A Different Kind of Ride ...

Clearly dirt is my preferred surface and I enjoy beginning and ending my ride in the comfortable surrounds of my home.  Yet I thought it time for a different kind of ride, a oneway trip you might call it.  So, I pumped up the Trek tires a bit more than I would in the mountains, to 55 psi, locked out the front suspension, loaded the bike into the Fortuner and hitched a ride to town with my wife as she was going that way, anyway.

Just before reaching town there is a conveniently located ESSO service station where I unloaded the bike and prepared for the 52 kilometer ride home, while my wife continued on the Chiang Rai University, CRU.  Perhaps next time she can drop me off near the annual Chiang Rai Flower Festival, which I believe opens next weekend and is always worth seeing.

I estimated it might be possible to maintain an average pace in the mid-twenties and sure enough the final tally was 24.7 kph.  The ride home took much longer than I expected, however.  A little over halfway home there is a conveniently located roadside shop attended to by the family of a Swedish guy I know.  Not long after filling my water bottle at the shop, a Thai rider showed up coming from the opposite direction.  I was sure I had seen him in town before and remarked upon his distinctive blue wheel hubs and inquired about his riding partners I had noticed on that previous sighting.

“Oh, they will be along shortly,” he said as he put one foot on the road and leaned out looking in the direction he expected them to come from.  He must be quite a bit faster than his friends for they did not make their appearance for another ten minutes or so. 

With well maintained, high-end gear, and weathered appearance it was clear they were regular riders.  I was a little surprised to find the three of them were in their mid to late sixties and ride pretty much everyday, sometimes taking multi-day trips, and having gone as far as 200 km in one day.  On this day they had started near CRU, had ridden to Thoeng and were on their way back home.  That is much further than I am capable of doing, yet, but maybe one day.

The first to arrive remarked he was retired, so what better use of his time than to ride his bike with friends and stay healthy at the same time.  I have to say, I liked his upbeat attitude.  The Swedish gentleman and his wife joined in the conversation and the six of us enjoyed swapping stories, laughing and smiling for much longer than we perhaps should have. 

After the three Thai bikers left we had one other bit of excitement as I pointed out a rather large snake slithering across the road and into a neighbors yard.  The shop owner proceeded to tell tales of snakes they have encountered in their shop as well as various sized scorpions in their bed.  Thankfully scorpions are one creature we don’t seem to have around our house and our snakes remain outdoors, perhaps kept at bay by the dogs.

It was not easy pulling myself away but I needed to get home before my wife, to feed and walk the dogs.  Having stopped for so long I did not feel I had time to indulge in my fried banana fix, and headed directly home with no more stops.  My legs are a little sore today but riding on the road was considerably easier and more predictable than climbing rocky dirt trails so I am sure I can cover even greater distances in the future.  Besides those three older guys were a real inspiration.