Temples and stupidity on bicycle trails......

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Pikey, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    This is going to be a bit of a weird/vague post as I was elected to do the initial write up but have no idea where the dirt route either started or ended! Hopefully one or more of my riding buds will chip in with names, GPS refs and/or Google Earth overlays.

    OK, so last tuesday (12/12) myself, Silverhawk, BarryBBQ and Dr.G met up for a hearty breakfast at the X-centre and formulated a plan(?) to visit a temple high in the mountains and then do a dirt track which would take us back into the Mae Sa valley. Weather was glorious sunshine and about 30 degrees.

    The motley crew from L to R: Dr.G, Silverhawk, Pikey & BarryBBQ.

    We backtracked to the 107 and took a left for about 1km to the village of Muang Pha where we forked off left. This turn is easy to miss (right Dave? [;)]) and is signposted "Prem International School" and "Buffalo Training Camp". Further along the road there is also a Buddha Footprint 15km sign signifying the temple which was our ultimate destination and these Buddha footprint signs were to crop up at various points along the route, making navigation easy (at this point at least!).

    The road meanders through typical N. Thai countryside and after about 4km (my guess) Silverhawk led us to a temple he had visited previously to show us the murals on the walls which depict the building of the place. The murals were both fascinating and humourous, with one scene depicting the villagers at a party, swigging lao-lao and puking up! Unfortunately, we couldn't take pics of the murals as they are behind glass but go and check it out for yourself. The name of the temple is Wat Nong Kai and it looks like this:

    A mysterious thing happened whilst visiting, 2 GT-Riders were victims of a brief alien abduction but were soon returned safely, claiming not to remember anything but both complaining of soreness of the arse!

    Onward and upwards, following the Buddha footprint signs. The road is concrete slab and is in good condition and is a nice ride in itself. After about 9km you hit the village of Baan Pa Tung and here you again follow the Buddha signs (left) and are faced with the "unnamed temple". Apparently this is a pretty recent construction and is huge and very ornate:


    So, it was here that we should find dirt. In fact, it was here that the "navigational difficulties" started. Silverhawk prodded BarryBBQ and said, OK, over to you, go find the dirt, should be straight ahead. Barry ripped off with myself in hot pursuit as, despite my offroad inability, I'd joshed him the day before about "roosting" him. So, 2nd and 3rd gear turns through forest with Barry easily getting the better of me and after only about 5 minutes, we emerge into a clearing with no further track. Doh! Dave and Dr.G pull up and the consensus is to go back to the village and ask someone. On emerging from the forest, we met a nice Thai lady who indicated a track to the left. We went about 20 yards and the track forked. Barry took the left to no avail and i took the right under a kind of car port structure, and ended up in somebody's back garden....

    Sooo, back to the village and we get conflicting info. As mentioned by others in threads, Thai people generally don't like to show that they don't know something, so rather than just say "sorry chaps, I don't know" they will point in an ambiguous direction! Eventually, a monk who spoke reasonable English got involved and we showed him our map and pointed to our sought after trail to which he said, "no no, cannot go with motorbike". Deflation all around - looked like we were going to have to backtrack all the way to the Mae Sa valley and play on Doi Suthep. Then another monk appears, little guy who didn't speak English but reckoned motorbikes could go along the trail. He tried to explain how to get to the start of the trail, but despite both Barry & Dave speaking reasonable Thai (Dr.G had sought out some shade and my Thai is veery basic), we couldn't grasp the directions. No probs, the little monk would show us he said and with that, hoisted his robes and hopped on the back of Barry's DRz400 - brilliant!


    So, where did we go? Up the road with the temple on our left for 500m or so, then looking left there is the trail I mentioned earlier with the car port structure. We went through the car port, theough the "back garden" and into the jungle via a very tight trail that it's doubtful we would have picked up without the monk's directions.


    After about 3km, we stopped and dismounted and the friendly little monk proceeded to draw directions in the dirt with a stick. Much nodding from GT-Riders but secret thoughts of "erm, not sure where...." were going through all our heads. When he was ready to leave, the monk refused the offer of a lift back, insisting he'd walk. As a parting gesture, as well as a bottle of water, Dr.G gave him a couple of stickers for the temple - one of the soon to be famous "Bull Dust Bob Mekong river jump" and the other of the already famous "Motorcycle Sexpedition" which Dr.G is continually and enthusiastically researching [:p]

    We were on our own now and the terrain, at least for this offroad idiot, was "testing" to say the least. Very narrow (about 2m in places), very tight and mostly downhill (remember, we'd ridden UP 15km to the temple on concrete). It was here that I was to sample my first taste of jungle for the day. Watching Silverhawk slither rather ungracefully round a very sharp, very steep off camber switchback, (but keep the bike upright), I thought I'd try an "easier" line. Result?

    Thanks a lot to Dr.G for coming to my aid and helping me get the bike upright again but true to GT Rider form, the stuff up first had to be caught on camera for future ridicule[:I]. My XR is kick only and refused to start so I had to walk it down the trail a ways before restarting and then crashing again through incompetence on steep downhills. Meanwhile, Barry was loving it, voicing the opinion that it was "just like woods riding in Michigan, but with bamboo!" Turns out it was a fecking mountainbike trail and that I at least had should have listened to monk #1 and not gone there - talk about out of my depth! Big thanks to Dr.G for hanging behind me ensuring that I got down OK (or was it just to be there with the camera to catch Pikey firing himself into the scenery???).

    I'll leave the rest to the other guys as I've waffled on enough and have no idea of the length of the trail or where we popped out onto tarmac again. Thanks guys for showing me where NOT to ride and as always, thanks for the support and the laughs [:D]



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  3. BarryBBQ

    BarryBBQ Ol'Timer

    Sorry for posting a little late, I was on a research mission with Dr G. and just got back. We met at the X Centre for brekkie and planned to run Dave’s loop before trying the back trail to Doi Suthep. It turned out that the little side trip took us all day.


    This was my first time riding two up with a monk on the back. The little guy seemed very happy to help us and refused a ride back to his dorm. We gave him a bottle of water and a few stickers. I told him to place the stickers in the hong nam for good luck.




    The temples were interesting to visit and the ride up to them was OK. Mostly concrete, mostly uphill. Next time I want to ride it in reverse so I can ride the dirt and use gravity braking in the dirt. The downhill in the dirt was kind of rough because you are almost always on the brakes. My DR is geared kind of tall right now so I didn’t get to use much engine braking. The deep ruts made me think of Big & Tall. I had a big advantage on this trail because I could paddle when it got tough.


    The single track section is about 6km long and drops 550m in 5km – good fun.

    I rode point during the single track and when I came to the steep downhill corner where Pikey offed I stopped and looked for a safe place to park, since I knew this would be a good photo opportunity. The trail was so steep and narrow that I had to ride another 500m before finding a suitable parking spot.

    While riding point, I noticed that the trail had been used recently by other off-road bikes. We came out in a different spot than they did because I lost their tracks before the end of the trail.

    We did find some bull dust and were reminded of our riding partner Bull Dust Bob. Too bad his clutch was knackered because it would have been good to have him along to balance things out. We also commented that this would have been a good trail for a skilled KTM rider.

    Proper riding gear. Pikey was wearing his weather proof armored jacket because that’s all he has right now. While the armor provided protection during crashes, it also acted like a sauna suit. When we stopped for a drink at the bottom of the hill he took his jacket off and the sweat ran out of his sleeves. He’s headed back to blighty for xmas and promises to return with more suitable gear. I’m looking forward to the next ride…
  4. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    .........and so I said "You gave WHAT to the monk?" I was not overjoyed with my partners having given "Sexpedition" stickers to a monk to be posted in the temple or wherever they may end up. That evening I go to bed at midnight still thinking of this faux paux and what happens at 12:03AM in my backyard?......

    ......... Buddha doesn't play! [}:)]
  5. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer


    Now that sounded like an interesting ride. I look at the Google earth map and think boy not much dirt mileage there. Then find out it took most of the day to complete it so it seems the journey was surely arduous, eh? Any other traffic on the trail? Did it seem like locals with their Honda dreams used it or was it mostly mountain bike riders?

    Prey tell who found this little trail on the map?

    I love the description of "into a parking structure and through someones back yard to access the trail".

    No fair having Pikey binning it again without me being there. I feel left out. Jeff at this rate you'll have those downhills mastered by the time I'm back over. Good on ya for giving it a go. Having seen poor Jeff sweating in his armored jacket on a few dirt bike rides I'm sure he needs no incentive to get some lighter wieght armor while he's back in Britian for the holidays.

    Did there look like there was any other single track trails branching off to explore?

    Luke sent me an email saying you guys were off again for some off road exploring. I'm champing at the bit here waiting for the next report.
  6. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    Hey B&T,

    Good to hear from you! "interesting ride" is not the exact phrase i would have used to describe it! The trail was actually a proper downhill mountainbike trail and as such, only a few idiots took motorcycles down there and I sincerely doubt any of the locals would be stupid enough to try it on a Wave e.t.c. Definitely different to a lot of the inter-village type tracks we've done together before.

    Yesterday, Luke, myself and Marcus (English guy been here loads before and allround good chap) redid the "Tigers in the Jungle" trail on our bikes and it was a laugh. No report from me as I did not have a camera and i reported it already but I hope Luke or Marcus will chip in on their take of it. After we popped out at the head of the Nature Trail we went to the Hmong tourist village for lunch and met 3 other offroaders. We asked if there was a way down the west side of Doi Suthep and into town and they confirmed there was and asked if we would like to join them. We agreed and continued chatting and it turns out the 3 of them are erm, how do i say it..... significantly more experienced than us 3 nobbers! Lunchtime chat revealed talk of enduros with one of the guys (a Belgian named Christophe) having been some form of champion. All 3 regularly compete at a high level in enduros - gulp!

    So, togged up and outside, amongst our motley 3 XRs are now 2 full-comp KTM450s and a Kwaka 650. Off we go on tarmac and all I can here is a KTM bellowing behind me and then being passed with the rider on the back wheel. We get to a point in the road and the guys say here we go. "Here we go???" where??? Feck me, it's like the unnamed temple track again but tighter! The 3 of them dump their clutches, roost us and just disappear downhill into the forest. We tentatively follow with me leading, barkbusters working fulltime deflecting foliage and first gear, tree dodging/slipping for about 300m until we came to a spot where we could stop. After "fecking hell" type comments from Luke & Marcus, we decided we were waay out of our depth for our limited experiences and that it was prudent to turn around and head back but not before killing the engines and shouting our plans to the others who were a 100 or so vertical feet below us. So, dodgy U-turns and back up, 1st gear and so steep that the front kept popping up. Leaning forward meant losing vital traction but sitting back risked a loopout. Lucky it was only 300m and we all emerged unscathed.

    I hope Luke & Marcus post here - top day but only goes to re-enforce that my offroad riding skills need to come on a long way before I can tackle this steep single track stuff with any kind of competence!


  7. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    "Faux Pas" so that's how you spell it.........

    Greg, you've been hanging around our Australian buddies too long. What the heck are you talking about? Anyway it was all in good fun and we had a lot of laughs. I also think maybe we were the brunt of the joke as the monk returned to the temple laughing about the trail he dumped the crazy falangs on. I look forward to the next ride together.

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