Published! The Elevation Game: The Best Road Cycling Climbs in South Korea

Happy to announce that my book has just been published (hardcover, 280x220mm, 300pages) by Andrebada publishing. After three years of suffering, sweat, and frustration it’s now available domestically online via Coupang and online from Kyobo. It will also be available in-store at the Kyobo Gangnam location by March 21st 2022. International orders and shipping are currently unavailable but will be sorted out after the Korean translation is released at the end of March. If you live outside of Korea and are interested in purchasing a copy, contact me via email at cyclingsouthkorea@zoho.com or instagram @asmartinseoul.

Here is the description of the book from the dust jacket cover:

“The Elevation Game is a photographic tour of some of South Korea’s greatest locations for road cycling. Introducing and celebrating the country’s mountainous geography and natural beauty, the book visits the biggest, best, and most beautiful road cycling climbs across the peninsula from Seoul to Jeju Island. Each climb is presented both photographically and through detailed written descriptions that describe the unique aspects and experiences of each climb. Along with these descriptions are various additional notes, recommendations, and Korean cultural information”

And here is an excerpt from the book about Misiryeong, a great climb in the northeast outside of Sokcho:

Misiryeong

Category 2

Distance: 7.8km

Elevation Gain: 608m

Average Gradient: 8%

Located just outside the coastal city of Sokcho, Misiryeong is one of the most famous mountain passes in South Korea. It rises up below Seoraksan’s Ulsan Bawi—or Ulsan Rock—one of Korea’s most iconic and inspirational geological features, a naked stone ridge of sheer cliffsides that aspire skyward, equanimous and dignified, sublime and arresting. It truly is magnificent thing to behold.

For much of the climb Ulsan Bawi is the dominant scenic feature, but the rest of the climb is also pretty. At times, in fact, it is resplendent, especially in early mornings and at sunset on days when ocean mists settle into the valley between the mountain ridges. Climb up through these mists to the small rest stop at the top of the climb and look down over the slow-moving masses of fog that in the right light can look like purple and pink candy floss. On clear days enjoy unabated views looking out over Sokcho to the ocean beyond. 

The climb itself is not an easy one, but neither is it terribly difficult. Much of it is fairly steady, but like many climbs, it has some rather steep ramps to contend with. The main Strava segment puts Misiryeong at just under 8km starting at the turn-off from the main road that tunnels through the mountain. But the climbing begins much earlier when riding out of Sokcho, making the total amount of climbing closer to 12km at a 6% average.

Ulsan Bawi: The tale of Ulsan Bawi is an interesting one. It says that stone was needed for the creation of Mt. Geumgang much farther north. These giant rocks left from Ulsan in the south to make the trek, but because of their size they moved too slowly and rock was no longer needed at Mt. Geumgang. Embarrassed to return to Ulsan and disappointed, the stones sat down and cried a lake of tears. The stones were then visited by a divine messenger who said that while Seoraksan might not be as great as Mt. Geumgang, it is a better place than Ulsan for such magnificent stones. Thus they chose to remain at Seoraksan and from that point onward were known as Ulsan Bawi. 

Honorable Mention: The western side of Misiryeong, which isn’t comparable to its east side, is also a climb worth riding. It is about 3.5km at an average grade of 8% with a long uphill drag to the start. Much of the climb, however, is in the 10-14% range. What makes this a climb worth doing is that you can then descend the eastern slope into Sokcho. It is a highly technical and incredibly fun descent, making any ascent of Misiryeong’s western slope a highly rewarding experience.”

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