I thought today would be one of the hardest days of the trip. It wasn’t particularly easy, but now that I’m comfortable here in Lampang, it doesn’t seem so bad. I guess after two weeks on the road my body is getting used to cycling 100+ km in a day.
I left Phrae just after 6 AM. My hotel had a breakfast buffet that was supposed begin at 6 AM, but by 6:05, it showed no sign of openning, so I hit the road without breakfast. I headed west out of town, and within a few kilometers I was winding and climbing into the mountains. The cool morning air and the intense green of the jungle brought back youthful memories of hiking in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle. I paused to admire a misty cloud hovering over a peaceful lake. If only I was riding on a dedicated bike path, just me and the jungle and the lake and the morning sounds of the jungle, instead of this narrow twisting kamikaze racetrack, with a 60 cm shoulder and all manner of vehicles, from motorcycles to 18-wheelers, whooshing impatiently by me. I’m glad to have survived.
Once past the mountains, the road leveled out, the shoulder widened, and the ride became much less stressful. I had a fast stretch here of about 30 km, broken up by a stop at a roadside cafe where I had a delicious chocolate cake washed down with a proper cup of coffee. Finally, I had my breakfast.
Halfway through my ride, I reached the base of the day’s crux, a steep climb of about 400 m (vertical) over a stretch of about 6.5 km. An extra climbing lane on the highway gave me a little bit of a cushion. I put my head down and cranked – in less than an hour I was at the top, where a village of colorful spirit houses mingled with the jungle. From there, it was a fast and fun 10 km-long coast to the base of the western side of the range, where I stopped for lunch at a roadside noodle shop. From there it was less than two hours into Lampang , over rolling cropland on quiet rural roads.
Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day in the USA, I will cycle the last 105 km to Chiang Mai. I will be very thankful to be home.