Living Jackson

Benefits of cycling

[ENG] 9000km 자전거여행 Bike riding across the U.S.


Hello, I’m Sangnam Ha, studying aerospace at GNU and graduating this month. [I heard you went on a spacial bike trip. Can you tell us more about it?] I started riding from San Francisco with one of my friends. Our goal was to get New York within 3 months. It took exactly 83 days and about 8700 km. Roughly speaking, we rode 100km per day to New York. [Did anyone stop you from the adventure?]
My parents.. Especially mom didn’t want me to do that. But, the only thing she could do was to call me so.. I didn’t listen to her. I just started cuz I really wanted to. [Then, who supported you?]
No one. Literally no one supported me. Even local people said ‘it’s too dangerous.’ ‘Don’t do that. You might die.’ Everyone said I was crazy, so I wanted it more. [You brought a special guest?!]
When I began my trip from San Francisco, a friend of mine helped me. This is the friend. Hello. (Uiho Choi) [How did you think when you heard Sangnam’s plan?]
I thought he was.. crazy. Then, I thought he was doing something great. I was proud of him as a friend. [Did you know he could make it?] Yes, I did. I knew it cuz he always does what he decides to do. [Have you seen others doing the similar challenge?] I haven’t personally seen people who across the U.S. He was the first one I’ve seen in person. However, I think when people come to the U.S., they do something they’ve never done before. [What was the process of getting prepared for the trip?] First of all, it took 2 months to prepare. I spent a month searching online and asking people which bike to buy. And then during another month, I trained myself, riding 100km a day by bike. Also, since I needed to know how to fix a bike, I helped a minister who owns a free bike rental place nearby to fix bikes for a month. So, I could learn. [How much did it cost?] At the begining, I spent $ 700 buying a bike and $260 for a flight ticket to San Francisco. I estimated I would spend $ 30 a day. But, since I started riding, I more often had flat tires than I expected. So, I nearly run out of money after a month. However, fortunately a Korean American firm sponsored us with $ 2000. [Where did you usually sleep?] Sometimes I just asked people if I could set up my tent in their yard, but most of time, I found a place online. There is a website called Warmshowers working like Couchsurfing, but Warmshowers is only for bike riders. I often contacted people and found a place to sleep through that website. [What was the biggest problem you faced along the way?] The biggest problem was my butt was severely hurting. I kept riding and even it bled. That was the toughest thing. And I and my friend argued a lot along the way. You know, it happens.. even tho we had been great to each other before the trip. I was like ‘why did I choose him?’ [What did you argue about?] Since we rode different bikes and had different physical ability, it was hard to keep pace with each other. Also, I wanted to get somewhere and then find a place to stay, but he wanted to know where we would stay before getting there and book a place. I did not want to spend money, so we had some troubles. However, we made it together and I got to realize that he was the only one I could ask for this great experience. We are good now. [Which part of the U.S. was the hardest to ride?]
It was like desert.. Really.. There was.. I counldn’t call, and there was no water. I couldn’t find a house until I went 100-200km further. If one of us collapses, we wouldn’t be able to ask for help. It was dangerous. When riding there, my mouth was getting too dry and it was so dry that my nose was bleeding. One time, riding uphill, my heart started pounding and suddenly I couldn’t see. I thought I was going to die. After about one munite, I could see things again and thought desert could kill me. [When was the hardest day?] I think the hardest day was also the greatest day. When I got to Grand Canyon for the first time, even tho getting there was really hard, it was totally worth it. I was like ‘what an amazing world.’ I wrote my feelings here after seeing Grand Canyon. Riding across this huge world, I couldn’t help sheddig tears, thinking of my parents. I felt guilty that I took this opportunity which they couldn’t have. Would it be possible to keep the promise that I’d come again with them? A thousand emotions went through me. I guess I was in tears. [Were there dangerous moments?] When we was inside the tent, a group of people driving a motorcycle pushed our tent with their motorcycle and kept saying “Where are you from!” The sound of Harley-Davidson was threatening, and it was pretty scary. I had a terrible imagination like ‘What if they draw out a gun?’ Since they rode on the highway where many giant trucks are driven, whenever those trucks passed us by, we staggered like this. Those kind of things were dangerous. I wanted to read you my diary, but since my feelings were well expressed, there are lots of curses. [Did you happen to see wild animals?] There were ‘cow-sized’ deer. Buffaloes which weigh about 1000kg each were walking just next to me.
They are wild animals. They are wild animals. It’s a wildlife reserve, so people can’t do anything. It doesn’t matter if you are in a car, but for people riding a bike like me, if they turn on… [The message of the trip was to raise awareness of the East Sea. Why?] We were trying to think of some issues between Korean and other countries to raise awareness of Korea. Among issues like ‘Comfort women,’ the East Sea and Dokdo Island… We decided to promote the name of the East Sea. [To achieve the goal, what did you do?] We made a banner of this size with historical explanation and the map. We showed it to people, explaining why the East Sea belongs to Korea and where is the boundary. [How did people react?] Some people thanked us for letting them know the fact. A few didn’t want to get involved in political issues. Some were uninterested, but most of them thanked us for the information, which encouraged us to be more positive. We hadn’t met a Japanese along the way. If I have a chance, I will do the campaign in Japan. [How did you feel when you finally arrived at the destination, New York?] It had been tough everyday, but when I realized that I got nowhere to go the next day, it wasn’t so pleasant. Before I got there, everyday I’d had a goal to pursue. Then, suddenly I didn’t have a place to go. It’s the same feeling I have now, looking for a job. [How did this trip influence your life?] It helped me to build pride. It made me feel special. It helped me to live with self-confidence. I feel confident with people. That’s the best influence. [What would you say to people who hesitate to challenge?]
If you challenge, you will face lots of failure. However, you will learn a lot through the process. It’s like unexpected learning. I want you to challenge yourself.

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