DAY 1 - DOI SUTHEP
|Khun Aoa "What's that in your pants?"
Ahh, our annual pilgrimage to Chiang Mai with the Singapore Five-O. There were 13 of us this year - Chris, Stephen, Ron, Jamie, John, Gerald, Jack, Ernie, Wayne, Robin, Kelvin and Dennis.
As usual, we were greeted by Khun Aoa, Bond and his merry men from Mountain Designs at the airport.
|Thai beef noodles
We headed straight to Doi Suthep for our first down hill ride, but not before stopping at the beef noodle shop opposite Chiang Mai University.
I don't know what it is about travel and Thailand, but my appetite always seemed to be up a couple of notches. So two bowls of tasty mixed beef noodles later, we drove up to the trail head at Doi Pui and quickly assembled our bikes.
After settling down and readjusting the settings along the way, I started enjoying the rest of the ride. We took the van up for the the second run near a Hmong village. This was the classic and my favourite Doi Suthep down hill trail - steep, rocky and super technical. It sure gave me a rush and a sense of accomplishment after hanging on for dear life.
The long and fast ride gave rise to arm pump and brake finger fatigue, compounded by less and less finger leverage as the brake levers moved further away from the hand grips which I presumed was a result of the brake fluid heating and expanding.
|Jamie's manly gash
We ended the day with a nice dinner at our favourite restaurant at the Chiang Mai market place with the fabled Five-O tradition of "creme of sum yung gai", followed by a foot massage.
DAY 2 - DOI ITHANON
The climbs were steep, hot and slow. So slow that flies and mosquitoes buzzed around incessantly for most of the morning, very, very annoying.
|Life's simple pleasures
After a hard morning's ride, I always looked forward to the simple but delicious packed lunch that we lug in our packs. On the menu today was braised chicken and rice.
I had fun chasing "X" who was marking the trail on his motorbike. He was faster on the up hills whilst I caught up on the downs.
|Nice food and company
I got my two hour Thai massage by a rather elderly man. He had a robust style to the extent of being painful but it was so effective in loosening the knots and muscle tension.
DAY 3 - WAT LUANG to THATARN
|Mae Win Resort
As it was a Sunday, the trails were busier than usual with many dirt bikers and 4 x 4s. I almost collided with a dirt biker as he was powering up a steep slope on the same line I was riding down.
|The familiar feeling when the van whizzes by on the climbs
|Scenic views at the trail head
One guy another offered me water, another invited me to his home for coffee. My ride ended at a temple and I washed my bike, freshened up and pottered around. The last of the dehydrated riders arrived 3 hours later.
We arrived back in Chiang Mai after dark and I was starving. So after a quick shower I ended up with two bowls of noodles, fresh fruits and corn on the cob. I was so full that even the foot massage was not enjoyable. Note to self : control your munchies!
DAY 4 - PANG MA KAD to MAE PUNG
|Racing up the slope with Khun Aoa
We ended at our new accommodation for the night at Amdoi Resort, a remote and peaceful place. Again, I finished the day with another painful but therapeutic massage.
DAY 5 - KHUN JAE to HOI YA SAI
|Breakfast at Amdoi Resort
|Lunch in the forest
The total trip distance for me - 300 km and 8,000 m climb.
|Grinding up the endless hills
Pictures courtesy of Jamie Teo and Chris de Souza.