DATE: Wednesday/Thursday September 12/13 THE WEATHER: Sunshine, Cloudy and Rain, Lightening, and Thunderstorms. THE RIDERS & BIKES: Tropicaljohno - Honda Degree 250, Ian Bungy - Yamaha Raid 250, Big And Tall (Justin) – KLX 300 THE WAY: Chiang Mai - Mae Rim – Mae Tang – Phrao – Wiang Pa Pao – Pong Nua – Phan – Chiang Rai – Phayao – Wang Nua – Chiang Mai ROUTES: 107 – 1323 – 1001 – 1150 – 118 – xxx – 1 – xxx – 1 – 120 – 118 Ian Bungy didn’t like being described as a geriatric in my last post, so this time it’s “The 3 Amigos Ride To Chiang Rai”. The plan was for us to check out some dirt roads for David’s new map. The 3 of us met at the X-Centre for a hearty breakfast, and check out the map. Justin and I had met up with David Unk the previous night in one of the local restaurants. David showed us his map and how he reckoned we should be able to find a track not shown on the map. Whilst getting our gear on, ready for the ride ahead, Ian mentioned that he had a spare pair of knee guards that he could lend me, which I was grateful for, as they would be coming in handy later on.. Filling up ready for the ride Tropicaljohno and BigandTall (Justin) All now ready for the "Adventure" Justin and Ian Bungy We headed off to Doi Luang National Park, with the intention of finding a way from Pang Luang to Ban Tham then on to Phan. Looks like there may be some serious dirt we will be riding on/in, so will be interesting to see how I go on my new bike, so far all I have done on it, is ride it to the local shops here on Phuket, and the ride with David and Ian the previous week, all on sealed roads. I had the map and camera; Ian and Justin both had their GPS’s, so between us at least we shouldn’t be getting lost. (Famous last words….). So after waving goodbye to Miss Long (Mrs. Bungy), off we went, the weather was fine, no need for wet weather gear, we rode via Mae Tang, Phrao, Wiang Pa Pao, and soon we were at the turnoff with Pong Nua and the 118 then on to the dirt. At first the dirt was nice and easy, and just as I was enjoying looking around at the scenery, I heard a thud, and on looking behind me, noticed I was dragging my overnite bag along the track. The bungy strap had broken and the bag was being pulled along behind on the strap. So first lesson I leant when riding in the dirt is check all straps properly before leaving. I have some proper straps with buckles, but had left them at home in Phuket. Once I had gone back up the track to retrieve my wet weather gear that had fallen off, as they had just been put under the strap, I retied the bag properly and raced on to catch the other guys up. Soon we were at the end of the track as it appeared on the map, and as it is only 11kms as the crow flies, to join up with the other track, we thought shouldn’t be too much of a problem to find our way through. Well, we went up and down numerous tracks trying to find a way through without any luck, then we came across a Thai guy driving a 2 wheel drive Toyota Vigo pickup, and he told us that if we want to follow him, he can show us the road to go. I enjoyed following the pick up as he was driving at my pace, it’s quite amazing how the locals manage to drive their pick-ups and Honda Wave’s on some quite steep tracks. Our friendly Thai man, (actually he is the local Toyota distributor just checking up on some of his customers), stopped to show us the way we needed to take, and then headed off. So off the 3 of us go. Not far along the track we came to a bamboo gate, so after Justin had removed the poles for us, we rode thru’, and then Justin put the poles back behind us. Justin being 'gate keeper' What a nice day for a ride The track then became very steep, downhill, and ended up a dead end, on the way back up, Ian and Justin made light work of getting up the track, but I was struggling a bit, then my back wheel started slipping and it slid in a rather large ditch. I went to put my foot down, and obviously there was nothing there, so over I went. I heard the crunch of my mirror breaking, but luckily that was the only damage. Eventually I was able to pick the bike up, drag it back onto the track, but each time I tried to go forward the back wheel was just spinning and sliding back into the ditch. Even standing at the side of the bike with engine running didn’t work. So I left the bike there, and started walking up the hill, soon to be greeted by Ian who had come to see where I had got to. Ian jumped on my bike, a couple of wheel spins and then he was out, and roaring back up the hill to the top, making it look so easy. Once I finally managed to walk back up the hill, It was a bit of a slog, walking back up the hill to the other 2, I checked over the bike again for damage, all was okay, so off we went back up to the junction again, trying to work out which way to go. There were a number of tracks all going off in different directions, and only a couple of signs around in Thai, so no idea which way to go. We rode thru’ a small village where a couple of locals were loading up a pickup, so Justin approached them, armed with paper and pencil, and between them all, Justin was able to work out our way to Phan. Justin working out with the locals which way we should be going Further along, the track became more used so we presumed we were going the right way. On one part of the track was a rather large puddle, with a sidetrack the pick-ups would use, Ian and I decided to ride thru the puddle, whilst Justin decided to take the diversion. Justin managed to hit a hidden tree stump, with his front wheel, the impact was so strong, that his rear wheel came right off the ground, and he managed to crush his nuts on the petrol tank, he didn’t fall off, but when he joined up with Ian and I, he was rubbing his ‘crown jewels’ a lot, and we both thought he had struck it lucky with one of the locals. No one said it was going to be this muddy.... The bikes will be needing a good clean when we get back... Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud..... Back on the straight and narrow Eventually we made it back out onto the road, and once we came across our first gas station stopped for a drink. We had only done about 50kms, but this dirt riding is pretty new to me and I would say that was the hardest 50kms I have ever done, great fun though. We rang David Unk and told him we had found the way thru’, I also asked him if I could claim for a new mirror as it was broken doing his map survey, he just gave his usual laugh, which I presume meant ‘no way’…. It was quite a small gas station, with a couple of young girls to serve us. On leaving Ian blew his horn, (his newly installed double whammy type), and the poor girls nearly jumped out of their skin. Actually Ian’s horns were a good idea as he had to use them a few times to get some dogs and chickens out of the way. So finally we arrived in Chiang Rai, Ian and Justin checked into a flash hotel, (900 baht a nite including brekkie), I checked into the Easy Guest House, directly opposite, (170 baht a nite, toilet/shower at end of hall). I think Ian was feeling a bit sorry for me as he had a spare breakfast coupon so invited me to join him and Justin for brekkie in the morning. Once we had all showered and got changed, we headed off for a proper foot massage. No more massage girls going out to be sick, that we had the week previous. We found a professional looking massage place, (i.e. the older more mature ladies sitting outside), and the 3 of us all indulged in a good massage. Nothing like a good foot massage at the end of a days riding. After that it was off to an Italian restaurant in the main street of Chiang Rai, then a quick drink and off to bed. Ian suggested meeting at 9am fro brekkie, but as I had no tv/shower/wc etc in my room, I woke early, was bored in my room, so headed across to the restaurant at 8.30am and started getting stuck into the buffet brekkie. I sent Justin an SMS to say I was already down stairs so he came down early as well, and by the time Ian arrived, at 9am, Justin and I were half way thru’ our food. After brekkie, we went to where the bikes were parked in the hotel car park. The previous nite Justin was a bit concerned about leaving his tools on the bike, and hoped they would all be there in the morning. When we got to the bikes, Justin noticed that he had left his ignition key in the bike all nite. While Ian was trying to tie his bag on, a friendly cat kept playing with the straps, and was having a great time. So now it was off to Mae Chai on route 1, and check out another track. Ian with a new friend Ian playing with the local pussy. We found the turnoff, thanks to David Unk SMS’ing the GPS lat/long, and as we were winding up into the mountain, still on sealed roads, the rain started. By the time we had come to where the track starts, the rain was so heavy we parked the bikes and sheltered by a disused house. Luckily all the houses have large overhanging roofs, so we managed to stay quite dry. I had parked my bike right in the middle of the tack, thinking no one will be coming along. But during the 90 minutes we waited there a steady stream of locals came down the mountain on their trusty Honda Dreams, some came past us 2 up, and one came with the guy riding it alone, and the wife walking behind. There was heaps of lightening and thunder, and the rain was so heavy, you couldn’t see the concrete road for the amount of water on it. One of the locals came along with a shovel, and started digging, trying to redirect the water, as presumably some of the houses in the village were getting flooded. It certainly rains over here big time The same track a week before Me parked in the middle of the track Any more rain and I think my bike will be floating down the road Here the local villager is trying to divert the water away from the houses Gee guys, a cup of tea would go down nice about now So after waiting around 90 minutes, the rain finally stopped, and then we decided to try the track out. The other 2 went on ahead and as I was trying to negotiate the slippery track, my rear wheel wend over the side of the bank, luckily I was able to stop before the front wheel followed over. I dragged the back wheel back over onto the track, and started off slowly over to the other side, where there was a large bank to stop you going over the side. (Should have gone that way to begin with). Finally after a lot of slipping and sliding I made it to the top. When I dismounted, the guys announced that it was now getting too late in the day to try and find our way through, as similar to the previous day, we have no idea how many false tracks we will go on, before finding the right track through. So it was another slipping and sliding session back down the track to where we had been waiting for the rain to stop. As the mud was so slippery, Ian walked back up the track to help me get my bike down. So now, it was back on the sealed road, and we headed for the waterfront restaurant in Phayao, same same one that Ian and I, along with David Unk had stopped at the previous week. Whilst having lunch the clouds were getting darker, so when we finished the meal we donned the wet weather gear on, and took the 120 and 118 back to Chiang Mai. The heavens opened up big time on the way back, with heaps of water all over the road, which made it a bit slippery in places. It was a shame we weren’t able to survey the track on the second day, but no doubt the boys will be back up there to check it out, preferably on a fine day. On the ride back into town, I stopped off at the X-Centre to leave my bike, as I had my trailer stored there, and got a lift into town. Will make it a bit easier in the morning as I will be driving back to Phuket then. So that night I was busy packing, and the following morning checked out of my guest house, dropped into say farewell to Pikey, bought some handlebar guards from Chiang Mai Motocross, (have a feeling they will come in handy…), and drove on up to the X-Centre, to collect my bike and trailer. Whilst there Justin and BarryBBQ turned up for lunch, Justin this time on his Yamaha xxx and BarryBBQ on his DR400. Barry had this crazy bright yellow plastic Mohican type fringe/haircut stuck to his helmet, which looked a bit strange. The guys were saying that whilst riding the tracks that morning they came across a falang walking along looking for his bike. Apparently the guy had got lost the previous day, left his bike, somewhere, and walked back down to ‘civilization’. Barry and Justin handy seen any dirt bikes where they had been, so it may be a while until the guy finds his bike, Ian helped me load my bike on the trailer, and showed me a different way of tieing the bike down. (Ian and Justin were like my personal guardian angels always making sure I was okay riding on the tracks…thanks guys..) So with all the chatting to the guys etc, I finally got away at 1pm. Only just over one thousand miles to Phuket, so I waved my goodbyes and it was out onto the highway. On the trip back I was getting 37mpg with my Honda Jazz, towing the bike, so that was good economy. Arrived back on Phuket 4pm Saturday to be greeted by the pouring rain, which lasted until late afternoon Monday. All loaded up ready to leave for Phuket. Looking back I had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and can’t wit to get back up there in the dry(er) season, around November.