This Saturday morning ride, organised by one of the local Thai groups seems to be becoming a regular feature of the Chiang Mai road cycling scene, though, as you will see, its not for everyone!
First the details:
The ride starts from a 7/11 on Canal Road, south of the old city. Woah! I hear you cry, is there a worse marker point in Thailand than a 7/11?? As a result of this, this particular ride has led to a little confusion and doubt from some first-time riders about exactly where the start point is. Well, fear not fellow cyclists, because what the organisers fail to point out is that this 7/11 is next to a much easier-to-find way-mark, and that is ‘pet mart’ which is clearly marked on Google Maps.
But if you really want to make it hard for yourself, the official instructions are: the 7/11 on the left on Canal Road just before the Royal Flora.
[Alternatively, I’ve added the location to the map of Chiang Mai Road Rider meeting points – ed]
Start time is 7.30am and, though they will wait a short time for late-comers, I wouldn’t turn up more than 5 mins late unless you want to risk missing the train.
Distance is 90kms total, so that’s 45kms to Chomthong where we take a break at the Esso station just outside town before riding the same route back to town.
I’ve been on this ride a few times now and really love it. I very much appreciate being invited by the locals and getting to ride with them, but what I really like is that this ride pushes me to limits that I could never achieve alone. Yes, this ride is what is traditionally called ‘hardcore’!
The start may seem fairly innocuous and easy-going, as the group rolls out at a fairly sedate pace… well, if you call 35-40kph sedate that is.
But at some point, and you never know quite when, some crazed fool (Mr T voice) will kick things off by either taking a very fast turn on the front, or just by all-out attacking. And the chances are, others will soon join in.
Thus follows a period of crazed racing and attacking, getting dropped and fighting (perhaps in vain) to get back onto a group that can be going anywhere north of 50kph! Add in to the mix the rolling terrain as we near the turnaround point and you have the recipe for a lung-bursting and leg-sapping ride.
But, hey, its not compulsory to stay with the big guns at the front and, without doubt, the ride will splinter into smaller groups only to meet up again at the meet point where friendly relations can be reestablished and rivalries forgotten… well, until it all kicks off again on the way back that is.
So, if you like the idea of riding in a pace-line / chain-gang type group and seeing if you can fight it out with some really fast and explosive riders then come along… you’ll soon discover where you stand 🙂
I also have to say that the locals have been super friendly and accommodating so far… even when 4 of us foreign riders made a crazed attack a couple of weeks back and managed to stay away from the main peloton.
No doubt they are planning, as we speak, to get their revenge!
A big thank you to fellow Chiang Mai Road Rider Kieran Barry for contributing this post to my blog.