Showing posts with label Trails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trails. Show all posts

A Tale of Two Rides ...

It was a bright sunny Monday afternoon, when I set out to check on the conditions of my go-to short trail of about 21 km.  It is a good mix of road, dirt, flats and hills but was a muddy mess the last time I rode it.  As you can see in the pictures below the red clay had dried out and the deep ruts had been filled in with rubble.  That made the ride a bit rough in places but no problem I thought.

Midway through the ride my front wheel started making some rather ominous noises.  I stopped a couple of times to see if it were something external but it soon became obvious the bearings in the front wheel set were the problem.  I managed to limp home on my noisy bike but it was clear a trip to Northern Bike, in town, was urgently needed before I would be riding again.

There can be not better excuse for upgrading your wheel set than blown out bearings, so I added to my recent list of pricy upgrades.  I have now spent more on upgrades than the bike cost to begin with.  While the bike was in the shop we met with friends at Central Plaza for lunch, coffee and a little shopping. 

While the wives visited my friend caught me up on the wild stories and malicious gossip spreading about me at group events in town.  Unable to point to their own accomplishments some individuals find it easier to make emotionally charged and disparaging remarks about others.  As stories are told and retold they take on a life of their own, with no resemblance to the truth, having the same effect as the tabloids, influencing the weak minded to become true believers.  People who don’t know me now spin the most lurid of tales as if they were my most trusted confidants.  Guess that is the price one pays in the karmic balance of things.

Eager to tryout my new wheels, Wednesday I hit the trail again on what ended up being a 45 km route.  The high mountain reservoir which has been a mere puddle on my last two visits was once again at its full glory and beautiful to behold.  This time I only had to dismount once on the 2 km uphill slog which is by far the best I have done.  Subjective or real, I felt like the bike was performing much better, but I still had to cope with the hottest conditions I have ridden in for some time.

There was some serious green on the ride yesterday, as you can see form some of the photos.  Finding myself out of the mountains and back on the flats, surrounded by rice fields, I came upon a bit of an accident with a truck on its side in a ditch.  This was conveniently where I often stop under a tree for a drink and a picture or two.  A backhoe was arriving just as I rode up and it struck me that this might make a nice little pictorial to share on the blog.

As cables snapped and early attempts failed to budge the truck, it became clear this was going to take them a very longtime to sort out.  I was rested and had my pictures so said my goodbyes and hit the trail again wondering if they would ever find the angle and leverage needed to salvage the truck.

Trail Shots from Today...

Just a quick post of a few trail shots from today.  Had enough sun yesterday afternoon and today to dry things out enough for a fun ride.  There was still a bit of water and mud in the low spots but nothing that couldn't be ridden through.  If some of the shots look familiar, I tried to shoot from the same place, to see the differences from past rides.  Ended up lakeside again at the halfway point.  No rain this time but needed the shelter of the sala to get out of the sun.

Dreams and Nightmares ...

After dealing with a forum stalker lately, who seems to be off his meds, I was in dire need of some trail time yesterday.  I pondered for a while which route to take to avoid the worst conditions.  Anyplace where they are hauling corn or lamyai the trails were sure to be awful so I settled on trying to find a strange place I had stumbled upon once before.

It looks like someone’s dream turned into a nightmare.  A resort in the middle of nowhere, deserted and dilapidated, a dream abandoned to the forces of nature and time.  To get there I started by traversing our village from west to east.  Popping out into the rubber plantation on the other side I was confronted by a road closure sign. 

Riding up to where the backhoe was digging I enquired as to the possibility of getting past.  The only path I could see was wading through deep loose freshly excavated clay.  To my surprise the backhoe driver drove from one side of the trench he was digging to the other, making a relatively stable track for me to walk my bike across.  After thanking all the workers profusely, I was soon back up to speed and heading on my quest.

Since most of the day’s route was familiar I had not bothered to glance at Google Earth before leaving.  I had found it before so surely I could find it again, I thought.  As the trail got narrower and more overgrown nothing looked familiar and it began to cross my mind that I could be lost.  The thing is, thinking you are lost and being lost are the same thing.  Unwilling to acknowledge defeat I persevered, when suddenly I found what I was looking for.

Across an area of open scrub was a small gap in the vegetation that I recognized as a way into the ghost town I was searching for.  What was once a road and cul-de-sac, meant for houses, was nothing more than a narrow overgrown trail by now.  After riding around the property and taking a few pictures I put my attention to finding a way home.

Nearing the river I caught sight of what looked like a potential photo op.  A large mound of corn husks was populated by a herd of cows lazily munching away and a few farmers and their equipment taking a break after bagging their corn.  More photos, and a little friendly banter this time, confirmed my suspicion that the best path forward was to stick to the road all the way back to Phaya Mengrai.  The cross country route was heavily rutted, I was informed, by the hauling of corn in overloaded farmer trucks.

Trying to make the best of this more trafficked route, I stopped at the main market to replenish my water bottle and indulge in some fried bananas.  Sticking to the back lanes took me past the village pond and recreation area where I stopped to eat my bananas and take more pictures.  While being pestered by some little kids who perhaps should have had adult supervision, I managed to capture a few rainbow shots both over the pond and out in the fields.

From there it was a fairly easy 11 km ride home, 3 km of which have been recently resurfaced, making for a very smooth ride.  Arriving home I was dirty and tired but content as endorphins continued to flush through my system.  The world was in balance once again and nothing could dislodge that smile upon my face.  Just another wonderful day on the trail.

Storms Trails and Trek Upgrades ...

On Friday there was much talk in the news of tropical storm Kai Tak and the potential for heavy rain in the North.  With the trails already saturated I thought it best to get in one more ride before the torrential rain that was forecast.  Of the 36 km I traversed on Friday, nearly 30 were on sparsely traveled backcountry roads.  The only dirt to be found was on the last 3.5 km past Tat Khwan Reservoir and on to Tat Khwan Waterfall.  With many hills to climb it was a tiring ride but the overcast sky rendered the day not too hot, with the destination making the effort seem worthwhile.

I was reluctant to post yet another mountain bike tale, feeling as though I am in a posting rut these days, but riding the Trek is what I have been doing lately.  Recent trail conditions pushed me to visit Northern Bike on Thursday to see about some additional upgrades to the bike.  There are a couple of other bike shops in Chiang Rai but my favorite is Northern Bike where I bought this Trek 4500 I ride.  I like that Peak, the owner operator, is not what one would call a salesman and never pushes for a sale.  He will offer an opinion if asked but is very low-key and waits for you to tell him what you want.

I was looking for disc brakes and a better front fork to help in dealing with the often rough trails I ride.  Taking his recommendation on both, I headed to Chiang Rai’s shopping mall to pass the time while Peak installed the parts, made a few adjustments we talked about and preloaded the front fork for my weight.  That is another thing I like about this shop.  You know who is doing the work and that it won’t be handed off to an inexperienced assistant.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like riding the trails on my mountain bike but it is just one of many interests I have and I don’t want to get put in a box and labeled as being one particular thing.  The mountain bike and the motorcycle do lend themselves nicely to photography and blogging so there in lies my main excuse for so many similar posts, I guess.  Perhaps my muse with awake one day and fill my head with wordier posts but for now I ride the trails and post pictures to fill the space on this page.

And by the way, Kai Tak failed to make an appearance on our local stage, so I needn't have rushed off to Tat Khwan when I did, but I'm grateful for the nudge it gave me in the right direction.  I almost forgot, the shocks were great and the disc brakes were very grippy.  Hope you enjoy the photos.

Rough Day at the Office...

Things were looking lovely when I started out but it turned into a rough day at the office.  I managed to get one shot of the trail before the heavens opened and things went for bad to worse.  Imagine these ruts full of water just minutes later.  The ridges between the ruts became as slippery as ice and my mud packed tires struggled to find purchase, leading to a very entertaining ride.  One I won't be eager to repeat soon.

A Break in the Weather...

With a break in the weather and more rain expected over the next few days, I thought it best to get out on the Trek, even if it was a bit hot today.  The overcast sky once again made photography a challenge but things are getting greener up in the hills and I couldn't resist trying.  The recently denuded hillsides are turning green again as cassava and maize take root.  While the rice fields around our house were planted a while back, the remote mountain fields I passed today were still being planted and will need a few more weeks to go from yellow to lush deep green.  I  look forward to taking this ride again as the plants mature.

After a mid-ride break at a favorite reservoir I stuck to asphalt for the 20km ride home.  In total today's ride was a little over 38km.  I don't enjoy riding on the side of the road but it is good exercise with the more constant pace and nothing to stop and take pictures of.

I have a lot on my mind these days and don't much feel like writing but I did want to share these photos before I go back outside and clean the mud off my bike.