I am beginning this blog on the day before leaving on a 2 week, 1000 km cycling tour of around Northern Thailand. Here is my planned route. Yes, I am going it alone. I have always said that if you wait for someone to go with, you will never go and this is particularly true for a cockamamie trip such as this. My friends’ usual response is “you are crazy riding a motorcycle so far on the dangerous roads of Thailand”. When I tell them that no, I will be riding a bicycle, mostly they can only shake their heads before their eyes glaze over and they change the subject to their latest ache and pain, surgery or ailment. A few will ask “WHY?”. That is a legitimate question. I am not sure that I now the answer really. I’ve toured by car around Thailand, so the scenery and towns are already familiar. I’m not running (cycling) away from anything, at least not consciously. Most likely it is for the physical challenge and the fact that while on a physically demanding extended trip like this, I can eat as much and whatever I want without worrying about getting fat. It is also because it will feel oh so good when I am finished.
This will not be a wilderness experience. No camping for me. I will stay in modest resorts, guest houses, and hotels along the way. I will live off the land – meaning I will eat at whatever local restaurants I can find along the way. I will try and smell the roses and resist the urge to make this a race to the finish – although I know that eventually (probably sooner than later) it will become just that. I won’t be off the grid – but I won’t be glued to my computer/ipad/iphone like I am while at home. I am taking only some cloths and such miscellaneous toiletries that are necessary for a man of the modern age.
I am well prepared for this trip. My bike is a Marin Gestalt 2 bike purchased a year ago at Mong Cycles right here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The owners Mong and her husband Stuart have gone above and beyond to make sure my bike is as well equipped and maintained as possible. I thank them both for instructing me on basic maintenance and repair, and for putting up with all my ignorant questions. I also thank them for not laughing at me when I insisted on installing a kick stand (which had to be special ordered from the USA).
The Gestalt 2 is a kind of hybrid bike – built like a road bike with drop handlebars, but with larger tires and disc breaks like a mount bike. It is equipped with locally made panniers and handlebar bag, a wireless cats eye speedometer/odometer, and a mount for my phone. I have all the tools recommended by Stuart and Mong (but do I know how to use them?) and all the recommended spare parts. My worse fear on this expedition is not being run over by a crazed can driver, but rather that I will return to Chiang Mai with me and my bike ignominiously loaded in the back of a songtaew because I couldn’t make some simple repair.
First stop – somewhere south of Phrao – talk to you from there!