Sunday, June 23, 2013

I like to ride my bicycle

I went with a friend and bought it yesterday. It's a hybrid (I didn't know what that was before, but I do now). It's a beautiful turquoise and white colour. I have seven gears, a bell, lights (with three different flashing sequences), a basket, and a bicycle lock. 

I had been thinking about getting a bike, but I live on the third floor and there's no lift (elevator) in my building. Still, the man who sold the bike to me was really friendly and helpful. I wanted a bike, so I figured I'd tackle the logistics of the stairs one way or another. My friend was going to get a bike, too. She wanted to get the same one as me, we joked about having couple bikes. Sadly, the shop only had one, so this wasn't to be. 

When I got home, I found pushing my bike up the three flights of stairs trickier than anticipated. I figured there must be an easier way, so I searched Google. I came across this informative blog post by Sarah Wilson. I learnt my seven gears make my bike heavier, perhaps I didn't really need so many. Anyway, last night I practised picking it up and putting it down several times. Today I carried it down the stairs on my shoulder. The handlebars were a little wayward at first, thankfully I mastered it without suffering any facial bruising.

Next, I went for a dummy cycle ride to school, and then along the river by my house. I wanted to see how long it would take me to get to school (how much time I would save). I cycled slowly, navigating my way around pedestrians, cars, motorcycles in a 'zen' like fashion. I found it only really saved me about eight minutes. Whilst I was cycling towards the railway crossing, a woman cycling at speed overtook me. As she did, she noticed a pedestrian ahead. He was in her direct path. She rang her bell, but unfortunately he side-stepped in the wrong direction, she totally floored them both. As she clambered to her feet, she began shouting at the young man in Korean. Personally I felt she was going to fast, if he'd turned to look she'd still have hit him. He didn't really have time to see her coming, or move out of her way. This nasty little collision made me take the roads, and pavements more tentatively. The commute to school in the mornings will be even busier than a Sunday evening, with many more obstacles to navigate. Consequently, I think I'll continue to walk to/from school.

The cycle path along the river is safer, more scenic, and fun. Along the river it's generally pretty flat. Cyclists there tend to observe the path markings, etiquette and rules a lot better than Korean motorists and motorcyclists do (red light, what red light? pavement? you get the idea). 

Previously, I found that cycling in the humidity is actually quite pleasant, the movement creates a cooling breeze. So, I plan to cycle down to the Han river, and along there during the evenings and at weekends. Also, next bike party, I'm ready. Plus, earlier today my friend messaged to tell me that she's now bought a bike, too. So, we can go on bike rides together.   

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bike Party Seoul 8: Rainbow ride

Afraid I've become a little blog lazy, so I need to do a little catching up again.  What have I been doing with my time? Applying to renew my contract, researching what I might do when I go home, looking at applications and starting to apply (practice for the future), realising how many of my friends will only be here for a few more months, planning what I might do for the summer holidays, and playing candy crush. A mixture of productive and non-productive activities.

I have been wanting to attend Bike party in Seoul for a couple of months now, this hadn't happened for a couple of reasons. My friends were too hungover from the night before, or the weather had been dreadful. Today, a lot of people planned to go and see the new Star Trek movie. So, I assumed I was going to miss another Bike party Seoul. Then at short notice, Father Dougal messaged me to tell me that he was going and invited me along. As I went to get the subway towards Gangnam (the starting point) I realised that I would possibly be late. I studied the invitation to determine where the party stops would be en-route. 

"We are going to start in style near busy Gang-nam station (~6pm) this month working our way up to Sinsa’s fashionable Ga-ru-suk-gil and on to Han-Gang Park for the first party stop under Han-nam bridge (~7pm). The second party stop is near Han-gang bridge (~8pm) and the final party stop with have the spectacular back drop of the new Nam-dae-mun gate (숭례문 ~9pm) See you all there for BPS #8 it should be a good one!"

I noticed a couple of them were along the Han river. This was when I had the bright idea that I could hire a bike near the river and cycle with them for part of the route. I had previously seen a Bike hire place by Oksu station, which was near the first party stop at Han-nam Bridge. So, I headed to Oksu to hire a bike. The gentleman who served me didn't speak any English, but with my mime and my limited Korean he managed to show me how to lower/raise my seat, lock my bike, and I understood that I had to return it in two hours time. Success! The theme for this month's Bike Party was Rainbow ride. I was quite pleased with my bike because I felt it suited this rather well. 

Pink panther
I cycled towards the first party stop to wait for Bike Party. I messaged Father Dougal for an update, he confirmed they were near, and should be there soon. I sat and waited. There were lots of people cycling, but none looked in party mode. I waited, and I waited. Father Dougal messaged to tell me he was at the Han-nam bridge, he even sent me a picture of his location. I told him I thought I was as well, but I couldn't see anyone. I guessed I was in the wrong place. I told him not to worry, and have good one. I started cycling along the river, having my own bike party with the pink panther before it had to be returned. Only then it dawned on me, they started in Gangnam, so they were probably cycling along the South side of the river. However, I hired my bike from Oksu which is on the North side of the river. So we both had been at the Han-nam bridge, just on opposite sides! 

This is what I was looking for, and what Bike party looked like on the South side of the river. 
Father Dougal, had a good time! In a way, so did I. I think I might buy a bike after my trip to Jeju. Now, what kind of bike should I get?

When I returned the pink panther, I discovered I'd managed to use one of the free rental locations. Bonus! This was why I'd had to leave my ARC card with them (as a deposit).