Chiang Mai - Day 3
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 22 of 25 › view all entries
Once we arrived at the top of the mountain (5400 ft), they paired each of us with a bike and suited us up in protective gear (elbow pads, shin pads, knee pads, chest/shoulder protector, long sleeve biking shirt, and helmet) and then had us take some time on two short trails to get used to the bikes. After we were used to bikes, they had us do a roll through to get a feel for how comfortable we looked on our bikes and then split us into three groups (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Intermediate [no expert runs today]). I was put into the intermediate group (along with three other people) since I had never done mountain biking before, but am fairly athletic and coordinated and looked comfortable on the bike. I was glad, because after watching a couple of the people in the beginners group, if I had been with them it would have either meant a really easy ride, or a really slow one.
Once everyone was grouped up, we set off down the mountain after our guide. Our course was a trip down into a valley at 3200 ft, then a climb back to 4100 feet and finally down to the base of the mountain (1200 ft). It was a very challenging ride with lots of deep ruts, rocky terrain, wet and muddy surfaces (it is the rainy season), and a few short sections of single track. It was absolutely essential that you kept your weight back on the bike, because when you entered into any of the ruts or holes the bike would practically stop and if you weren't back, you would be thrown over your handle bars. I came off the bike twice (everyone except the guide came off at least once), but had no serious injuries since after as many years of sports as I have played, I know how to fall without hurting myself. The padding came in handy though.
The trip was also physically exhausting. Having been in Thailand for over 5 weeks, without any real opportunity to exercise really took a toll on my fitness level. Add to this the altitude, heat, and humidity and the climb out of the valley really took its toll on me even though the two Australians and I walked part of the hill. I don't think I have been that tired since two-a-day football practices in high school, after slacking off all summer. Luckily there was a really long break at the top of the hill.
After a nice long break, we made the final descent to the lunch spot. When we made the bottom, I could barely stay on my bike I was so exhausted both physically from the biking and mentally from having to concentrate so hard to pick my lines. It was a great feeling to have completed it however and lots of fun.
John and I grabbed some sandwiches at a cafe across from the train station to eat later for dinner (we learned are lesson after that breakfast on the train on Saturday) and then boarded our train. It was a good ride back. We met a group of Frenchmen who were playing drinking games and John and I joined them for a little while. It turns out that they play some of the same games we play, but their rules are different. I tried some Thai Whiskey called Sang Som, which at first I thought was some of the worst whiskey I had ever had. Then I looked at the bottle and discovered that even though everyone in Thailand calls it whiskey, its actually a dark rum. That explained why it tasted nothing like I was expecting and once I started comparing it to rum, it really wasn't that bad. I didn't stay up too late, since I was exhausted from the biking and have to work tomorrow.
There aren't many pictures as I was too concerned with no dieing to take any.