Just stop­ping by

En route to Mi­ami, South Korean bike duo makes pit stop in Charlestown

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ches­pub.com

— 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

CHARLESTOWN

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHO­TOS BY JOE ANTOSHAK

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.

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