do what I want now that I have a car. The busses here are great and all but they take a really long time and you can' t bring a bike on the bus. Kyung Hee university where I take Korean classes used to be over a 1 hour bus ride and is now just a 30 minute drive! This weekend I used the car to go to a mountain that busses don't go to to hike with some friends. We hike up Jobi San(san means mountain in Korean). It was in the south part of Yongin about a 20 minute drive from my apartment. It was definitely the most beatiful mountain I have hiked in Yongin County so far! It is almost all rocks and the top has no treet just big rocks which makes for a huge panoramic view of a giant valley and other mountains. It wasn't a very tough hike but he view was really great! Saturday I went and bought some new skis with a teacher from a nearby elementary school. I am really pumped to do some serious skiing this winter. In 2 weeks my school is taking a trip to Gangwon do to ski which is where the big ski resorts in Korea are located. I am planning to go there again to check out some other resorts. Before skiing I am hoping to get in some more good hikes and bike rides though!

Friday, November 20, 2009


So I went and bought a car this week! Big thanks to my friend Chi Ha for helping me out and being a great translator between me and the dealership! I got a Musso made by Ssangyong which is a big Korean SUV. Its really awesome it cost me about $4000 plus about $1100 dollars for 1 year of insurance! I guess that will go down once I turn 25 in 3 years!!! The car is great lots of space for bikes and skis inside, it has leather seats, a radio, cassette player, tinted windows and AC! Its diesel too and seems to be getting pretty good gas mileage so far! which is really important when gas is $5-6 per gallon! The best thing about the car is it is my the first car that I actually bought with my own money that I earned! I feel so grown up! No more 1 hour bus rides to Korean class now its just a 30 minute drive!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Its getting cold!

It finally started getting cold in Korea. Today is the first day they have been making snow at the Yangji Pine Ski Resort! I bought my season pass last week and now I just need skis, snow pants, gloves and a car to drive up to the resort! I am working on that last one. Tonight I am going to check out a Musso (SUV sort of the korean version of a Ford Explorer) with my friend Chi Ha. Getting a car should make life a lot easier for me in terms of doing my hobbies and traveling to see people. For example there is a bike shop in my town but they don't have any of the tools to fix my bike or any parts in stock! The bike shop of the club I joined is only 12 miles away but I can' t get there very easily unless I ride on the weekends and now its really cold and I still have to ride a bus home even if I go there to get the bike fixed! Anyway I am really excited to get a car!
Last weekend was fun too. I hung out with friends every day and even got a nice hike in near Yangji! I explored a new mountain range that I just found the trail entrance to last week. The trails hadn't been used in a while and were covered in leaves but it was a nice one none the less. I hung out at Kyung Hee University on Friday and Saturday night too. It was a lot of fun. We went to a Singing room and hung out. Sunday I went to Seoul to have lunch and hang out with som friends. Not sure whats up for this weekend but if I get the car it will definitely involve driving somewhere that the bus doesn't go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Teachers trip, Seoul and A bike race!

I had a pretty eventful weekend. It started Friday afternoon with a teachers trip to Incheon. All of the teachers from my school got on a bus at 1pm and went to Incheon which is on the Western seaboard. We took a boat ride and ate a lot of RAW seafood! I ate raw fish and live octopus! It was very fun and I got to know some of the teachers at my school really well! Many koreans are very reserved but this trip was good for everyone to loosen up and for me to practice my korean skills.
Saturday I went to Seoul and visited some friends. it was fun! Sunday I had my first Korean bike race. I went with my riding buddy Chang Jo. The race was only about 20km from my house so it was a short drive. It had rained the entire night and it rained throughout the entire race! So it was gonna be muddy but I was still excited. I was in the Elite group so I knew I better step up! The race start was a bit messed up and all of the elite guys ended up behind the 400 other racers! but there was 12km of road before the climbing started but we still didn't manage to get to the front by the climbing so I had absolutely no idea what place I was in the whole time! I had a lot of fun though! It was one big loop no single track and the downhills were mostly paved while the climbs were dirt which was kind of backwards of how we would do it in America but still good. I met some of the other racers from the Suwon Alpha team and there is a guy my age who speaks pretty ok english unfortunatly he crashed on the downhill and had to go to the hospital to get bandaged up after the race! The race was super well run except teh start with lots of police and army people marshalling every corner and intersection. Also every entrant got a free multi tool and free buffet lunch all for $30! This was the best value race I have ever entered to say the least! After the race I relaxed and cleaned my apartment and then went to the Public Sauna/bathhouse with my friend scott. Overall a pretty good weekend and I am definitely ready for some more race action here although the elite korean guys can really climb well! I better train some more this winter if I wanna keep up this spring!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My korean skills are improving!

I had a great last week! I have been able to ride Monday, wednesday and friday after work and I keep finding more and more new trails! I go out on my mtb right after school gets out and hit the trails until it gets dark at 6. my korean class has been going well too! My korean is getting good enough that i can sort of have a conversation now! I went hiking with my friend Sunim from the camp I went to here 2 years ago and she barely speaks English at all! We spoke 95% korean for 6 hours! it was great. Saturday I had a great hike too. Saturday I went to Gwanaksan with a friend which is in the south part of Seoul and Sunday I went to Dobongsan in the north part of Seoul. I have been riding every Wednesday after school with my korean friend ChangJo. I show him the new trails I have found each week. This weekend we are doing a race in Ichon which is the next county east of Yongin where I live. Its a 35km mtb marathon style race and its about half road half dirt/fire roads. It has a few pretty descent climbs too. I have no idea how I am gonna do since I have never raced here but I am really looking forward to it! This friday will be really fun too. All of teachers from my school are going to Incheon for an ocean boat ride (from what I have heard teacher get togethers in Korea tend to get pretty crazy). It should be really fun and a good way to get to know the other teachers at my school. I am also planning to buy a car here in the next month. I am trying to decide between the Kia Sportage and the Musso (which is an SUV that is about the size of a ford explorer). They don't really have station wagons here so an SUV seems like a good idea since I plan to use it to ski, go to bike races and go camping more than anything else. Teaching and everything else is going pretty well too! Its getting colder now and it should be time to ski in about 1 month! I am pumped but sad that i won't really be able to ride outside during the week since it will be dark when I am not working! I definitely see how having a real job makes it hard to train!