5 Mountains in Korea
Ten years since our first trip, the 10th OMC took place in Korea. It was an 800km course starting in Paldang, heading across the peninsula to the East Sea and returning to Namsan, Seoul - with 56 riders altogether.
On the first day, the weather was delightfully sunny for the 100km trip from Paldang to Hoengseong. There was not much climbing, so all riders could reach Hoengseong without much difficulty. We were greeted at the campsite by a wonderful Korean Forrest aroma from the array larches, Korean Firs and pines that marked off the pitches.
On the second day, we made our way across Daegwallyeong about 140km to the Mangsang Auto Camping Site. The Daegwallyeong Old Road has very little traffic and sensation descent before reaching Southbound cycle-path along the beautiful East Coast.
On the third evening, as Typhoon Mitag loomed closer, we made the decision to head back inland - to go Inje - a day early. Without any decent amoung the 56 participants, we woke up uncomfortably early at 5 AM and packed up camp. The supporters took car of the waterproofs and found alternative accommodation. The adversity of the bad weather seemed to unite and strengthen the riders.
As we arrived at the bottom of the Hangyeryeong Pass around 2 PM, it was still raining. We approached the summit in thick fog - the visibility was reduced to less than 5m at times. Despite the fog, rain and endlessly winding road, we all drew inspiration from our youngest rider, Surin, was determined to make it through the day. Surin is a 12-year-old female rider who made her OMC debut this year. OMC riders saw her get straight back on the bike, having fallen off twice and did not give up until she reached the Hangyeryeong Summit safely.
Fortunately, during the late ride back from Inje to Namsan, the typhoon receded, the air cleared up and the brighter weather beckoned. On our final journey to the top of Namsan, we cannot forget the story of our oldest rider, David. Even though he was almost 70 years old, he completed the seven- day schedule. When Timmy helped his father climb the Namsan, other riders were impressed. Hyung- gon, who got a puncture at the bottom of Namsan, took off his cleats and ran up barefoot - pushing his bike. It was touching to watch and made everyone smile.
One Mile Closer was set up in memory Rob Gauntlett and James Atkinson. The boys wished that all young people would be able to have the same opportunities that they had benefited from themselves - OMC raises money to that end.