Okay, I know it was only last week that I was writing about how much I loved mountain biking, how cool it was, how hard it was… and yada yada. Well, it’s only been my second mountain biking experience in Korea, and my perspective has…changed.
It all started Saturday morning…
Jared had just gotten back from an “extreme” mountain biking trip with his buddy Jeremy Diamond (I wisely opted out of this once since I knew my experience level was beginner–at best). He excitedly told me that he had met a European fellow on the trails who invited him to go mountain biking with him and his friends the next day. Jared told me that it was going to be an easy ride, and asked if I wanted to come along. I wasn’t quite sure about the idea, but after Jared told me that his new friend said “children and wives” are invited as well, I decided I could join the clan. I mean, if children are doing it, surly I can handle this. (Jared also mentioned that there would be a BBQ at the guys house after the ride.)
Well, Sunday morning came fast, and we loaded the bikes up and headed to the meeting point in the town next to us. We arrived promptly at 9am, and that’s when fear started sinking in… As we unloaded our bikes, I glanced at the group of professional looking mountain bikers across the street. Yep, not one child, and not one girl.
I quickly pieced the information together in my head and figured that the “women and children” invitation must have been for the BBQ, not the bike ride. Wow, this is just fantastic.
Not wanting to look like a wimp, I kept my mouth shut and shyly followed my husband over to the daunting group of men. They kindly introduced themselves, and then started explaining the route… We’ll go to Cable Drum Road, up the Blue Stairs, then to Aju Ridge, and then have a nice Downhill ride to my house.
After this, a few of the guys turned to me and explained that they could help me carry my bike once we got to the “Blue Stairs”… “Umm… okay, thanks” I stuttered.
[Disclaimer: I was too scared to take any pictures… However, a few other guys did take pictures so I just borrowed them. All photo credit goes to Geoje MTB.]
We started out riding on the road to reach our Cable Drum Road destination.
By the time we actually got to Cable Drum Road, I was thoroughly exhausted. This was the end of the paved roads… from here on out, it’d be real dirt/rock/boulder mountain biking. I just knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to make the trip. I quietly told Jared and I was turning around, and I’d see him later. He gently encouraged me to stay, and assured me that we would turn back if I couldn’t make it. I grudgingly agreed.
Up, up, up the mountain we biked. Of course, I was at the very tail end of the 15 other mountain bikers, but they would all kindly wait at each “meeting” point for me to catch up. However, since there were 3 or 4 flat tires that day, they really didn’t have to wait on me all that often. I know it sounds terrible, but I was so thankful when someone had a flat, because that meant that I wasn’t the last one to our next meeting point.
We finally made it to The Blue Stairs.
One of the guys kindly offered to carry my bike. He mounted his bike on his right shoulder, and mine on the other. I thought he was just going to carry it up the 25 blue stairs, but he kept going. The Blue Stairs was a deceptive name.
There were a few blue stairs at the beginning, and then hundreds of rock stairs after that. I breathlessly followed behind him (literally, my heart rate was hovering around 195-203). I could barely keep up with him. About a third of the way up, he handed my bike off to another kind man who offered to help. That man carried it another third of the way, and I offered to take it for a bit. I carried it about 10 feet and had to take a breather… then another 10 feet and took a breather. By this time, another gentleman had reached the top and had returned to haul my bike up the final stretch.
Thankfully, by this time, we were almost to the top. We biked a little more, and stopped at a pagoda to admire the view.
Little did I know that the craziness was just beginning. We started the Downhill portion of the ride. Biking down steep hills has always terrified me… Thankfully (not!), these downhills were narrower, steeper, and rougher than anything I had ever imagined. After receiving my first few tips of “how to” ride downhill, I bravely started the descent. I do remember at one point thinking, I just wish I could go back to biking up the mountain.
I was so thankful to have the help and support of my husband. He stayed back with me the entire time and assured me I was capable of doing this.
I will unashamedly admit that I was praying the whole time, Lord, please don’t let me crash.
Now, if you know me very well at all, you know I love adventure. Even while I was scared to death doing the downhill portion, I really did enjoy it. The technicality of it reminded me of snowboarding (my favorite sport)…the only big thing that stood out to me was if you crash while snowboarding, there’s a good change you’ll hit a nice pillow of snow… versus mountain biking–you’ll most likely go off the edge of a cliff, crash into a tree, or just plain die. The only thing I was really worried about was somehow losing control and going off the edge of a cliff. (Yes, a good portion of the downhill followed a cliff line, where crashing meant eminent serious injuries or worse.)
After all was said and done, I survived, and after all of it my interest in mountain biking only grew. I actually think that if I were to get some more practice, I could be a decent mountain biker. I’m really glad that Jared and I have something that we can enjoy together, and I’m looking forward to more adventures in the future (although I hope to soon have the skills to master our future rides!).
I do have one last thing to say: I’m giving
five a million stars to the Geoje MTB group! Everyone was extremely helpful, patient, kind, and welcoming. We had a great time getting to know everyone at the BBQ, and I don’t think we could ever find such a supportive group of mountain bikers anywhere in the world. If you’re in Geoje, and you’re looking for some fellow mountain bikers, I highly recommend going on a ride with them.
Are you ready to get into mountain biking?!