OK, I'm cheating the posting date a bit, marking it for yesterday. I was too tired to write it yesterday, so it goes up today.
The weather was lovely, temperature up in the 50s, if I judge correctly, and the sun was out. It was the day after Solnar (the Lunar New Year, see my next post), and I had no duties. So I rode my bicycle to and up Dalmaji, round trip 27 km (16.5 miles). The distance isn't the killer so much as Dalmaji the hill.
It's a lovely, scenic road. Once you get started going up, it doesn't let up until you hit what I call Dalmaji 1, a wide spot in the road with a little convenience store, restrooms and a small parking lot. Because Monday (sorry, today) was a holiday, there were hundreds of people up there. I didn't pass many cars on the way up, but the fact that I passed any at all speaks to the traffic jam to get to this lovely, scenic place. I didn't stay long to enjoy it, maybe five minutes. Just long enough to take off my helmet and jacket, drink some water, and pant like a dog. I didn't want to cool off too much because it's easy to get a chill coming down off a hill like that.
From Dalmaji 1, there is a descent of about one km and a small bridge, after which it starts to get ugly. The first stretch of the road is where I took a tumble riding down a few years ago. It just climbs and twists in the way that mountain roads do. After much panting, sweating and swearing, one reaches Dalmaji 2. Dalmaji 2 is the real peak of this road. It's wide enough for a couple of cars to pull off, but there are no facilities to speak of, and the view isn't really that good. Even biking, I only stop to take a drink.
Look at me, using simple present, as though Dalmaji 2 were a frequent destination for me. I haven't been up there for a long time. I'm not sure that I even made it last summer. It's a long haul without a partner, and I have lost Earl as a biking partner. He is suffering from neck problems, and his doctor strongly recommended that he give up biking for the foreseeable future. I hope that is able to pick it up again some day, as biking is a true joy, if not an obsession, for him.
I am planning to ride Dalmaji 2 again soon, but it is not my final goal. My final goal is Kumryung Mountain [sorry, I originally wrote "Kumkang" mountain, and there is a difference]. There is a nice, mostly new paved road going up in my in-laws' neighborhood. It stays in good shape because it doesn't continue through, so people only drive up there for the view, then turn around and drive back down. It makes Dalmaji 2 look like a picnic. It is non-stop up for longer than I care to think about, after which is rolls along the ridge for a bit before petering out.
I am hoping that by the time we get to Kansas I can go into a bike shop without the salespeople laughing behind my back. I don't think there is anything to compare to Dalmaji, much less Kumgang Mountain in Kansas. I'm not sure if Kumgang Mountain qualifies as an actual mountain, but it's more extreme than the Flint Hills of home. In Kansas I'm figuring that distance and rolling hills will have to make up for the lack of geological upheaval.
That's it. The more substantial stuff is in the next post, which I am already working on. I'm sorry there are no pictures of these places I've been biking, but taking pictures from the bike is a bit beyond me at this point, and stopping for photos will drag it out a bit more than I want. Still, I will put it on the agenda, because I would like some visual reminders of this exercise.