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On yer bikes!Island hosts international cycling event
폰트키우기 폰트줄이기 프린트하기 메일보내기 신고하기
승인 2010.04.19  16:53:47
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▲ Bike enthusiasts racing in Jeju’s inaugural international bike competition. Photo courtesy National Bike Association

200 kilometers sounds like a serious distance. It sounds, in fact, like the sort of serious distance that trains, cars and buses were invented to negotiate. To put it in context, 200 kms is slightly more than the distance between Seoul and Pyongyang, North Korea, or equal to 4.8 marathons. Personally, I would rather walk into a cage of starving koalas dressed as a eucalyptus leaf than attempt to travel that distance under my own steam.

So when the first person I spoke to at the end of Jeju’s inaugural international bike competition, Min Nap Ho, told me it was “easy” and that he wasn’t tired, I asked again to be sure I’d heard correctly and was met with the same response. Surprised, I asked another competitor, Kim Jung Suk, and she told me exactly the same thing. To be honest, no one at the closing ceremony looked even remotely tired and they all said that the race had been “beautiful” and “fun.”

I was beginning to wonder if these people had really spent the day biking round the island or had instead just ridden round the corner to the nearest bar, spent a comfortable six hours beside a fire and then pedaled back. I didn’t really think they had faked it but everyone was amazingly joyful and not gasping for air like tuna on a trawler’s deck as I would have expected (or perhaps as I would have been).

The two cycling events over the weekend of March 27-28 were a 200 km road race along the coastal road and a hill climbing event the next day (I can only hope the hill climbers were more tired than their road racing colleagues!) A total of 1,800 cyclists took part, most of whom organizer Hwang Gyu Il said were not from Jeju.

The primary purpose of the event was not a competitive bike race but to allow people to experience the natural beauty of Jeju. The event aimed to pro-mote the government’s “green growth” policy and to promote bike riding in general. Hwang said turnout was the main area that could be improved on and that more ferries and planes needed to be scheduled to attract a larger number of participants from the mainland and beyond. He added that greater involvement from Jeju’s local population would also benefit the event, while thanking all those who helped with the inaugural event.

I am in awe of anyone who can bike 200 km and still speak, let alone chat and cheer as excitedly as the people I witnessed were. I’m pretty sure I haven’t cycled 200 km in my entire lifetime so hats off to everyone and let’s hope next year’s event is even bigger and better (although possibly not any longer).





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