Thursday, December 4, 2008

Downhill Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Scary Clown, ThailandThis Chiang Mai biking vacation of sorts was planned back in march 2008. A couple of other riders (Raymond, Cougar and gang) who have joined a few downhill runs in the mountains of Chiang Mai with a tour operator were to be our tour guide this time around.

Imagine holding our breaths in anticiption of this trip over the months and then almost turning purple when we read about the unstable political situation in Bangkok where the P.A.D protesters stormed and took over the airport.

Lucky for us, we were flying AirAsia, direct from KL to Chiang Mai. We did however hold a little protest of our own at the Kuala Lumpur LCCT airport at the check in counter.
Air Asia ground staff for some reason decided to write their own rules on the day, and refused to check in our bikes as sports equipment and charging us 500 bucks per bike.

read the fine print!The supervisor told us the only sports equipment they recognise were golf stuff...
He even challenged us to prove to him that bikes were categorised as sporting equipment.
Jun then whipped out his laptop, got online and showed the guy the AirAsia page that specifically stated that we bikers are sportsmen too...

We couldn't have asked for more beautiful biking weather in Chiang Mai.
The temperature was at a comfortable 22+ degrees celcius and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
The mountains to the west of Chiang Mai beckoned us and as soon as we got settled in, we headed there the very next day.

The trailhead at the Doi Suthep national park start at 1600 meters elevation.

We did cycle past a quaint Hill Tribe village. There were snotty little kids lined up along the dusty village road to check us out. Jun the the cliche cycle tourist thing where he waved and greeted "Sawadeekap" at the children. Maybe it was his accent but what he got in return from the little children were middle fingers and hip thrusts...

rocks rock!

An average downhill run goes on for about 10km.
The trails were super fast, flowy but very technical.

your mtb belongs in the mountains!

There were a mixture of rooty and steep sections, flowy single track, some fast fireroads and damn gnarly rocky sections with loose rocks that outrun you on the way down. There was no time to get distracted and one had to focus on the trail all the way down.
We had 4 full days to do this over and over again!

Everyone brought along spare brake pads but as the trails got faster we were not braking as much.. Flat tyres were the order of the day because of the rocky sections.
My Banshee Rune was running on fat 2.5 Maxxis Minnion tyres and it seemed to flow down the mountain without a fuss.

Cofee break

We ate like kings after the ride at the Chilli Bell.. and after calling for more taxis we were on our way up the mountain again for another run.
The second run finished in the middle of nowhere.. We were out of the trail at sunset and had to bike 20km back to our hotels.. RESPECT to the guys who biked all that distance on your DH bikes with lowered saddles..

A big shout out goes to Raymond who showed us the trails (all from memory! No GPS needed!) and the rest of the gang: Cougar, Keng, Jun, Robby, Vinodh, Siew Kai, Siew Keng, Louis, Wei Perng and Jimmy!
Hope to see you guys again next year!