Contribution from down South

Jan 12, 2003
Contribution from down South
« on: Dec 26th, 2002, 1:12am » Quote Modify Remove

As requested by David, a few words on the sportsbike trip from BKK to CMX for the recent bike week.

You must all be far more tolerant and understanding people than myself because I was pretty sure I would come back to a torrent of abuse regarding the organisational abilities of the CM Bike week organisers, may they RIP.
Basically nothing worked from the advance information (none) to the registration to the ride out (no one knew where) and then the crowning achievement of failing to get the stage erected for the official party. Rearrange the words (in a could not brewery piss-up organise a) and you get the general idea. If I could find out where to go I would ask for my 1,000 Baht back.
On the plus side the ride up to CM was good, only got lost once and that was right at the beginning when we missed the turn off to Nakorn Sawan. Following Nay was easy enough as he kindly stuck his front wheel above the traffic at every possible opportunity. All we had to do was to look for the front end of a GSX thou above the car roofs and follow that. Will be practicing the wheelies on the Duke shortly so watch this space for the next injury report.
On a side note re speed; one of the best things about riding in Thailand is the lack of any speed limit enforcement beyond that implied by ability or road conditions, so when I see a nice longish and relatively clear bit of road I am going to wind it up and enjoy it. Most other places in the world you spend so much time looking in your mirrors for the police or at trees for hidden speed cameras, that going over 70mph would be dangerous, at least here you can focus your attention on the road and the conditions in front of you.
Arrived in CM and found hotel without any problems (just drive round the moat a few times until you come across it). Nay and Gianni carried on to Doi Suthep but us beer loving folk had decided it was time for a drink. Small problem was that it being the King's birthday there was no alchol on sale.
So we grabbed the nearest German (Jochen) and beat him up until he gave us the name of his secret contacts in the brewing industry. Taking us to the imaginatively named Chiang Mai German Microbrewery (great german sense of humour) we met Felix who makes the best beer in Thailand, sorry I meant to say, Chiang Mai.
Then on to "unofficially" open bars for the usual chit chat and beers with the local ladies.
Next dar was allegedy a 9:00am start for the ride out, but gave up on that after a 11:00 start immediately follwed by 200 HD's pulling into one gas station to fill up (commission perhaps). Decided we could not wait for another hour whilst they all filled up so we jetted off. Did the whole loop twice round beautiful twisty roads, up hills, down dales, dodge the elephant, accelerate past the bus convoy, slide through the elephant **** and brake hard hard hard at the cliff face. Fantastic stuff. Poor old Jochen suffered the curse of the Italian bike and broke down at the first gas station, so spent the day shopping and sightseeing. Peter claimed that the chain on the Blackbird needed tightening and wimped out as well. Had one trip into the shrubbery when chasing a bloke on a HD round the corners but managed to keep it upright for once.
Then back to the sports complex for a rest and the amusement of watching as the organisation went from bad to farcical with a few side glances at totally ludicrous. Pleased to say that the slow drag competion was won by a gentleman on a sportsbike, who easily demonstrated more control of his vehicle than the few HD drivers still sober enough to mount their machines. I mean if you can't even win a race to be slowest on a HD, what is the point? (I am still trying to sell a 883 Sportster if anyone is interested?)
Gave up on the party at about 9pm when it became clear that the stage would not be finished until about 11pm and then they would have to immediately start taking it down again. Another night out in CM, usual story, except for some really really bad mexican food.
Next day (Sunday). Decided to try and do the road to Mae Hon Son and back in one day, after all it's only 450 km or so. Test of manhood I said to myself. Chris was taking the day off for some serious shagging time so Jochen was on the Hayabusa with Nay, Gianni, Peter and myself.
Must admit I failed the test of manhood. Managed to get to Pai which is just over half way and then we collectively decided that discretion is the better part of valour and turned back. What a road!!. If doing over 200 on the CM highway is considered unsafe then attempting this road in anything other than a tank must be considered lunacy. Serious switchbacks with 2 foot bumps at the apex, 1 in 5 gradients, gravel, potholes, sand, landslides, cows (alive & dead), decreasing radius corners, oncoming convoys of pickups and bikes, damp patches, crashed bikes. This road has it all and then some. The 916 was great going up the hills, just put it in second and it chugged around nicely. Going downhill the low front end, constant heavy braking and racing position meant that I felt like I was permanently kissing the front wheel. Very tiring and on occasion very scary.
Next time I will go with something with a bit more fork travel and easier on the brakes, but in terms of improving skills and confidence this is a great stretch of (partial) tarmac. Before Peter mentions it I will admit that at one point I was overtaken by a couple on a Goldwing and a bloke on what looked to be a 600 Steed. The Goldwing paid the price later on, by crashing into a pickup. I hope the riders were OK.
Monday was back to BKK for myself, Chris and Peter. Relatively uneventful trip apart from a 30k stretch where the fuel warning light came on and there was no gas station in sight for ages. Ended up slipstreaming behind a minivan for 20k's at 100kph to conserve fuel.
So safely back with no dents, no bruises and bikes and friends all intact. See you there next year (although I will probably save on the BW ticket)