ride story: the MHS loop 24/11 to 26/11

Jan 12, 2003
ride story: the MHS loop 24/11 to 26/11
« on: Dec 1st, 2002, 2:02am » Quote Modify Remove

Having had enough of the fireworks of the festival in Chiang Mai, the three of us headed out on 250cc rentals again for the MHS Loop. A different bike from each shop, one from Joe's (TTR), a Yamaha Raid? from Lek and another of the latter from some place around the corner from Mr. Mechanic out of some cafe. That bike was the loudest thing I've ever frickin' heard, but the brakes were a hell of a lot better than the CRM I had from Mr. Mechanic so I just went with it.
As usual, the three of us got a late start, not leaving Chiang Mai until around 2:30pm, riding the loop in a CCW direction. I forget the route #s and don't have a map handy, so I'll just have to describe the route (not too many choices anyway). First day was incredible, after you turn off the main drag heading north and start toward Pai, the road is 80km of twisty insanity. I got used to the huge dirt knobs squirreling around in the corners after a bit and could really lay into the turns. The views on top of the pass about 25km from Pai are amazing and we came over there about sunset with a big moon rising above the range. The kind of panorama that cameras just cannot capture. Dark was settling in, and so were the bugs so I was glad for the goggles I'd been loaned from the bike shop. My other riding mates were not as lucky and were doing their best wearing dark sunglasses at night.... The road is in generally great shape with a few washed out sections from recent landslides and the few big rainstorms recently. Not any problem though, I mean, ****, there's three-up dreams heading across it so any bigger bike is a piece of cake. Spent the night in Pai, ate some great pizza at some french guy's place, had a mediocre massage and finished off the night at the Blue Mountain bar where a live thai reggae band was rocking it out 'til late. We stayed at BIG guesthouse, at 150 baht a night it was no 4 star, but decent enough for a quick nights rest (the drinks didn't hurt either)
I really liked Pai, but the next day we got our typical early start, heading out about noon toward Mae Hong Son on the main road. Again beautiful rolling hills, twisting road with nice predictable corners kept on coming. We headed off on a side route at one point, going up and up the hills toward Burma through some villages but turned around after twenty klicks or so and drove through Mae Hong Son, stopping for dinner at the Fern restaurant. We leave there at four with another sixty km or so to get to the next stop, as we knew we had to keep moving, the next day was to be our last as we had to get back to CM to pickup tix for the next leg of the trip (Bangkok to Hanoi). A mad dash down the road along the river was absolutely blissful. Full tilt on the throttle I burned off a fair amount of rubber on that flat twisty stretch. A night spent in (insert next town south of MHS here) yielded little to do but have a few pops sitting on the side of the road and meeting the local drunkard.
We actually got our asses out of bed the next day by eight or so and on the road as we knew we had a good haul in front of us. We took the road toward Mae Chaem, which was smaller and had some bad sections with potholes but all nice and fast if you wanted it. A landslide here and there and then a bunch of construction goin on but with so little traffic on the road it was all a cakewalk. Things went awry when we took a wrong turn at a T intersection thirty or forty km from Mae Chaem. The wide paved road turned to dirt and then went through some water crossings. I was having a ball so no questions went through my mind at first. After 40 km or so and the road turning more to muck and ruts with deep puddles we stopped and re-thought the situation. A few local hunters on a dream pointed us back down the road and reluctantly we back-tracked (although really tearing it up now, knowing the road a bit). More of the same blissful road to Mae Chaem and a quick stop at the market for grubs and we head onto Chiang Mai. Unfortunately I played it safe and followed the signs to CM which took us the long way, heading south. But the flat roads along the river are so much fun to blast along on. There were about eight construction areas in dirt along the way, spread out by a few kms each of pavement. The first one we were just putting on through carefully and the second a bit faster. By the last one I'm accelerating for the dirt with a foot out sliding both wheels around the corners. Good fun. The end was another night time fast blast to CM, 130km/hr (top speed on the bike) up the main drag to get to the travel agent before it closed. Made it by five minutes...
Unbelievable experience all around, what a beautiful stretch of roads. we did 800km in the 3 days, which really is a minimum for the ride. Being able to spend more time in a few towns would have been much nicer, but it'll have to wait for next time. We headed to Hanoi for another four day tour on Minsks, but thats another story altogether (and an epic journey to boot).
Sorry for the lack of route #s to go with the story, but its not too hard to figure out, there are few main roads.

Joe Graney