Boys and Their Toys ...


The air fresh and clean, the leaves scrubbed and shiny, the mountains adorned with bands of low lying clouds and just a touch of drizzling rain. A beautiful day to stay home and let the eye lazily linger over the alluring vistas. As it were we had committed to a supply run to Chiang Rai, so had to be satisfied with viewing the passing scenery through the truck windows as we headed into town. I find the drive quite pleasant as a rule. Perhaps because we drive so seldom, once a week to town and maybe another trip or two to a local market. Around the village we ride our bicycles or walk.

As luck would have it, the front tire on my mountain bike had developed a slow leak. It nearly slipped my mind, but a flip of the quick release, and the wheel assembly found its way into the back of the truck. Along with the hardware store, bakery and gardening center, we were heading to Big C. Stopping at a small bicycle shop near Big C, seemed the way to go. They were quick to replace the tube but I found myself talking bikes with the mechanic. Pointing out their lack of high-end bikes he assured me that Northern Bikes was the place for the imported stuff. I had previously noted their location on the way to Macro. Conversation over, we continued upon our designated rounds.

With lunch over and shopping complete, we headed to the nursery to buy some pots for the garden. Our route, by chance took us by the bike shop, and the truck seemed to lurch off the road, coming to a stop at the entrance of Northern Bikes. My wife looked at me knowingly and said, “Why not.” What the hell, I’m just a big kid at heart and she knows that. Anyway, this was my kind of place. Not just their products but their story as well. Here was a couple who loved bikes and riding, and were able to turn that love into a business and a lifestyle. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my wife’s “Thai size” frame, but when it come to a bike, I prefer something a little more substantial.

Shortly after starting construction on the house we ventured out and purchased a couple of cheap Thai “starter” bikes for the wife and me. It proved a wise move to test my interest in riding and get an idea what my real needs might be. Over time it became clear that the frame and suspension were causing additional, wear and tear, on this old body. Mounting my ample derrière on the shop’s Trek 4500 with its 24 inch frame and 26 inch wheels, and it was love at first tushy touch. Everything was in perfect alinement and we were destined to become as one with the trails.

I fully expected some resistance from the head of the household but she seemed almost eager. Perhaps she was noticing those few extra pounds that had crept on recently. Confirming that my desire was genuine she bargained for a better discount, on the pricier model with the better suspension. Throw in a few freebies and the deal was done. As we prepared to drive away with my new toy, she smiled and said, “Happy Birthday, dear.”

We are not big on confining events to a particular day so this worked out for both of us. It turned out to be a surprise birthday present for me and for her, as the gift giver. Who would have thought that a flat tire would have lead to this. And, though my birthday isn’t until later this month, I’m sure this memory will stay with me long after the day, as I continue to find new trails to explore, and improve my skills and fitness.