Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MHS Day 2 - Samoeng to Pa Pee. 62km

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Pic - Sinn Tail

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Grinning even after a fall - Lance is tops! Note bandaged right hand. 

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Master Wayne Chen - possibly the youngest rider to complete the MHS Loop at 16
on his father's Santa Cruz Superlite MTB.

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We woke up to a very misty and cold morning at PPVD and our hopes to catch the sunrise were dashed. But it was magical and we felt like angels in heaven as we made our way to the higher grounds where our complimentary breakfast was to be served.

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Khun Mon's husband works in the Forestry Department and did all the planning of the resort's grounds including carefully choosing each special plant, shrub and tree. His experience and skill were demonstrated clearly. Mon explained how some of the beautiful and tall original trees were left alone and the estate including a lovely stream were planned around them.

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The breakfast was a simple affair of toast and rice porridge with fruit, and that was served in the garden pagoda. This was perfect for the cold-ish morning.

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We shall always remember their warm hospitality and Khun Mon made sure of this by giving all of us beautiful key ring souvenirs of PPVD. With that, we said farewell to her and hubby and began our suffer-fest once more.

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If yesterday's climb was tough, we were warned that today's ride was even worse and I started the day with fear and trepidation. Coming out of the resort, it was nice to make our way back 4km and see the village waking up.

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The fun lasted until we hit the dreaded Hway 5021 and the climbs began. Unlike yesterday, these climbs seem to keep continuing on and on and on. Whatever recovery we made soon dissipated as our legs started to groan and ache. Sweat poured our profusely and I remembered Nu's warning that if you think the first day's climb was tough, the 2nd day's made it look easy.

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The only person who seem to be enjoying these climbs was Lance but then again, he just won the Perth King of the Mountain title in his bicycle race. For the rest of us, we pedaled as much as we could and ended up pushing for quite a stretch. I thought my Marin's 24" climbing gear was enough but clearly, it was not. Cynthia's 16.5" Surly Troll did better and as strong a rider she was, she too had to push up some bits.

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Mothership went ahead to recce the climbs and came back and YC advised me to seek Chevy's "hill assistance" - an offer that I was very grateful for. As we caught up with the rest, it was obvious that everyone was in pain except Lance, who was nowhere to be seen.

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We took a much needed rest on top of the peak and drank buckets. My thoughts straightaway went to upgrading my touring bike to have the much needed climbing gear and the prize of the Surly Disc Trucker motivated me to press on. Hway 5021 extracts respect from any cyclist and for sure, this was the worse climb I have ever attempted, surpassing Wulin in Taiwan.

Fortunately, what goes up must come down and we were so glad to be flying down at 40-50kmh instead of 4-5kmh until we arrived at the designated lunch spot some 5km away. The first 20km took us practically the whole morning! It was so disappointing to find out that this stop was nothing more than a provision shop with a fridge although Google Maps showed an eatery.

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I was hoping for some hot cooked food but had to settle for cup noodles. However, that was better than nothing. As there was no good reason really to keep us here, we moved out once more and more climbs awaited but they were tame compared to the ones earlier. It was actually very pretty here as we looked down to beautiful valleys of rice fields.

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This road was obviously not a well traveled one nor a priority as some parts were really bad, filled with rocks and sand. However I had Schwalbe Marathon Plus touring tires which came to its element.

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Lance unfortunately did not do so well on his Giant road bike which had hi-pressure skinny slicks which was amazing on good roads but less so on these bad roads. It was here that he had a crash coming down the hill and became our 2nd victim on the 2nd day!  For some reason, he did not wear gloves and had a pretty bad abrasion on his right palm and I felt so much for him. Good thing that was all and given the speed he was doing, this was indeed a huge blessing.  If Lesson no 1 is to prepare our bikes, lesson no 2 is always safety gear, esp gloves! But I admired Lance for he took it all in good stride and was unfussed about it.

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The Mothership soon appeared and stopped at a safe place on top of the hill. At this stage, it was decided to take Lance to Samoeng Hospital for another visit to say hi once again to the pretty nurses. Better safe than sorry even though it was 20+km away and this being the nearest hospital. 

The rest of us, Cynthia, KC, Wayne and I carried on and was to meet up at a temple some 10km ahead. The road seemed even quieter and narrower and at one stage, we wondered if we were on the right track as they looked more like farm tracks. But the GPS don't lie and we pressed on in faith.

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We were so happy to finally arrived at the Wat Mae Phae and we took the opportunity to get some rest. Making ourselves comfortable, we had time for a little bit of a lie down while KC as usual, had extra energy to clown around and took interesting photos.

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Meanwhile, Mothership was taking longer than usual as they had to get lunch after the hospital visit which incidentally costs Lance a paltry160B for treatment and dressing! I also learned that YC decided to try a faster and better road to get back to us but got a bit lost... Hence, we decided to press on as time was passing quickly and it is never a good idea to ride in the dark.

We cycle on leisurely until we hit a gold mine along this very quiet "highway" and made us so delighted! This was a small eatery opened and actually selling hot food. We pin dropped our location and hung out there comfortably while waiting for Mothership to arrive.

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Typical of Thai hospitality, we were warmly greeted and enjoyed playing with the kids while enjoying cold drinks with the fans at full blast.

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Lunch soon appeared in the form of Chicken Rice which was devoured by us. At this stage, it was YC's turn to cycle so I volunteered to drive the Mothership. KC too had enough and it was 17km more to the main highway of 1095. As it turned out, the route was perfect for YC who is a MTB enthusiast - hills, climbs, descends on broken roads. He was riding my Marin 4 Corners for the first time and he had the right weapon. Meanwhile the Mothership groaned and creaked through these torturous roads.

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The plan was to check in, drop everyone at The Road View Resort (24km away) and then return to pick up the gang wherever they are, as the sun was on its last legs. While driving through these bad roads, KC and I were glad at our decision as we were pretty spent.  George and Wendy were drop-pinning drink stops etc as we drove along to the cycling team so that they would know where they could have cold drinks. It seemed forever driving on this stretch as we were crawling at 30-40km/h and when we finally hit 1095, it was so good to drive on runway smooth road at 70km/h.

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The Road View Resort had 4 bungalows and we booked them all. It was a struggle to get these rooms as they are quickly booked out and I actually confirm them 8 months early! They were expecting us and we unloaded Wendy, KC, Mark and Loh plus luggage. Our chalets were spacious and very comfortable and I reckon this is probably the best place to stay in Pa Pee.

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Pic Sinn Tail

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George and I went back to get the team and were surprised that they were much faster than we thought for just about 3 km off 1095 turnoff, Lance and Wayne popped out, followed by Cynthia and YC as sweeper. We loaded their dust caked bikes unto MS and made our way merrily to our resort.

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It had been a long day and it was nice of the Road View Staff to close the kitchen much later so that we could enjoy dinner there. This area of Pa Pee is rather sparse with a few restaurants spaced out over several km. We were all quite tired and happy to eat in the resort and it turned out to be a pretty good meal.

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Sleep came easily and we rested knowing that from now onwards, it was to be on good roads at least for a few days. Furthermore, our next destination Pai is a great place where we will be spending 2 nights for R & R. We felt very happy to reach here and I was grateful for all the kindness, considerate and thoughtful actions of our team. Thank God for Day 2 and thank God Lance wasn't injured too badly.

ps - it was good to know that the Road View Resort met the exacting standards of KC!

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Pics KC and Al.

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