Just stopping by
En route to Miami, South Korean bike duo makes pit stop in Charlestown
— Coincidence led two South Korean men and their bikes to this town’s doorstep Thursday afternoon, and they received a warm welcome.
Taehwan Kim, 25, and Taehyeon Kim, 21, are right now on the journey of a lifetime, using only their all-terrain bicycles to get from Boston to Miami. Every day they try to cover around 30 miles on whatever roads they can take their bikes on, then look for somewhere to set up camp.
Around 3 p.m. Thursday, they stopped in Charlestown for that reason. Taehyeon’s left knee had swollen and needed rest, so they decided to call it a day.
First, they tried the fire station. When they found no one
there, they went to town hall and knocked on the door.
“They wanted a place to pitch a tent,” said Debbie Myers, town clerk. “You can’t do that in Charlestown.”
So when 5 p.m. rolled around and her work day ended, Myers decided to take them for hamburgers and then to stay the night at her house. They stored their bikes and some gear in town hall overnight.
On Friday, they would come back with Myers, hoist their gear onto a Charlestown maintenance pickup truck, which would then drive them across the Susquehanna River, into Harford County.
The men spoke only fractured English, and several times consulted a translation app on a phone to help explain, but they seemed cheerful and amused by the idea of a newspaper article. When asked why they decided to take on such a daunting quest in unknown territory, Taehyeon said: “challenge, fun, traveling.”
The two met each other about eight months ago while working as interns at a Korean company. It was Taehyeon who pitched the idea to Taehwan. It was Taehwan who said yes, despite never having ridden a bike.
The pair flew to Boston in midNovember and bought their bikes there. Needless to say, Taehwan had to learn quickly, and his body had to adjust to the strain.
In the weeks since they’ve seen all sorts of people and places, faced all kinds of discouraging hills and difficult weather. But they carry on, keeping their hopes focused on the prospect of flatter land after Washington. Miami is about 1,500 miles from Boston, and when they stopped in Charlestown last week, the two had traveled about 360 miles — a considerable distance, but not much more than a shade over one-fifth of the way.
When eventually they do get to Miami (they have an ETA of Jan. 21, Taehyeon said), they plan to fly to Los Angeles, where they’ll ideally connect with a friend who lives there.
“We are celebrating in L.A.,” Taehwan said, laughing. “Then back to Korea.”
And what will they do with the bikes when they reach Miami? After all, they can’t take them on the plane.
“Our plan is … “Taehwan began, before trailing off. “Ebay,” Taehyeon said. And everyone in town hall at the time — American and South Korean — shared a laugh together.
Taehwan Kim and Taehyeon Kim, both from South Korea, stopped in Charlestown on Thursday afternoon. They’re biking from Boston to Miami.
The Huffy all-terrain bikes the men are riding down this side of the country.
A strained left knee for Tahyeon Kim forced the pair to stop at Charlestown. Town clerk Debbie Myers offered to take them in for the night.