Mae Hong Son Loop One Day Scooter Challenge

ZCM

Ol'Timer
Jun 23, 2011
318
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MAE HONG SON LOOP ONE DAY SCOOTER CHALLENGE​

Well, this is going to be a bit of an odd ride report. It’s been a while since I have written any kind of ride report due to Covid-19. I have been out on rides of course, but local rides and nothing really worthy of a blog/trip post. For those rides, I focused more on just posting up YouTube videos.

So, let’s get to this scooter challenge…

A few days ago in a local rider group, a rider posted up about wanting to take on a Mae Hong Son Loop one day scooter challenge. The Mae Hong Son Loop is northern Thailands most famous loop and is considered to be one of the world’s best motorcycle routes. The classic version of this loop is around 600kms which reportedly has 1864 curves (with 765 of those concentrated on the 100km Pai mountain route stretch).

Where the challenge originated –​


The first documented MHS scooter challenge that I know of is back in 2003 here on GT.Rider. David then arranged the ride again in 2010. Lots of fun and makes for some really fun reading. (Links to these ride reports below).


GT.Rider Scooter Challenge in 2003 (photos courtesy of GT.Rider): Read about this fun ride HERE

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GT.Rider Scooter Challenge in 2010 (photos courtesy of GT.Rider): Read about this fun group ride HERE

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My ride on Saturday (May 22nd 2021) –​


Despite saying I would never ride a big ride on a scooter again (following a bad accident many years ago), once I saw the post suggesting a scooter ride and saw that another rider was willing to take up the gauntlet too, I decided that I would go for it and join in. Keep in mind this period is also Monsoon Season in Northern Thailand, with temperatures reaching around 38-degree celsius. So, there was every chance of rain despite it being the start of the season and every chance of it being extremely hot! Nutters! Haha!


The bike I chose to ride –​


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Honda Click 125i was my ride. I had a bit of a frantic Thursday prior to the ride on Saturday (as it was the only time I had available to source a bike). At first Mark from Mango Bikes kindly offered me a bike (for free!), but then his mechanic was hesitant about what the bike was going to be used for. I totally understand this. If you are going to be taking on a challenge like this, it is important to be upfront with the rental company you will be borrowing from. Ying at Mr Mechanic came through with a Honda Click 125i and took me along to the main garage to talk with their mechanic. I explained what I planned to do and they helped me work out the best bike choice with the mechanic saying he would go over the bike before I picked it up on Friday. I picked up the bike on Friday before their shop closed and then packed up the bike with a few snacks and coconut water (electrolytes!). At around 11 pm I headed to bed in the hope of sleeping. By 1 am I was still hoping to sleep and by 5 am I was wide awake after a poor sleep (not unexpected. Happens every time before a big ride. I am sure most riders can relate).

On the morning of the ride –​


From the get-go, things took an unexpected turn…

Three of us were planning to ride this challenge. Confirmations were made the night before. We would meet by 5.55 am. Stands up at 6 am and off. Except I ended up being the only person waiting at the planned meet point! Turned out that the organiser had taken off before 5 am. That in turn made the other rider take off early (which I did not realise at the time). I messaged the group saying I would wait until the agreed time at the agreed location. Let’s just say it was a little irritating to start off my ride in this way.

Moving on…

The Route –​

An anti-clockwise loop starting from The Mellowship Jazz Club.
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The Ride –​


At 6 am there wasn’t much traffic and thankfully not overly hot. I wore my Inuteq Dry Cool vest which had been cooling in the fridge overnight, so that helped too. In a small bag at the front of the scooter, I packed an ice bucket with ice and a cloth (clip of this HERE), which I knew would come in handy for soaking myself down on the ride. The first leg is boring highway, so all I could do is chug along until I got on the R1095 Pai route.

The Pai route was a little wet in areas and so a little slippery. Being on a rental bike that I was unfamiliar with had me riding with caution. Plus, I didn’t want another scooter accident. This ride, despite the fearful beginning, was actually good for chasing away a few demons from my past as I eased into how the bike responded. (The bike I rode for several years back in 2010 for trips and tours around Northern Thailand was a Yamaha Fino 115cc scooter. It served me well until a bad day almost cost me my life).

By the time I reached Pai it was 8:30 am and I was kicking myself for going into Pai town, using the main garage instead of the one on the outskirts. The garage was busy and I could feel the clock ticking. Given that I had to wait in line I got my phone out and sent a message to the rider group chat saying where I was and wishing the guys good luck. The previous messages from earlier in the morning had been unread, so I wondered that they might not check their phones on this ride until after the ride is over. I got filled up and rode through Pai town seeing as I was already there (quiet at this time, but restaurants were open), then headed off to Mae Hong Son.

By 10 am I arrived in Mae Hong Son and decided I may as well turn on my GoPro. I had been hoping for a neck-and-neck style group ride to record, but the guys had a head start, so the chances were slim. I figured I should just enjoy the ride for what it was: A solo ride challenge.

After Mae Hong Son the route (the classic route) is not my bag. It is long sweeping curves that are arduous on a smaller bike. I prefer the Khun Yuam – Mae Chaem route (or even better, the R4009). It was beginning to heat up and I felt a bit of irritation creeping in that I didn’t have an extra hour of coolness (it would have been my preference to ride earlier, but I stuck to the plan…). Tally ho!

During the ride I stopped briefly at intervals to freshen up, with just one longer rest and cool down at the pretty Bo Kaeo Pine Tree Garden. I had 5 fuel stops. The original Relive ride is here (I forgot to turn off the app, but as you can see from the photo at the end, the time stamp shows 9 hours and 22 minutes. It took me a bit of time to get my phone out of the bubble wrap envelope under the seat. The bike clock showed 9 hours and 20 minutes when I came to a stop).

Things I wish I had done differently? I wish I had treated it more as a race, actually. Despite this being announced as not the agenda, it clearly was. I could have skimmed more time off the ride. In particular, I wish I didn’t somehow get disorientated after Ob Luang which caused me to get off my bike twice and open up the seat to get out my phone to check google maps. Why I had this disorientation? I have no idea. I suppose the heat maybe? Talking of heat. I wish I had set off earlier. Nonetheless, it’s all good. In the end this stuff only comes across as excuses, so I will leave it at that.

Video –​


Given that I had nothing to show except me uneventfully riding the Mae Hong Son Loop on a scooter (which isn’t a lot of fun to edit or watch as a viewer), I decided to put this video together using the Relive app and my GoPro footage.


An unedited snip of the ride is HERE.

Lengthier unedited footage from my GoPro (starting from Mae Hong Son until the SD card is Full)


Was a good ride. If you take on this challenge, have a safe and fun ride!


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rudeboy

Ol'Timer
May 5, 2012
46
16
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Nice report and seemed like a fun day, done the loop years ago on a DRZ400, once covid settles down I plan a trip north on the big beemer, not sure if I'll do the full loop again but some of it will certainly be on the agenda,

Did you get any response from the organiser to say why he left early without letting anyone know? I mean who organises a group ride then buggers off an hour early without telling anyone, shitty thing to do in my book...
 

Moto-Rex

Moderator
Jan 5, 2008
947
291
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Great write up ZCM.

This was one of the best day rides I've had. Its a big ride on a little bike that's for sure.

Thanks for reminding me of just how good it was, and how time fly's. Eleven years ago. OMG

Enjoyable read.

Moto-Rex
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,599
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Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Nice one Zed. That MHS Loop in a day on a scooter is one of the best fun rides I have ever had.
Perhaps I should revive the it for an annual ride in May again, for it really is an incredible day out with the the right bunch of people.

A shame about the kerfuffle at the start with your ride.

Thanks for the report, you really made be jealous!
 

ZCM

Ol'Timer
Jun 23, 2011
318
288
63
cm
Nice report and seemed like a fun day, done the loop years ago on a DRZ400, once covid settles down I plan a trip north on the big beemer, not sure if I'll do the full loop again but some of it will certainly be on the agenda,

Did you get any response from the organiser to say why he left early without letting anyone know? I mean who organises a group ride then buggers off an hour early without telling anyone, shitty thing to do in my book...
Sorry for the late reply. It was fun, yes, but I was a little sad at not having the original plan of three riders having a little challenge against each other. I think it would have made a really fun video as well. Nevermind!
Btw..I love the DRZ400! What a wonderful bike!
The response to my inquiry about why he left early was ignored in the group chat (he read and left). His response in a local rider group on Facebook (when he posted his ride details) was. "I didn't sleep last night. Maybe too excited? Wasn't in the mood for people today so thought it best to go solo."
For the record, he did message the group when he left, but we were all busy getting ready and getting to the meeting spot. So neither of us noticed until we arrived at the meeting place. Anyway, the other rider took off in pursuit and I didn't realise and so I waited as planned. It wasn't the best way to start off a ride, but again..nevermind! I think at this point I will be quiet about it as I feel like I said enough and well, I hate bad-mouthing and the annoyed feeling has left me.
 

ZCM

Ol'Timer
Jun 23, 2011
318
288
63
cm
Nice one Zed. That MHS Loop in a day on a scooter is one of the best fun rides I have ever had.
Perhaps I should revive the it for an annual ride in May again, for it really is an incredible day out with the the right bunch of people.

A shame about the kerfuffle at the start with your ride.

Thanks for the report, you really made be jealous!
Oh gosh David, I think reviving it would be so much fun!!!
 

Heineken

Ol'Timer
Mar 2, 2019
222
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Yes indeed if you had good lights, but most scooters don't, sad to say.


Most newer model scooters now have excellent headlights, nearly all are now LED, I dont ride much at night, usually having a beer :cool: ...................................even our 2015 PCX has LED headlights, my missus 1st comment after riding home late one night from Phayao was this motorbike make night time look like day, my X-Max is the same, there brilliant.


Quite often I see some bright headlights ahead and when I get closer, expecting some big bikes, its an Aerox or Click loaded up for a farm run, or shopping..........................times are a changing, I think even the new Honda Wave now has a LED headlight ?
 

Alamo

Ol'Timer
Nov 6, 2014
82
13
8
"Yes indeed if you had good lights, but most scooters don't, sad to say."

Don't be sad FL.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs in an older bike
is cheap & EZ.
 

ZCM

Ol'Timer
Jun 23, 2011
318
288
63
cm
It would be fun to do at night.
The irony is my scooter lights are better than my dtracker lights. I rode from Vientiane to Chiang Mai overnight in what may as have been by candle light! I also rode the Pai road at night too..as has David. I enjoyed it. (Vientiane to Chiang Mai was too much, but Pai to Chiang Mai was ok).

This video is a clip from the long night ride from Vientiane to Chiang Mai, before it got PITCH black:


...and this was my terrible headlights in riding back in the real dark. 777km overnight lol. I had to latch onto any cars that were driving between villages so that i could use their headlights to guide me. I now have some additional lighting I can plug in and use if I ever end up riding at night again.
 

ZCM

Ol'Timer
Jun 23, 2011
318
288
63
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maybe get LED for the Kawasaki.
I actually have a real hatred for those bright white lights. They are so painful on the eyeballs for oncoming traffic. ..although I know they make sense.
I am happy with my yellow candle light but I have strong LED lights that I can slot onto my bike for night riding use. (I had a long drama with additional wired LEDS that are best not brought up or my head will explode from the memory ^^)