Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cycling Clubs, Forums and Trails in South Korea

Here's the question:

I was wondering if you could give me some info on cycling clubs in Ilsan or the surrounding areas. I know that Seoul is just a hop skip and a jump away but lugging a bike there may be difficult. I am just getting into cycling because running at Lake park is starting to get too packed and I need something to do on the weekends since my girl is so crazy busy on the weekends. Any advice you could give me on hiking, cycling, or tennis clubs would be great. Also, any discussion forums where I could meet similar minded folks who speak a bit of English would be greatly appreciated since my Korean is just getting started.

Todd W.

I love these questions and this one is particularly fabulous because it covers so much. That said, I think it would be better if I split it up a little. This one will cover only cycling.

First of all, let me refer you to the little write-up I did on Ilsan. It doesn't cover your question, but it might help some new info seekers. The Lake Park can get very crowded since those types of parks in Korea are geared towrds families or first dates. They're great for a casual stroll, but if you want to work up a good sweat, then you gotta find a better place.

For a nice breakdown of bicyling in Korea, check out this site. It's more of an overview, but helpful nonetheless. There are not many well-established long distance bike trails that cover some serious ground, but you have a couple options. The Imjingak Bike trail is just west of Ilsan. It's a 82 km loop trail. It sounds intense to me, but if you're in good shape I would go for it. There are also six other pretty decent trails in Gyeongi-do, but they are all south of Seoul.

I am not much of a cyclist, so I don't have any personal recs for you, but I did find a lot of resources.

  • Bicycling in Korea has some simple information

  • The Korea Sparkling site allows you to create your own trip

  • Filthy seems to be the best and offers a lot of information about both street and mountain biking

    • As far as forums go, I found a couple.

    • Mountain Bike Korea

    • As always, there was a pretty good forum over at Daves
    • Facebook has one here

    • I found only one active club which was Filthy. Here is their info...

      I also found a few random Korean-language sites that might help at some point.

    • Wild Bike

    • Corea Road Bike

    • Young Cycle

    • At Hat

    • OD Bike

    • And here are a couple maps...

    • Filthy maps

    • Greater Seoul Cycling map

    • If you are into cycling, I would head over to some of those forums, ask about some good bike shops and start working yourself into a club. If you're really in for an adventure, the DMZ is opening up a cycling path this coming September. That would be interesting. And don't forget the Tour De Korea.

      If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at or leave a comment.


      Open Micah said...
      This comment has been removed by the author.
      Open Micah said...

      All the sites The Expat listed are great. There actually is quite an extensive community of cyclists in Korea (and in and around Seoul, in particular.) The only advice I would offer about them, though, is that a lot of the information is out of date. A lot of people start online cycling communities for the time they are in Korea, but as temporary as their time in Korea is, so too is their online info. Make sure that the info is current. Also try to contact people at shops near you (either from a website or by actually going to the shop). The best resource for biking in Korea are the people actually out there on the trails and roads. Whatever you do, just know that the riding in Korea will be different than anything back home. Seoul (and I assume most other big Korean cities) are not bike-friendly places, and it can be frustrating--and sometimes dangerous--riding in town.

      First you must consider the traffic. Korean drivers have almost no exposure to cyclists on the road and they don't know how to react to them. They often cut cyclists off or drive way too close. They also like to open car doors quickly without looking to see if there is a cyclist (or anything else) coming. That said, pedestrians aren't much better. People on the street are usually terrified of cyclists on sidewalks and they react very awkwardly. (It kind of ties in to their narrow sense of personal space and their inability to walk smoothly in a crowd. I could write for pages about this, but now is not the time.) Basically, just know that people on the street aren't expecting you. If you aren't a car or a delivery bike with motor they can hear, they will be surprised when you come rolling past. And when Koreans on the street get surprised, they usually freeze in panic.

      You also should consider the smog. Seoul is a congested place, and on the street level, the pollution is really bad. If you are riding on the roads, you will feel the exhaust of the cars and busses as they drive by. It might not be bad if you only have to commute a short distance, but if you are trying to get some exercise--like, say, riding an hour out of town to some mountains, country roads or other less-congested areas--you will feel the smog. It will get in your eyes and in your lungs. You will feel it on your face. It might even make you break out. (In Seoul, the air is much cleaner on the Han River trail, but the trail itself is usually chock full of people and it is hard to get serious exercise--especially if you want hills and speed. Still, the trail is really nice, and if you want a nice, leisurely bike ride, the Han River is the way to go.)

      But should all that change your decision to buy or bring a bike while in Korea? Did it change mine? Absolutely not. In my opinion, it's better to deal with the quirks and frustrations of riding in Korea and actually get the bike time that you need, rather than being stuck in Korea for a year frustration-free, but with no bike time at all.

      brad baughman said...

      Dude, you are awesome. Keep up the good info.

      Steven Crook... said...

      I live in Taiwan and have met quite a few Korea-based expats traveling here. The cycling in Taiwan is awesome!

      Steven Crook

      The Damus said...

      how bout fixed gear riding clubs in seoul or area's near camp humphreys? said...

      Fantastic blog!! Where is a good place to buy a bike in Seoul (or even better Ilsan)?

      GlosColl Class 16 said...

      Just wanted to add some new information to the page. If you're interested in bike racing in South Korea have a look at our team's page. We're an amateur team, with a mix of expat and Korean riders;

      Unknown said...

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      - Bicycle tours in Korea:bikeOasis KOREA

      - Bicycle tours in Seoul:Seoul City Bike Tour

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