November 22, 2017 – Northern Thailand Cycling Tour – Fighting Traffic – Phrae to Lampang

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.

Early morning mist west of Phrae
A rock garden of granite boulders west of Phrae

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.

Spirit houses in various states of repair sit at the crest of the high ridge south of Lampang

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day in the USA, I will cycle the last 105 km to Chiang Mai. I will be very thankful to be home.

5 thoughts on “November 22, 2017 – Northern Thailand Cycling Tour – Fighting Traffic – Phrae to Lampang

  1. Prem Saint November 22, 2017 / 5:34 pm

    You are brave, riding on those narrow mountain roads, Brady. I like the picture of the early morning mist over the lake, near Phrae. What are spirit houses?


    • baldbrady November 22, 2017 / 9:45 pm

      Spirit house are placed there by relatives of people who were killed on the highway to provide a place for their spirits to live.


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