Friday, March 07, 2008

Rippin' It Up - Olde Skool

Day: 163
Chiang Mai to Suthep National Park to Chiang Mai
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 25 km
Avg Speed: 12.5 kph
Terrain: Downhill singletrack

We succumbed to the self imposed longing of singletrack and booked a tour with a local company. We had wanted to do a longer ride far away from town, but the tour operator talked us into doing a ride closer in the national park. The ride is called the Hunters Escape Route and follows foot paths made by the local H'Mong hill tribe. They have graduated to trucks so the foot paths are generally unused. The ride is rated expert with 20% off road and 80% singletrack. I was a little hesitant at doing an expert ride, but being that tour operator is 6’5” and lent me his bike along with body armor I figured what could go wrong. Leslie and I were the only clients on the trip and with our guide, Jay, we ran from top to bottom in a pretty good time. The bikes were full suspension downhill rigs with 6” front and rear travel. Mine had been put through the ringer since the operator weighs 270# (he is American not Thai) and had been riding it for a couple of years. The front shock needed new seals and the rebound was gone, so I figured if I did anything too gnarly to it I could just pass it off as his folly. Luckily I only had a little spill at the beginning and Leslie just took off like a rocket. She rode sweep the first half of the ride and when I dismounted to walk a section she rode past me on up to the guide. That is where I lost the privilege of second place and was relegated to sweep. Leslie kept up with the Jay the rest of the way down and at a rest stop he told her that she was the best female rider he had ever guided. The smile is still on her face. The riding was some of the most technical either of has had ever done, but with bikes that are made for downhill only you can pretty much ride over anything. At the bottom of the trail there were a section of jumps that I rode around and when I got to Leslie she remarked that she had jumped them all and had almost lost it on the last one. Did I pick the right girl or what? We ended up riding back through the city jumping curbs and dodging trucks. Jay took us to eat at a little restaurant that served up some great noodles and cold cokes. We grabbed some empty bike boxes at the shop and headed back to the hotel for some a/c and showers. We love to ride our bikes, but when given the chance we really love to really ride them.
Long live long rides


JennSean said...

I can imagine Leslie's proud smile!! I am pretty sure I have seen it a time or two before! The ride sounds awesome and I am very glad to hear you two got off the road and onto the dirt. So is Chiang Mai a big and/or wealthy city? The maps show some golf and country clubs in the area. When do you leave for Laos?
Happy trails!!
-JH (and SK)

CK and LK said...

Chiang Mai is pretty big but retains a lot of character. There are lots of places to eat, sightsee or just hang out.
We fly to Laos on Monday. We'll be starting in Luang Prabang.