Road Upgrades, left-handers & trucks. Dare I say it?…

DavidFL

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Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Just back from a run to MHS to suss out what can / cannot be done for the 13th annual GTR MHS Memorial Ride.



Dare I say it

Going from Chiang Khong my preferred ride is across Paradise Road to Chiang Saen, then 1016 to Mae Chan, then 1089 to Tha Ton & onto 107 down to Mae Malai, and then a right onto R1095 to Pai & MHS.

But why not go via 118 to Chiang Mai, or 118 & then R1150 from Wiang Pa Pao across to Chiang Dao?
Well that’s easy, because I actually love riding 107 from Chai Prakarn to Chiang Dao nowadays. It is a new favourite, and dare I say it, but I enjoy it more than 1148 even!

That’s a bit weird some of might say too. What about the trucks & traffic that builds up? It doesn’t bother me at all.
Ever since they upgraded 107 through the hills the road surface is a beauty, smooth consistent, plus they widened the road just that little bit more such that you can see through the corners ahead a bit & carry more speed & overtake a hell of a lot easier nowadays. The trick being to look ahead at the spaces where you want to go. Don’t look at the vehicles and blindly follow them; but look for the spaces & go.

107 flows a lot more smoothly, with consistent corners, is generally up and over one watershed and so a lot nicer ride for me. Better than 1148? Yep more fun for me.


Left- Handers & R1095
Like many other roads in the country R1095 now has been upgraded nicely. Smooth race track asphalt, but a bit of road widening along the way to give clearer vision ahead for over taking.

However the increased quality of road now sees bigger vehicles using the road. Trailer trucks & 10-wheelers, which you never saw once upon a time.

Heading west towards Pai I had a near miss deja vu moment with an oncoming, empty trailer truck. In a left-hander the oncoming truck had been corner cutting, to drag the end of the trailer across the road, impeding my lane & line of travel. Shit here we go again I thought, thinking of my Chinese trailer truck encounter in Laos 3 years ago:

R13n - Hit By A 22-wheeler Chinese Truck

This time fortunately there was enough space on the road for me to make a sudden line of travel adjustment & squeeze through.

I wondered again why this happens.
Well the truck is going into a right-hander, so he can see through the corner a bit more perhaps, plus is a bit higher sitting up in the cab. Also he may not be looking for another vehicle, a motorbike, travelling much faster than he is, so cuts off a bit more for ease of turning for himself. And then you arrive on the scene faster than he expected & have to negotiate the immediate challenge as quickly & safely as possible.

Further on up the road of R1095, between Pai & Soppong, there is another new menace on the new improved road - multiple heavily loaded 6-wheel trucks carrying sand from Pai to Soppong. Must be a shortage of sand available in Soppong for construction or road works?? I’ve never seen that before or so many. These trucks can be a danger & a nuisance, either carrying too much speed downhill or too slow going up hill. And so it was….

I had one nice adrenaline rush, when taking one of those step, sharp, uphill left-handers.
Hard on the gas I was, going around the corner to go up the sharp hill & a small petrol tanker was stopped in the blind corner, rolling back. With nowhere to go I instinctively flicked the bike out around the truck on the blind corner to make a safe pass with nothing coming. Extremely lucky I was, for it could have all been so very different – splat! Straight up the back end of the truck or into an oncoming vehicle.

What was going on to cause that? Well, another 80 metres up the hill was a 6-wheel sand truck plodding along at a snail’s pace. Yep the petrol truck must have got caught behind the extremely slow moving sand truck & had no choice but to stop, not enough power to overtake right on that blind corner.

Another delight of riding the left-handers on R1095.

So whilst they have improved the road conditions greatly, it has also facilitated the use of bigger heavier vehicles for a new more frequent road hazard. It maybe time to back off a little on the gas going round those blind left-handers now.

Enjoy the ride, stay alert & watch the spaces – where you want to go.

Several years ago I wrote these tips for riding in Thailand. Some of them will still apply.

Riding Safely

See also
Traffic & Roads

North Thailand Top Ten Roads
 
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