Lost  in  Thailand .... a series of some observations and photos

by Mike Schultz  

1/20/23 - In The Beginning

Totally settled in here at a guesthouse on the beach with all amenities 300 dollars a month. Luxury for me. The second hand Richert bicycle I bought from an overweight Dutchman for 100 dollars needed work but it may serve well. [See lower right panel for Mike's self described "My trusty, rusty, crappy Richart junk bike. How I miss my bamboo."] 

I've been going out on group rides with Jomtien Cycling Club 3-4 times a week. Brutal! We leave town in darkness 6:15 am sharp and make our way into the surrounding hills. The obstacles are quite surprising, packs of wandering feral dogs, water buffaloes, mendicant monks, tuk-tuks, street vendors, maybe an elephant or two

I've been going out on group rides with Jomtien Cycling Club 3-4 times a week. Brutal! We leave town in darkness 6:15 am sharp and make our way into the surrounding hills. The obstacles are quite surprising, packs of wandering feral dogs, water buffaloes, mendicant monks, tuk-tuks, street vendors, maybe an elephant or two. Once out of town, it opens up a bit and we settle into a nice pace usually 22-26 kph but where it's flat and open over 30. These guys are serious, a few ladies as well, all nationalities, but mostly expats from Europe. They tell me there is a faster group but any faster would seem suicidal. The roads have to be scanned constantly for holes, storm drains and puddles of cooking oil. There are some nice dedicated bike trails circling the lakes where we do multiple circuits in relative safety. No trouble opening up the pipes there and beautiful scenery to enjoy. Weather is comfortable and cool in the morning and we finish up the rides before 10 am. By that time, the temperature is rising and the sun burns intensely. Rain is not expected until April. 

Today is Chinese New Year which is a big thing here in Thailand. Free food for foreigners all day. I'll try not to drink too much beer. Big ride tomorrow morning with another group, upcountry to Silver lake. This is a whole new level of cycling. An adrenaline rush from start to finish. Hope I survive.

Good luck to all in Sussex and keep riding,

Mike in Thailand 

.........Read more from Mike below.........

Mike’s “Thai” Bike he acquired used shortly after arriving  in Thailand (January 2023)

"My trusty, rusty, crappy Richart junk bike. How I miss my bamboo." 

1/26/23 - Two Weeks In The Saddle (Bicycle Skills, Strength And Cardio), At My "Retro Gym" (Cross Training)  On The Beach (Mostly Working On My Suntan)

Well the group I'm riding with is an interesting mix of nationalitied, Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch, English, Thais...who knows who else will join up for a ride. Most don't stay long. We did a metric century this week and if that doesn't kill their spirit the hill climbs will. They are steep, like the dune on the Beer Trail ride but 20 times longer. I've joined the few masochists that do this regularly and they are killing me. We chug Up to the top of the hill with its golden temple, rest a minute then scream down the hill at terrifying speed dodging temple dogs, cats, and pigeons. Then up again on another approach five times. They told me they only rest at the top for my sake challenging me to tough it out next time. Hah! We'll see. They have expensive light weight bikes. Mine is over 10 kilos, definitely not a climber. 

Tomorrow we ride to lake Mabprachan. I did this one already. It's about 20 km out of town. We do 3 or 4 circuits around the lake, 10 klicks each. Then back to town. The trail around the lake is beautiful with few obstacles, smoothly paved in most parts. Where it's flat we maintain about 30 kph. Thailand traffic moves on the left side of the road and I'm still getting used to that. Sometimes I feel like the group should slow down for safety sake. Usually, they do about 20 to 26 kph on the roadways. Motorcycles outnumber cars here but you may meet any sort of vehicle imaginable, some extremely slow like 3 wheeled motorcycle powered carts selling street food. 

So far everything has been good. When not riding with the group, I ride an hour or two solo. Always in the early morning before the sun is up too high and bright. After a quick breakfast, I go to the gym which has equipment straight from the 1950s era. An hour there then off to beach for a swim. I may not be the best cyclist when I get back but I will have the best tan. 

So two weeks into this trip already and I'm completely accustomed to the time zone and climate. I moved yesterday from one cheap guesthouse to a slightly less cheap one, bigger room, better view of the sea. In one month I'll have to leave to renew my visa. Thailand now give 45 days on arrival. Cambodia (Anghor Wat) or Indonesia (Bali) are the best options. Upon returning to Thailand, I can get another 45 day visa.

Time for a stroll along the beach to catch another perfect sunset, have dinner 3 bucks, a beer 2 bucks, a massage 6 bucks. I'm really working too hard. 

Sorry for the lack of photos but here are a few ideas for your next bicycle [See Right Panel].

Ride on,

Mike in Thailand 

.........Read more from Mike below.........

1/27/23 - Finally - A Flat Ride Around the Lake (Getting To and From The Lake -NOT)

Lake ride this morning was good, 26-30 kph, no wind. 75 klicks. 

My after ride breakfast [See Bottom of Right Panel]. 

The food is fantastic of course, tropical fruits, vegetables and seafood all locally produced, many in season now. 

I'll try to send a detailed description of the rides each week. 

Photos are tough on a ride. They just don't stop. 

I'll be back early April. Hah, you can have your cold weather.  

1/28/23 - Update: Morning After The Ride .....Did I Tell You About My Breakfast?

A nice bungalow can be rented on the lake - all amenities included - for 5000 baht or 152 USD......a month! Sunrise is spectacular. Cool in the morning about 72F, all year. We started at 6am, around 70 km total.

Here's a link to a video to the area we rode (Bicycle Ride at Mabprachan Lake in Thailand with members of the Biker Grove Cycling Club. October 30. 2021): https://youtu.be/bNguFycXvRE

Ride on,

Mike in Thailand 

.........Read more from Mike below.........

Mabprachan Lake, Pattaya ThailandMabprachan Lake and it’s surrounding forests, parks and shores cover an area of 3,500 rai [5.6 million square meters/12,856 acres], with a shoreline that stretches some 10 kilometers long. The lake is said to hold an estimated 13,300,000 cubic meters  [3,513,488 gallons] of water.

1/30/23 - Cycling In The Land Of Smiles With A Weight Disadvantage 

We did a 80+ km ride Sunday, plenty of hills on the way but all manageable with the big chainring. Once again, we started at dawn, 6:15am here. A larger group than normal met at a local restaurant, Brits, Canadians, Dutch, Thai and one lone American from the flatland. The destination was Ban Chang in the neighboring province of Rayong. We passed through fields of casava, groves of oil palm and rubber trees, and thick jungle. Some of the roads were surprisingly quiet. It was so nice to relax after dodging motorbikes and street vendors. The air was unusually cool, perfect for the Westerners but the Thais wore body suits against the "cold". 

This group takes longer breaks than SCBC. We stopped on a high overlook at the Phufa restaurant which caters to cyclists, plenty of bike racks and plenty of coffee. I haven't seen any beer drinking. Strange! They are more into sports drinks. Other small groups of cyclists arrived one after another until the place was quite full. Apparently there are many small groups in the area ranging from entry level to near pro. I saw some expensive bikes. No wonder they're killing me on my dime store bicycle. It looks good but it's heavy as a stone. I'm sticking with it though. This is just training, torturous resistance training. Dang, it's exhausting!

So here's a few photos of the group. There's even a few lovely Thai ladies in remarkable fitness. The Thais invited me for brunch at a roadside Thai restaurant on the way back. Eat with the Thais and you'll pay one third the usual price. It's called double pricing. Complain as you will, foreigners always pay more. Hah, unless they speak Thai. So, 60 baht (2 bucks) for shimp fried rice, fried eggs and fresh fruit juice. 

I didn't get back to my guesthouse until 11, later than normal. So exhausted, I could barely climb the four flights of stairs to my room. A day off is sorely needed.

                                                           Cycling in LOS (Land Of Smiles)

Mike in Thailand 

.........Read more from Mike below.........

2/6/23 - One Month In The Rear View Mirror And The Heat Is On

I'm approaching the end of my first month in Thailand. The cool mornings and breezy afternoons are coming to an end. Slowly we're sliding into the hot season. That means 80F will become upper 90's and beyond. By April the temperatures will be into the 100s. I wish I could say "no sweat", but I'm losing gallons on these long rides into the countryside. Electrolyte drinks are a necessity. 

The rides have fallen into a pattern. Tuesdays are for the hard core. Only Rinus from Holland and Richard from the UK seem to enjoy this form of punishment. We head straight to Pratumnak hill and climb this highest point at least 5 times. It's getting slightly easier each time but still they outdistance me going up and streak away from me on the downhills. At this point my main concern is survival. Going down these steep, winding hills at break neck speed may be a rush for these guys but I just want to go home in one piece. My hands are numb from squeezing the brakes. It's all excellent training though, a type unavailable in Sussex County.

Fridays are another form of training. Speed work around the 10k track on Lake Mabprachan. I didn't make it there this week. No more than 2k outside of town in total darkness I hit a pothole, a deep one that almost knocked me over. I opted to walk it back into town and let the group continue on. I knew this had to happen eventually but with a bike shop nearby why try to fix a tire in the dark. I dropped the bike off, went back to my room and picked it up later that morning, no waiting, 6 bucks for a new tube and no labor cost. 

Sundays attract the largest group. It's always a long, scenic ride. This week's ride was to Radar hill. We passed two beautiful lakes, each with dedicated bikes lanes encircling at the edge. Once again, there was plenty of hill climbing. The countryside was a mix of jungle, mango orchards, casava farms and rubber plantations. We passed Buddha mountain, a huge outcropping of rock with a Buddha image just as huge marked on the side. First stop was a small coffee hut, see photos. This was about 30k into the ride. One of our group had too much to drink the previous night and begged for a brief respite. Super good coffee and the free bananas were just picked as we sat there. The varieties of bananas here are astounding. Well, our drinking friend had enough at this point and signed off as we headed off for our destination. Radar hill has some interesting climbs, steep in parts and generally long. On one descent I hit 50 kph and was still the last one off the hill. This is the fastest speed I've attained but the cheapo bike was stable, a smooth road for a change helped.

We took one more break on the way back at a lakeside resort. You can't bring all the fluids you need on these rides, stops for drinks are critical. After a 20 minute rest, we headed back into town, one rider after another peeling off to head to their home. No one has a car. We pick up riders en route and watch them split off on the way back. These people are true cyclists. Cycling has rapidly developed here with both the expats and the Thais. Road bikes are quickly replacing mountain bikes. I've seen some amazing riders both male and female. There must be a dozen cycling clubs in this province alone.

As for clubs, no fee to be paid, no waivers to be signed, just meet, go and have a good time. We use a messaging app called Line to communicate. Some clubs rely on Strava. 

I don't think I'm with an elite group but they are well conditioned and know the territory. I've seen some other small groups that looked faster and younger with some very expensive bikes. 

I haven't bonked yet. I only feel like bonking. Sweated until I was soaked this morning on the hill climbs. Heat and humidity are the challenge now.

Tomorrow the week begins again with more hill climbs. I'm beginning to like it. Once at the top, the view is spectacular. Hills are painful for sure but wow what a workout!

Ride on,

Mike in Thailand 

.........Read more from Mike below.........

The core of Jomtien Cycling Club

Typical food and drink stand in the jungle

The bikes on the Thai style rack

Smiling owners of the stand

2/12/23 - Ending The Week With 4 Rides.......And A shameless Plug For My Wooden Bikes

I joined the group 4 times this week and the number of participants is dropping fast. It may be the heat and humidity but some members are simply out of town for various reasons, mostly visa related. One cannot stay here indefinitely, there are complicated rules governing the length of one's stay. 

Tuesday included just me and the two hill climbers. These two guys seek out hills and the longer and steeper the climb the more they like it. This is not popular with the rest of the group who politely avoid joining in. For me it's not easy climbing but it is getting easier. At least I'm getting to the top without fear of a cardiac arrest. The views are always worth the effort. The descent is exhilarating. Once at the bottom it's up again five more times. 

Wednesday was a long distance ride with only three other people. No one knew this route except the Canadian, who I previously thought was a normal guy. The route turned out to be a long struggle with highway traffic, dodging motorbikes and breathing diesel fumes. With so many beautiful country roads around here, I couldn't fathom why this guy knowingly chose this route. Richard from the UK was so pissed he didn't stop for the break but rode on. The only redeeming feature of the ride was that we passed the elephant camp where I happily yielded the right of way to two huge pachyderms. It was also nice to have Jittawan on this ride. She is forever cheerful and always a fun person to ride with. Ahh, see photo.

Friday was another low participation day. Rinus and I nearly left the starting point when a stranger dressed like Captain America came out of the shadows. This was Phil from Roanoke Virginia, a burly, somewhat rotund American. Oh boy, what's this guy all about, can he keep up, will our training be ruined? Hey, appearances can be deceiving. Phil was strong and had the advantage of younger age, a mere 42. I think Rinus is 62 and I just collided with 70. That's why I'm afraid to stop pedaling. The ride was terrific. Phil burned up the hills and in no way slowed us down, a pleasant surprise to meet him. He plans on staying in Thailand for a full year, recording for his YouTube posts on his bicycling trips in Thailand. I gladly plugged my bamboo bicycles for his audience.

Sunday was hardly a group ride. Only me and Rinus. So we just went all over and made up the ride as we went. This included a long hill climb to nowhere, a long stretch of unpaved road with soft sand and a steep hill climb to an abandoned Buddhist temple, no monks, no temple dogs but a fantastic view of the countryside. These hills pop up all over Thailand and every one of them is crowned with a temple. Some are only accessible by a long stairway of hundreds of steps. This one had a narrow road of 15% grade, out of the saddle at fall over speed.

View from abandoned temple

Another group I've met here is the Juicy Girls Gang. Don't laugh. They dropped Phil who is faster than me. I'm not letting them humiliate me just yet. Some of the videos are quite good and show off the Thai landscape much better than my lackluster photos. Notice the expensive bikes and kits. They are commercially sponsored. My goal is to ride with them next year...if I live that long.  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100032848941786&mibextid=ZbWKwL

We stopped at Rinus's place on the way back. He has two units in a condominium complex, huge pool, security, gym, great location, the works. One unit is for sale at a mere 1.6 million baht. I know I could find one much cheaper but I told him I would post this information to SCBC. He thinks all Americans are rich. Hey, that's only 50,000 USD.

Ride on,

Mike in Thailand 

.........Read more from Mike below.........

Jittawan and Canada Dave


On the left is Phil (A/K/A Captain America) from Roanoke Virginia. He's keeping a podcast of his cycling adventures in Thailand.


 He shipped his Cannondale from home at some expense. Funny guy. We ride a good bit together here. Video of his bike shipment.


2/20/23 - Starting My Second Month Riding In Thailand

I'm well into my second month here with daily solo rides and 3-4 group rides a week. My solo rides are more for site seeing than training. Without the group dynamic I'm quite content with a slow pace and frequent stops. The main benefit of being here for a cyclist is perfect weather. It's rained only twice and then in the middle of the afternoon. No rides have been cancelled. Recently, the heat hasn't been too bad either, even a bit cool in the pre-dawn hour when we start our rides. 

This week was typical with the hill climbs on Tuesday, speed work at the track on Lake Mabprachan and a long, grueling ride into the country on Sunday. According to my fellow cyclists, I have improved quite a bit. They are too kind perhaps. I'm not sure if they are slowing down or I'm catching up. The gap is shorter on the hill climbs, that's certain. Occasionally, there is no gap if I really put some ass into it. Damn, those hills are painful. Ahh, heavy old bike, one beer too many last night, didn't sleep well. What's the formula for riding like Progacar? No excuses, train harder. 

The speed work at the lake went well. There's one big hill on the circuit and I surprised the crap out of them by pulling ahead at the top. They didn't let that happen again. Cyclists are a competitive bunch everywhere. As we finished off our last lap on the 10 km circuit, I tried again to pull ahead and thought I had them beat but alas, I kicked too soon, way too soon. My legs turned to jelly a half kilometer from the coffee shop and they gleefully passed me by. No defeat, at least I'm challenging them now and they'll know not to dismiss me. They have plateaued, I'm still climbing and learning new tricks.

The long ride on Sunday was tough going on the way out. Sometimes, a rider just feels tired and every hill looks like Mt. Everest. Maybe, a rest is called for. I go to the gym everyday and walk miles everyday without fail. A rest is forthcoming for sure.

Fortunately, a banana, three oatmeal cookies and a cup of Americano at Phufa Coffee house put some starch in my shorts. The ride back to town went much better. There was one long flat stretch where we held 35 kph for miles. It was like being in Sussex county again, but no hills and no elephants. 

That wraps up the week. The last ride was over 90 kilometers. So, I'm doing about 200 k a week. Not bad for a newbie. 

So about that rest I mentioned. My 45 day entry visa will expire Friday. I will check out of the Bamboo guesthouse, store my bike at the gym and fly to Indonesia, Bali more specifically. Once there, I'll travel to Ubud, Pemuteran Bay, Menjangang island and Sanur, a vacation within a vacation. I've booked 4 nights at Hai Homestay in Ubud, 45 dollars total. From there, I'll cross the island by bus to the north western shore for some free diving at a marine sanctuary on Menjangang island. Free diving is like scuba diving without tanks. I got certified up to the advanced level in Honduras and Thailand years back. Hope I can still breath hold for 5 minutes. Will the cycling help? Eleven days there then back to Jomtien and the cycle club. 

Attached are a few photos (see right panel) from Pattaya Hill, the hill climb torture test.

Take care all,

Mike in Thailand 

..........Read more from Mike below.........

View of Pattaya at dawn from bottom of hill

Staircase to the top

Starting the second climb

View from the top overlooking bay and Pattaya at dawn.

Entrance to temple at the summit

Friendly soi dogs. Street dogs, there are millions. Some not so friendly.  Hammer down.

2/26/23 - Short Ride Week In Thailand - Taking My "Mandatory" Recovery In Indonesia

Tuesday ride- Phil from Roanoke decided to join the hill climbs, so there were 4 of us meeting at 6:15 in darkness while the street dogs slept. Very few riders appreciate the benefits of climbing. It could be the quickest way of improving your overall condition. These are out of the saddle rides on the steep up hill and brake burners on the downhill. Phil burned the first hill but I think he regretted it with four more to go. It was his first ride to this area. Best to stay with the group if you're unfamiliar with the course. 

Here are a few photos (see right panel and below) from Pratamnak hill, the hill climb torture test. 

Wednesday ride- Only Richard and I met for this one and so we decided to make it long and scenic. We were on the bikes nearly until noon and did over 90 km but with frequent stops. Plenty of photo opportunities.

I had to forego the Friday and Sunday rides because of the expiring 45 day visa and travel plans. My Friday escape went off as planned, not the best flight and an awful schedule. I arrived in Bali airport at 1am. 

That's the end of the ride reports until I get back to Thailand.

I'm in Bali now with no plans to ride. This place is indescribable especially Ubud where I'm now staying. I'm in town center at a homestay that looks like a Hindu temple. I've seen a few cyclists but you would have to have nerves of steel to ride here. I'm sure it would be nice outside of town since this is one of the most beautiful places on earth, lush, tropical and now rainy. The motorbike traffic and poor, wet roads would make it extremely dangerous for cyclists. Three days here then off to Tulamben for some free diving. Coral reefs just off the beach with 70 meter dropoffs. I booked 5 days at a hotel on the beach for 20 bucks a night. Bintang beer is two bucks. Food is a little higher than I'm used to since Bali is an island. Dinner could cost 100,000 rupiahs or 8 dollars. I cashed a Ben Franklin today and became an instant millionaire.

Ride reports will continue after March 7. I joined the infamous PTT Chayaphruk group recently. True maniacs on two wheels. Time for some humiliation.


Mike in Bali, Indonesia

.........Read more from Mike Soon.........

 Richard, Rinus and Phil after the hill climb ride

Sunrise over Lake Wat Yang on Wednesday's ride

Karst and hills to where we ultimately rode.

Temple ..........like so many in Thailand

My new  Indonesian friend, Bintang

3/8/23 - Left Paradise (a/k/a Bali, Indonesia) and Back to Bicycling Paradise (a/k/a Jomtien, Thailand) 

Sorry for the quick bait and switch subject line.

Paradise (a/k/a Bali, Indonesia) 

I saw very few cyclists in perhaps the most fantastically beautiful land in the world. Not all things are perfect in paradise. The roads are treacherous with potholes, trenches, and non existent shoulders. Nevertheless, there were a few hardy souls willing to take on the challenge. I was not one of them. As far as cycling tours, I was told of one where the cyclists were ferried to the top of a mountain and then allowed to descend for 20 km. This was a mountain bike tour that required little pedaling but a lot of brake handling. Exhilarating, no doubt. 

So it seems that Bali is not a destination for cycling enthusiasts which is why I focused on diving. The diving in Tulamben was remarkable. I did what I like to call free free diving (my only equipment was a mask). With beautiful reefs and steep dropoffs just a few meters from the beach, there was no need for the services of the many dive companies. First day in Tulamben I queried the locals and soon pinpointed the best dive spots. Dive in and within minutes you're in a tropical aquarium!


Bicycling Paradise (a/k/a Jomtien, Thailand) 

After 11 days in Bali, I returned to Thailand which gave me an additional 45 day visa on arrival, no questions asked. Thailand like all tourist destinations is struggling to fill the hotels. One interesting point I'd like to make is that a large proportion of tourists are coming from Russia and a large proportion of them are young men, some with their wives and children. This is noticable in every country I've visited. The Russian exodus is on.

So from the wet, rainy southern hemisphere to the dry northern hemisphere was only four hours. My trusty, rusty Richart junk bike was waiting for me at the gym. I've contacted my cycling friends here to let them know I'm ready to roll. First ride will be speed work at the lake which usually totals about 70-80 km. By speed, I mean we cover the flats at 30 kph plus. Hah, you need to go metric my recalcitrant American friends. The king's foot is not a good metric. Phil, my friend from Roanoke, should have some updates on the other bike clubs in this area. He went out Sunday with the fast group of the PTT Chayaphruk club. I haven't heard from him since. Did he drop again this time? Can't wait to find out.

Here's a few photos from Bali, a truly wonderful place with truly friendly people.

Back in the saddle in Jomtien,


Rice terrace Ubud

 Hindu street ceremony in Ubud

 Traffic in Ubud and why I prefer to walk

Sunrise view from my 20 dollar a night hotel

Favorite dive spot at sunset in Tulamben 

Cormorants on the dive boat in Sanur

3/14/23 - Recovery Hangover After Being Off The Bike For 16 days 

Despite my efforts in Bali to maintain some semblance of fitness, the return to group cycling was painful. After only sixteen days of touring Bali without my bike, my peddling muscles went south as well. It wasn't until the following day after a 75 km ride up country that I realized how far south I went. Damn, I wish that guesthouse had a lift. So, that's my warning to my SCBC friends. If you've slacked off over the winter, that first ride is going to hurt. But only temporarily, each successive ride will be easier and maybe that long rest will do you good. After 3 group rides and 2 solos in 5 days, I'm feeling better than ever. 

I'm in the final days of my Thai cycling experience and my plans are to continue with the current group at Jomtien Cycling Club. I feel I have made some fast friends in that group who have helped me greatly over the past two months. This is a group with empathy and great experience who knows what it's like to have bad days. Why do I get all the flats? In the first week here, they commented that I was good at 24 km/h but that I tended to drop off at 27. Now, they're hitting 30-35 and can't drop me until we climb a steep hill. So, the persistence and training have paid off. Who knows what a nice bike would do for me? The Richarts wrecker is not a good climber but it is a good trainer. Add resistance to your training and save the aero, lightweight bike for important rides. Keep your eyes open for a 40 pound 10 speed Schwinn Sportster from the 1980's at a local garage sale. It'll be the best 10 bucks you'll ever spend. 

As far as the "fast" groups are concerned, I'll leave that hurdle for next year. Every rider I've talked to says they don't cut any slack and you have better be prepared for a drop. Are they dopes that are young or young that are doped? I know from the gym culture here that performance enhancing drugs are easily available. Walk into any pharmacy in Thailand and one can obtain over the counter a drug that would require a prescription in the States and certain pharmacies are known to have muscle building hormones and steroids. There is such a thing as getting too serious about an activity. Keep it real! 

So, instead of going that route, I may just invest a little money to upgrade my kit. A tight fitting jersey,  cycling gloves instead of weightlifting gloves and a good pair of cycling glasses or goggles would help tremendously. A better helmet will have to wait, so I'll continue using my skateboarding helmet until my return to Sussex. You are witnessing a transformation but don't be surprised to see me riding the beer trail in my flip flops this year. Some things cannot be compromised.

Lasting in Thailand,


Sidebar On The Fast Group

Phil aka Captain America has been steadily trying to ride with the younger, faster group. He doesn't seem to mind getting dropped. His weight is a big impediment especially on the hills.

 For an idea of how fast they ride, they posted this Sunday. Readouts on degree of slope, wattage, and speed. Breakneck!

Maybe I'll ride with them next year if I can bring a bike along. Depends on the airline.

No problem with the posting. You gotta be busy at the start of the season.


3/21/23 - Back To Riding With The Regulars

For over a week after my return from Bali, the air was thick with smoke. Farmers traditionally burn the stubble in their rice and sugar cane fields at this time. It's a practice that is widespread all over SE Asia. Sunsets that normally disappear gloriously under the horizon instead disappear red and angry behind the murky gray hovering above the horizon. Many of the local cyclists cancelled their rides. Many continue to cancel even after the smoke has cleared because now is the hot season. The temperature is creeping upward each day toward April, the hottest month.

Nevertheless, no one in our group has flagged or faltered. We did our climbs on Pratumnak hill, gasping much more than usual. A stop at the top each time was necessary to pull in some oxygen and cough out the smoke. Visibility was so diminished that none of the nearby islands could be seen for most of the week. 

By Friday, the air began to clear. Our best cyclists assembled at Timbo's restaurant at 6:15 and we picked up two others who were waiting along the way.  It's only 15 kilometers to the lake with the cycling track but we have to pass by several packs of stray dogs. Some times they just let us pass and other times we have to employ one of several strategies. Speed up and hope we can out pace them, kick them in the snout or bark back at them as if we are rabid. I usually bark wildly while accelerating to my max. Fortunately, they are not well fed. A diet of white rice and chicken bones does not make for a greyhound. We dropped 'em hard. The track work went well for me. I hit two goals: cresting the long hill at over 20 km/h and maintaining 30 km/h on the flats. They actually asked me to slow down for the first time. The hills are still the major challenge. I weighed the Richter Seeker that I'm riding on the gym scale. It weighs in at 15 kg. or 33 pounds. That's not exactly a bike built for climbing and I pay for it multiple times every week.

Sunday was an exceptional ride. We went to our usual Sunday destination at Phufa Coffee house but via a different route. They had to torture me with the hill that beats all hills in this area, about 3 km of steady climbing with several steep climbs along the way. Raymond kindly described the hill as we approached so I knew what to expect. I would drop into the small chainring, spin like crazy and watch them grind away into the distance. They waited for me at the next major intersection where I asked them, "When does the hill start?"

Phufa was a riot with riders from every bike club in the province. I couldn't believe all the expensive CF Aero bikes there. This is why I'm sticking to my group with it's no drop policy. These guys and some gals are doing 40 km/h on the flats and I would expect high average speeds of around 22 mph, maybe higher. I was able to tap into a video they made on that ride with speed, watts, and degree of incline displayed. They fly on the flats but flatten out on the climbs like mere mortals. Fast but no cigar. Put a thirty years old on a 5,000 dollar bike and of course they will be fast. 

The big challenge that day was the distance and the heat. We did about 95 km in 32 C temperatures. We passed through packs of mad dogs, herds of cattle and goats and remarkably beautiful countryside. Water bottles were emptied quickly and two long stops were needed to refuel. The sun never relented. It will get hotter and hotter until Songkran which is the water festival mid-April. 40 C is not unusual. That's over 100 F. Enjoy the lovely, cool Spring of Delaware on the coast.

Mike in Thailand

Riders at Phufa Coffee house in Ban Chang Rayong and their super bikes. Can you find Phil of Roanoke aka Captain America?

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