To celebrate warmer than usual temps during the Lunar New Year holiday, Ryan and I headed northeast of Seoul to Gapyeong for a day ride into the mountains.
This 120km route starting from Gapyeong Train Station is highly recommended for anyone looking for twisting roads, manageable climbs, and fast descents. It’s especially good at the beginning of cycling season for getting the legs back in shape, as the first two ascents (Domachijae and Gwangdeok-gogae) are long and gradual at average gradients of 5% and 4% respectively. The final climb, Cheonggye-san, however, is a tough one, averaging 11% for the 1.5km climb. (For a much harder route, ride in the reverse direction and hit the steep sides of the hills).
The scenery along this route is quite nice, especially to start, as the course follows the bendy Route 75. If you ride it in winter, though, keep your eye out for ice. There were several areas along Route 75 that were hidden in shadows, typically at bends in the road. We were a lucky that we rode this route in the direction we did, otherwise we would have likely come off the bikes at some point.
The roads in the area are relatively traffic free with the exception of Gwangdeok-gogae, which was a little busy even in February. And until finishing the Gwangdeok-gogae descent, the roads are in excellent condition, though they do get a bit rough after the descent. And, as is usually the case in Korea, there were plenty of convenience stores and cafes along the way in case of a needed stop.
As mentioned at the beginning, the starting point is Gapyeong Train Station which is accessible via the Gyeongui-Jungang line on weekends (1 hour 45 minutes from Yongsan Station in Seoul) and the ITX with reserved bicycle car tickets (50 minutes from Yongsan).