Happy 2014 everyone! I hope this year brings much excitement especially for your bicycle adventures. I shall be leading a team of 8 folks through the mountain ranges of Northern Thailand near the Burmese border in a few days time. Touring with my usual suspects is always a joy and we have Dr Mike, Uncle KC, Celia and Pete Roscoe from Western Australia. We have the pleasure of Jan Roscoe, Ian and Anne Howard, all from beautiful Perth too.
I have driven through this region in 2008 and the number of climbs/descents and hairpins make this a most challenging ride for bicycles. Hence, it has to be done and I took inspiration from my buddy Mike Khor of Wheelosopher fame who did this trip some years back.
I'm very grateful to Amy who we met in our Northern Thailand Winter Ride in 2012. She has helped me make critical bookings for most of our hotels. As this is super peak period, just showing up can very well mean sleeping on the streets or the bus stop. The reason for riding now is that the weather is just about perfect this time of the year - days of high 20sc and cool nights of low 10s, sometimes dropping to 7-8c.
Choosing the right bicycle is very essential here and because of the steep climbs, a granny gear is compulsory. Celia will be riding the Bike Friday Pocket Sport, along with The Howards (New World Tourists) and Uncle KC (Llama) while I will be representing the Dahon camp with my trusty 2007 Speed Pro shod with skinny Durano tires (the roads are very good here). The Roscoes will be on their Tern P24 Tourers and Dr Mike on his Dahon Speed TR.
We have also packed very light and I'm proud of say Celia has gotten her total weight to under 6kgs for 2 Orb panniers. I'm hoping to do mine under 5kgs with tools.
We will all be arriving in Chiang Mai at various time but flying together the next day to Mae Hong Son on Nok Air's twin propellor SAAB plane. The plan is to start from MHS, Soppong, Pai, Mae Malai. Then we head north-east to Chiang Dao and end at the beautiful Apple Resort, Thaton. It will be exciting to be hopping on the super fast long tail boat down to Chiang Rai and back to Chiang Mai via chartered minivan.
I'm feeling a bit anxious as this ride would probably be the most demanding in terms of long climbs for me. Some stages will see us going 20km continuously up and hitting above 2000m. I take comfort that I have done similar climbs from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in Laos but remembering how our car struggled up those hills makes me shudder a bit.
Thus the name of the adventure - The Ride of a 1000 Hills. Stay tune for live reporting (where possible) and join us here at Lovethefold.
*Grateful thanks to Chris Wee, Thailand guru for sharing his wisdom and insights...