I’ve dispensed with the usual day by day account on this Thai mini mission, instead trying to capture the Thailand vibe in a 3 part mini series. So, for part 2 it was same same, but different to start with and then a whole new zone as we struck some ENDURO gold on day 2 & 3. Back to the action!
Part 2 – Act 1
Kicking off day 2 saw less commuting as we were already in the zone so to speak, but Damo had a whole new adventure lined up for us to savour, before heading back to town to taste some of the more well traveled trails. This allowed us some time for highly contrived photo posing which didn’t accurately reflect the riding we were doing at all…
Not to be outdone, the SwissMissile showed his respect for the village’s tranquility by sending it off anything he could find in the most garish top available, going full gangsta with the whole knee guards pulled down protocol.
We were still somewhere vaguely south west of Chiang Mai itself, in hills that are best described as insanely quiet, its pretty MF chilled out here, that’s for sure. Just mind the barbed wire fence…
We were somewhere up around the 1,000m mark, so in this zone it wasn’t like you’re in the high mountains, although that kind of gig is available on request. But these medium mountains were more than adequate for allowing us to get our pre-season freak on, plus, they had gigantic fucking leaves everywhere, which encouraged you to keep your focus, as fucks knows what was lurking underneath…
Speaking of lurking, this terrain was enticing the Hightower and its big wheels to do deviant shit, including something I usually personally frown on quite heavily… Guide slicing. Big bike, bigly momentum and bad decisions, yes, I was that kind of cunt:
Probably a good moment to provide an update on the love affair – Yes, the Hightower romance continues to blossom. Granted, its honeymoon phase still and we’ve only had a couple of dirty weekends (haven’t even finished a bottle of lube yet), but its pretty obvious that every time we hook up, crazy shit happens and we finish up in a giggling mess at the end. Fucken loves the outdoor remote location action as well just quietly…
Whilst I’m yet to do any comprehensive Nomad Vs Hightower back to back testing (Queenstown bike park trip anyone?), for now the HT is getting the nod for the upcoming Dirty Mega March shenanigans and its racing debut.
Back to the tire abuse at hand, Damo had hooked us up with a similar format to day 1: Ride a longer route, lunch it up and then scoot back up the hill to fingerbang the final DH again, a fairly solid approach getting to double tap the main run of the day. In this instance, it was another solid ripper too, rammed with variety. Allow the MF Montage to elaborate:
But the finale to this run was bursting out of the bush into what resembled a scene out of Platoon to be honest… One sandy as fuck river bed set up, guaranteed to trigger flashbacks to popping smoke, waiting for a Huey and hoping like fuck that Charlie didn’t snipe you from the jungle…
With this double up run about 8km’s or so in length, it was a pretty solid ENDURO flavour, a couple of pinch power climbs to keep the heart rate jacked so you were in the red when you got back into the fast stuff, it was absolutely putting the ‘training’ into the ‘camp’ and creating enough stoke that it had to be shared around in the requisite manner:
No bull, we were having so much fun we even had time to sit around and ignore the tranquility in this unique setting with the help of our zombie phones… First world in da house!
Part 2 – Act 2
So admittedly, on these out back Chiang Mai missions there a little bit of time to be had in the car… Whilst I don’t mind a good commute, I was feeling fairly chilled as we rolled back to Old Town HQ, which left me solidly on the fence when it came to wrapping up the day with a bonus run down our location for Day 3: Doi Suthep
We ultimately only ended up with 3 runs down what is pretty much DH HQ in Chiang Mai, one on day 2 and 2 on Day 3, so allow me to elaborate why and what we found.
Ultimately the SwissMissile’s infectious enthusiasm won me over on Day 2 and whilst I had visions of pool time overrun with Germans and a foot massage at Westerner prices, I ultimately cast my ballot for radness, completely in the dark of course how rad it was actually going to turn out to be…
It only took me about a quarter of the way down ‘Bamboo’ as its called to realise that A) This was excellent B) It was a lot more along the lines of what I thought we’d get in Chiang Mai and C) I wish I had been here for a full day. Granted, its not the raddest of trails on the hill, but its a local favourite allegedly and if you like long, fast and flowing trails then this will make you froth:
6km’s long dropping 957m at an average of -16% are pretty good numbers in anyone’s trail book, that’s about 14-16 minutes full gas given there are a couple of little climbs here and there, but the rest of the time you’re on flat out mode, not to mention wondering how fucking long is it as you continue to power down it. Hitting it as the sun is going down a solid option given temperature conditions were prime, much like the sweet sweet turns:
I’d decided to just cruise down given it was getting late and a slight amount of feline like conservatism was setting in. That inadvertently had the effect of meaning I was riding smoother than perhaps I normally would have… Result? Things started happening a lot faster than I had planned for and pretty soon, shit was warp speed and alarmingly fun:
Well HELLO Doi Suthep! Hitting this location had turned out to be as exciting as finding out that Instagram is the new home of soft porn. The kind of terrain that Daddy long legs just fucking gobbled up as well, I think the sign and the tick say it all:
Part 2 – Act 3
For our final Change Mai foray on day 3, it was back to a more familiar vibe for a Dirty ENDURO Mission – Shuttles on Doi Suthep. And quicker than you can fact check Lying Spice, that meant it was full face and goggs time. Suitable stoke and posing quickly ensued…
Not sure if it was the riding commute to get to ‘Gee’s trail’ from the drop off, or ‘first-run-itis’ or perhaps the trail itself, but Gee’s didn’t really get me that amped to be brutal and spoilt about it. I suspect that after the speed and giggling of Bamboo the day before, Gee’s was always going to feel like sloppy seconds. Not to say it didn’t have some cracking sections…
Gee’s was a different flavour from the day before, slightly more meandering, sprinkled with sections that forced you onto your toes, finished with plenty of pedalling to keep things honest and dare I say, a little ‘Training’ in nature. There was even the chance for Damo to catch a quick video clip here and there…
However, it was time for the pièce de résistance of not only Doi Suthep, but perhaps even the whole trip? We had been worded up that’ATV’ was considered the big dog on the hill, with rumours of rock gardens and general radness bringing joy to our ears and a sense of anticipation for the shred to come. And we were not disappointed! The top starts out with ripping speed, so much so that when you’re riding in blind you start to ‘regulate’ things a little, but fuck, its maaaaad fun.
As advertised, we then arrived at the rock gardens… Twins that is, not too far apart and whilst they weren’t that long, they definitely provided peak gnar for the trip, along with the added bonus of having leaves that pretended to be rocks and vice versa. Oh, plus its so wide you’re like “What fucken line?”
Interestingly, these two rocks gardens were the first time that the thought of “Hmmm, maybe 135mm of rear travel isn’t enough for my amateur as fuck ass” has crept into the edges of my mind.
Sure, they weren’t the most extreme of rock gardens per se, but its my first rocky experience of going from 165mm of coil goodness to 135mm of air shock, which was enough to half raise one eyebrow. I will be on full 145mm linkage stalker detail in NZ in March (FYI Iago and Mark – If I have allen keys in my hand, consider that intent).
The other theme of ATV was multiple choice – It offered plenty of lines for you to partake in, which when you’re trying to ride blind and fast, means its like trying to work out which way the ping pong ball is going to go when it pops out… Oh plus, fast and dusty:
The lower section is as much of a blast as the top, with fast lines, big deviating options and lots of rocks. I was a hairy ENDURO pig showering in shit and getting into the spirit of giving it some on this 6.6km DH which drops a solid 1,000m, which are numbers to never be sniffed at. It was so much fun I got to even experience some nasty Thai gash right before the climax of the run…
After much faffing in 30 deg heat, a bit of cardboard and the worlds slowest tube inserting on account of me trying to WhatsApp everyone about it, eventually we could gingerly push on.
Not a great 2017 run for Maxxis so far to be honest, thats 1 dead Aggressor (burped & torn casing) and one dead DHR II, clearly I may be staring down the barrel of DoubleDown casing full time. With borderline restraint I had to navigate out of ATV as daintily as my big wheeled froth monster would allow.:
With time getting squeezed and a rather dodgy looking haemorrhoid rear tire arrangement, the repeat run of Bamboo was called off, to much disappointment as I had wanted to pin that fucker and instead we sat around in a random food court drinking coke. Just like Italy but without pasta (yes, fuck that’s a stretch):
Before you could say “Is this fried rice mild because I’m an ex-pat who wants an experience without really having an experience” it was time to punch out of CM with some quality dirt miles under, and through, our tires. Kudos to Thapae Loft hotel for the banging wheels back to the airport.
I’ve already blasted out a longer than expected post here, so much for ‘mini’ series – Stay tuned for Part 3 where there will be moving pictures and a haphazard summary of tips and round up thoughts on Chiang Mai as a Dirty destination.