Chapter 20. Looking Around (1)

“There they are! So, what do you think?” Kang Yu-Hwan asked in an excited voice as he pointed at a pair of objects leaning against a wall.

“What are these? Bicycles?” But Kang Eun-Yeong replied with a disappointed pout on her face.

"Indeed, they are bicycles, my dear daughter!"

“Aaand here I was, wondering why you wanted us to come outside so early in the morning...”

Kang Yu-Hwan was excitedly pointing at the two new bicycles. They weren't some expensive racing bikes or MTBs, but the commonly-available Korean-style cheap mommy bicycles. Still, they were brand-new, so their shininess under the morning sun was rather excellent.

“Now that I've switched my workplace to somewhere close by, I figured there's no need to waste fuel and drive there. So, the solution is to commute on a bicycle and get some exercise to boot,” Kang Yu-Hwan proudly declared.

Unfortunately, Kang Jin-Ho's mother, Baek Hyeon-Jeong, seemed to share her daughter's sentiment, not her husband's. “Oh, so you care about conserving fuel but don't care about your wife needing to do more laundry? Don't you know how much extra laundry I'll have to deal with when you commute in your racing overalls every day?"

“How much extra could it be?! Besides, it's not like you're doing the laundry, dear. The washing machine does that.”

Oh? Then, why don't you do the laundry from now on?”

"Ahaha... Of course, I know how hard you work for our family, dear." Kang Yu-Hwan hurriedly lowered his tail at his wife's counterattack. Kang Eun-Yeong watching on couldn't hold back her laughter. The head of the Kang family sheepishly cleared his throat and addressed his loved ones, "In any case, I'll be commuting using a bicycle from today."

Kang Yu-Hwan had made himself proud by finding a new job in three days, and while riding on that momentum, he had even declared his intention to ride a bicycle, of all things, to commute every day. The employment landscape was supposed to be tough going these days, but it must have been a cakewalk for him.

When he was asked if he wanted to go back to his old company, Kang Yu-Hwan flatly refused, saying that he did not want to spend his life in an establishment that had betrayed his faith.

Baek Hyeon-Jeong tilted her head. “By the way, why are there two bicycles, dear?”

“One's mine, the other one's for Jin-Ho.”

“Excuse me?”

"When you think about it, his school is in that weird zone, right? A bit too far to walk all the way, but too close to drive there, either. In that case, nothing beats a bicycle, don't you agree?"

Baek Hyeon-Jeong immediately cried out in alarm, "What are you even talking about?! Don't you know how dangerous it is to ride a bicycle?! Our son has just gotten into a car accident, so what nonsense are you even on about?! How can you be this thoughtless, dear?!"

Kang Yu-Hwan looked deeply wounded by her reply. "But... You weren't even worried about me riding it?"

“How can our son be the same as you?!”

“Wha—? What's so different about us, then?!”

Kang Jin-Ho left his wounded father and let him continue his argument with his wife. Kang Jin-Ho turned his attention to the bicycle. 

'Riding a bicycle, huh...'

In a way, you could call a bicycle one of modern civilization's wonderful inventions. Some people might scoff at the idea of riding one but back in Zhongyuan, people only had the choice of walking, riding a horse, or a carriage. In that sense, being able to move a bit faster and more conveniently using one's own strength was a revolutionary breakthrough.

The people of the modern era didn't know how to appreciate something like that. No, wait—it would be more correct to say that they saw cycling as something mundane since other modern conveniences could be found everywhere in their lives.

Mmm...” Kang Jin-Ho grunted and climbed up on the bicycle with his schoolbag. He cautiously began pedaling forward.

Wobble...

“...?”

Wobble...

“...!”

Thud.

"...Mm." Kang Jin-Ho placed his foot on the ground just in time to stop himself from crashing to the ground. His brows furrowed deeply.

Kang Eun-Yeong, ever the clueless airhead she was, said something she shouldn't have. “Oppa, you don't know how to ride a bicycle?”

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly turned his head and stared at her. Even though his glare left Choi Yeong-Su as a sobering wreck, she only had an exceedingly simple evaluation of her brother. “I didn't know you were an idiot, Oppa.”

Kang Jin-Ho groaned and powerlessly turned his head away. Of course, not knowing how to ride a bicycle even at his age was definitely not something to be ashamed of. Why would it be considered embarrassing when so many people around the globe couldn't do it, either? But…

How could he explain this sudden bizarre competitive streak blazing fiercely in his heart?!

"Son, you... It seems that you don't know how to ride a bicycle yet," Kang Yu-Hwan muttered in a pitying voice.

“...”

"But it's fine, son. You can always learn, after all. It's not as hard as you think. Just focus on keeping your body straight while riding, and that's the ticket to make things simpler."

“Yes, Father.” Kang Jin-Ho felt renewed energy surging within after getting his father's encouragement. He tried to keep his torso straight up and began pedaling again. Perhaps thanks to his father's advice, the bicycle smoothly scooted forward without wobbling.

“That's it, son! Keep the handles straight!”

Kang Jin-Ho pushed the pedal down a few more times and managed to stay upright without wobbling about.

Kang Yu-Hwan excitedly cried out, "Yes, you're doing great! And when you get to a corner, you...!"

Crash!

...Huh?” Kang Yu-Hwan stared at the cloud of dust rising up from a distant corner and quietly muttered, “Maybe I should've warned him a bit sooner?”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong nodded. “Yes, you should have, dear.”

Meanwhile, Kang Eun-Yeong shrugged her shoulders and sighed grandly. “You can't save an idiot, though.”

***

At the end of several trial-and-errors, the new bicycle had become a bit too 'used' to get a refund. Still, Kang Jin-Ho had finally gotten used to riding it, and now, he was moving breezily forward while scything through the air. He had to admit that riding a bicycle felt very strange initially, but that didn't hinder him from getting better at it.

Some trouble occurred during the trial-and-error process that would have sent most normal people to the hospital, but Kang Jin-Ho's finely-honed motor reflexes and athleticism protected his body from rather-scary accidents.

His hair whipped madly against the wind as the blurry scenery flew past him.

'This isn't so bad…'

Although this was as slow as crawling compared to Qinggong[1], riding a bicycle proved to be unexpectedly fun. There was this quaint charm to it as if he was out on a leisurely stroll. 

Kang Jin-Ho hummed softly as he headed to his high school. Up to here, no one would see any major problems with the current situation. On the outside, he was just riding a new bicycle to get to his school, after all. But the hidden issue, a very minor one at that, was the reformation of his dantian not too long ago—and as a result, his physical body had now vastly transcended the limits of a normal human being.

Fwhoooooosh!!!

His bicycle dashed forward at a speed that couldn't have come from a normal bicycle. Kang Jin-Ho entered the main road and began matching the speed of cars. The bicycle underneath him was creaking and groaning urgently to express its suffering at Kang Jin-Ho's powerful pedaling, but he remained utterly oblivious to it and simply continued at his own pace.

Fwhoooooosh!!!

“Oppa?”

Mm? What?”

“Can't you go faster?”

“What do you mean? We're running fast enough as is.”

“But you're as slow as a bicycle next to you, though?”

"Eh?" A well-dressed man driving the latest sports car freaked out and glanced at his speedometer. "But we're running at 70 km/h right now!"

His passenger, a pretty-looking girl, asked him while tilting her head, “Is that fast?”

"Not even Lance Armstrong could pedal that fast! And that's while juiced up, you know! We ain't even on a velodrome, so how can anyone reach 70 on a public road?!"

“But look! There he is, on his bicycle. Uh? He's actually ahead of us?”

"Wha?!" The driver craned his neck and finally spotted a boy riding a bicycle. His jaw slowly fell as his eyes bulged out. "W-what the hell is that?!"

Could this be a dream? Or maybe, his knowledge of bicycles was faulty, to begin with?

The girl tilted her head again. “Oppa, can bicycles actually go that fast?”

Hah, haha... Hahaha...” The man chuckled in dismay before settling on the most logical answer he could think of. “I see. It must be a professional rider testing out a prototype bike or something.”

“Really? Didn't you say Lance Armstrong or whoever can't go that fast?”

"Yeah, when riding on a normal bicycle. But it's possible on an electric bike. You see, an electric motor can help you reach that sort of speed."

“Really?” The girl nodded as if she understood it, only for her to cock her head in confusion. “By the way, Oppa? That bicycle rider... I think he's wearing a school uniform?”

“Nope, you are mistaken. Probably...”

“You think so?”

Kang Jin-Ho, still utterly oblivious to the people on the road staring dumbfoundedly at him, hummed to himself as he headed to his school. And less than five minutes later, he safely arrived in front of his destination.

Huh? Did I arrive a little too fast?”

He wouldn't have minded riding around for a little bit longer. But he was already at school, so going around the block one more time just for fun seemed like an immature idea at best. He wordlessly secured the bicycle in the bicycle racks, then headed upstairs to his classroom. It had only been a week, but the corridors had become a little unfamiliar to him for some reason.

“...Unfamiliar, is it?” Kang Jin-Ho muttered softly, a faint grin floating up on his lips.

What an obvious statement that was. It had been only a few days since he began attending school once again before he got hit with a week-long suspension. Kang Jin-Ho had only been in school for precisely three days—that was about it. Still, the fact that he thought of such a thing proved that he had gotten much more familiar with the modern era.

He stepped inside the class, only to be greeted by the surprised shouts of some of his fellow classmates. Jeong In-Gyu, the chatterbox, was obviously one of them. "Kang Jin-Ho! Wow, you can come to school from today?"

“Yeah.”

“Dude, I thought I'd die of boredom without you around!”

While the two of them chatted away, Lee Tae-Ho also sneakily made his way over and lightly patted Kang Jin-Ho's shoulder. "Hey. Did you get some practice on Galaxy, Mister Public Room Noob?"

Kang Jin-Ho coolly replied, "The moment you move your mouse, you lose."

"Hah, that doesn't sound like empty talk when it's coming from Kang Jin-Ho now, does it?!"

One by one, other kids came up to Kang Jin-Ho and tried to chat with him. Was it because they missed him for the past week? No, that couldn't be it. They probably wanted to get over their guilty conscience for not coming to his aid even though they knew that his suspension was unfair.

Of course, Kang Jin-Ho wasn't going to criticize them for it. Emotions of betrayal and the desire to blame them for it stemmed from one's trust in others. He didn't have much faith in people, to begin with, and that was how he avoided feeling bitterly disappointed by his classmates. Kang Jin-Ho didn't have one iota of expectation from them, anyway. None of them meant much to him, after all.

Choi Yeong-Su was still absent from school, while his goons sneaked outside as soon as Kang Jin-Ho entered, turning the classroom's atmosphere rather warm and friendly.

Except for one student…

Creaaak...

That student quietly pushed his creaky chair back to get up before leaving the class altogether. His steps were strange, slightly askew. It was Park Yu-Min. When he saw Kang Jin-Ho's return, he lowered his head and chose to disappear from everyone's sight.

Kang Jin-Ho glanced at the lonely back of the boy, then switched his attention off. He had no reason to care, after all.

The classroom door opened, and the homeroom teacher, Kim Seong-Ju, stepped inside. His first order of business was to look for Kang Jin-Ho. “Jin-Ho, are you here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Alright. You're back to school, then.”

"But, sir. The class hasn't started yet."

"I know that, you dumba*s! I was just making sure you were back."

Everyone burst into laughter at the teacher's reply.

Kang Jin-Ho chuckled and settled down on his desk.

'How peaceful...'

A minor problem tried to derail his ordinary life, but he dealt with it so cleanly and efficiently that there didn't seem to be any loose ends left. He grinned after realizing how wonderful this peace felt, then glanced at his textbook... only to lose all happiness from his expression.

Now that he thought about it... Maybe he should have studied during his free time?

Now wasn't the time to leisurely muse about peace or whatever. Kang Jin-Ho had to be the only person in the world trying to attend high school with elementary school-level knowledge in his head.

'Right, I still gotta study.'

Now that he decided to rely on inner energy, Kang Jin-Ho was quietly confident about making a pretty comfortable living without getting good grades. Truth be told, it didn't matter what he decided to do in the future as his physical body was beyond the realm of an average person in the modern era.

However, he still had to study. First of all, he couldn't bear to see his parents throwing a fit after receiving his report card. Second, living for a long time helped him achieve an epiphany of sorts—there was no need to be more excellent than others, but it was necessary to put in as much work as everybody else.

This was crucial if he wanted to mingle and co-exist with other people. Kang Jin-Ho was well aware that neglecting academics and relying solely on athleticism would result in a 'birds of a feather, flock together' kind of situation later down the line.

Unfortunately, he just couldn't understand a single word uttered by the teachers during the classes. As such, Kang Jin-Ho focused his efforts on reading the first few pages of the textbooks to shore up his lacking knowledge base.

And also... Until lunch that day, Park Yu-Min did his best to avoid meeting Kang Jin-Ho's glance.


1. Qinggong, or Lightness Skill, is a martial art technique to move around incredibly fast. Some peak experts in web novels can apparently fly around with this technique.

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