So today was an epic flipping day. But man am I pooped. We went on the most stunning 240 km ride today to a climb called Chiang Dao. Griff planned the route and ride, and showed me some photos before hand so I was already so excited for it. Basically the ride was 80 km on the flats, and then around a 10km climb that goes alongside the mountain chiang dao, then about 150 kms of rolling hills back to Chiang Mai. The mountain Chiang Dao itself is like nothing else I'd ever seen. Basically it's a rock that protrudes out of the ground like a knob ahha, it's like sort of rectangular, and just incredible. There's tons of trees growing on it, and when we were there, mist was surrounding the mountains around us so it was just magical and eery, and oh so beautiful.
Okay so here's how the day started, I woke up at 3:30, packed food (cliff bar, cliff shots, gels, banana, and a taro bun), pumped my tires, then met the crew at 4. So we started with a solid group of 12 people (Anton, Alex, Vegard, Griff, Sam, Biggi, Manolo, Fab, Cleo, Josh, Jason, and me), and by the end of the ride there were 9 of us. Here's the story of our epic adventure. So because it was 4, we rode in the calm serenity of the twilight hours. We rode along the highway in twos, and just took turns drafting in the train. I rode with Fabiana for most of the ride to the climb, and she was such an awesome riding buddy. She's such a strong, solid, experienced rider, and just such a lovely person in general. The 50 kms on the highway went without a hitch (Besides Sam's flat), and we were just flying and eating up the kms. Then after an hour or so, we found a 7/11, and all stopped and basically had breakfast outside it haah. The guys got soy milk and buns, and I just ate the food I brought and a packet of baked bananas. But man, Cleo brought the best little goodie bag of food for the ride. He packed these massive pita bread jam sandwiches and brownies. And I tried some of the sandwich and instantly regretted not bringing that exact same thing ahah.
Then we carried on with full belly's ahha, and after around 50kms, we got off the highway and started riding along this road that was just surrounded by SO much lush forest. It was just so green, and the air was so fresh. After another 10 kms, we were truly just riding in the middle of nowhere, it was so rural, there were practically no cars, it was just absolute peace and solitude.
And off in the distance, mountains loomed all around us. The wispy clouds that were floating around them just made them look that much more majestic. There were also rice patty fields that stretched out as far as the eye could see, and truly just so much green and nature EVERYWHERE. We stopped quite a few times on our way out to the climb just for bathroom breaks, and to get more food. We were constantly needing more water, and more CARBS. I loved the strawberry juices, and these sesame biscuits that Jason bought us. Anton and Sam were smashing in the oreos, and Alex was just loving his rice cakes ahahah. He bought like 3 packets of them and just couldn't stop proclaiming his infatuation for them ahah.
Vegard left us pretty early into the ride to do this hectic like 300 km loop solo exploratory ride, because he's bad ass as fuck and has wanted to explore it for ages. So now we were down to 11.
SO after around 70 ish kms, we started to get closer to the climb, and after passing this gate, the climb officially started. And to ease us into the climb was a nice 25-30% gradient WALL. It was legit the steepest climb I've ever done, it was just fucked ahah. Even with my 40 cassete, I was snaking all over the road, and my front wheel kept lifting up cuz I was pulling so hard on the handle bars ahah. Just crazy. And after that wall, each climb was pretty just steep after steep after steep. Not as bad, but all over 10%. The climb was only like 10 kms but because it was so steep it was definitely pretty darn tough. During the climb there were some little spurts of localized rain, but nothing major, just enough to cool us down and refresh us. And man the entire climb we were riding with beautiful butterflies flittering all around us I felt like I was in a fairytale. We were surrounded by bamboo forests, and lush rainforest vegetation. And there was this one stretch that just opened up and presented us with the most epic view of the neighbouring mountain.
So because the climbs already tough AF just to finish, most of us just took it easy, but right when we started the climb Sam and Manolo darted off. They were going full gas, and going for the KOM. And after about 10 mins riding, we spotted Sam's handle bar bag, which he had obviously shedded to get rid of extra weight ahah. Once we got above the cloud level, it wasn't too long till we reached the top of the climb.
We just chilled out there, took selfies, and rested for awhile before heading back down. We took the descent super slow, since it was steep AF, and the road was kinda dodgey. But I think that descent was how my front brake pad got just totally worn out. After descending, I realized that my front brake was pretty much useless. When we stopped I had the guys check it out, and they said that my brake pads were entirely worn out. So we just released the brake, and I rode the rest of the ride with only my rear brake hah. So Biggi and Josh chickened out of the rest of the loop and just rode back on the highway that we came on, while the rest of us carried on with the loop. So now, we were only 9 riders strong ahah. The rest of the road home was all just rolling hills. And man I think we all underestimated the amount of climbing those rolling hills had. Our legs were all already pretty cooked, and everytime we saw a wall in the distance to climb, we'd be like: fuck.... ahaha.
And most of them just went on for ages. Everytime we rounded a corner we were like, please just go into a descent now, but nope up and up and up it continued ahah. But holy there were some downhills that were just way too much fun. They were such fast safe straight descents, and because we were in a big group, I just got the best draft from all the guys, and it just felt like I was flying/floating down these roads. And this entire time, we were once again in a train riding 2 by 2, taking turns on the front drafting each other. The entire ride home we had a massive headwind, so when you were on the front you had to push so much harder, and once your turn was over and you dropped off to the back of the train the difference was like night and day. It just felt like you honestly barely had to peddle, it was awesome. During the ride I rode beside all of them pretty much, we just kept switching around and it was awesome to get to chat with everyone.
I rode with Sam for this long stretch and it was probably our first proper chat ahha, I told him all about my life, and I heard about his life, cycling origins and what not. He also kept telling me I should start racing, and that my cycling would improve so much if I did. I would honestly love to, the only thing is, the descents would scare the crap out of me, so eeee I'm undecided but he's the second person to say that to me, so the idea is definitely bouncing around in my head hah.
It's also my first time really spending time with Manolo and Fab, and man they are just the coolest people. So DTE, so humble, so kind, and both such beasts on the bike.
Manolo is seriously like a machine, he did that climb with a 28 cassette.... like WHAT? He also took the most turns on the front out of all of us, and his legs are just like tree trunks. Just such a tank ahah. And man, by the time we were 210 kms in with 30 left to go, Fab and I were both too tired to continue taking turns on the front, so the guys just spoilt us, and took all the turns for us, bless their souls ahah. And what was super cool is that, this entire ride, we didn't get rained on. Well that is up until the last like 10 minutes of the ride ahah. It started pissing down on us right at the end, but I didn't mind at all because the end was in sight, and right after we got back, I just hopped in the shower anyways and washed away all the dirt and grime from the ride.
Here's a sick youtube video Alex made from footage of the ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1U9VFkm-pM&feature=youtu.be
It was around 4 by the time we got back, and after showering, eating 4 bananas and some weetbix, and changing it was time to go for dinner! It's Johnny and Michelle's last night here WAHHH, and so a big bunch of us went to Anchan for their goodbye dinner. But man, even though the ride to Anchan was legit like 1 km away, I was in struggle street ahah. Everything was so sore, my ass, my hands, my bike, and my LEGS. We were going so slow but I was like telling the guys to slow the fuck down still ahaha. I just felt sooo weak lol. Deffs NOT riding tmrw ahah. I ordered spicy tom yum noodle soup with extra noodles and extra rice. Then ended up finishing Johnny and Michelles eggplant red curry since it was too spicy for them hehe. I also had the rest of Emma's pad thai cuz she said she didn't have a huge appetite, and I was glad to help a friend in need :P.
When the gals arrived, I ran over and sat at their tables and just chatted with them and caught up with them ahah. It's so funny but I go one day without seeing them and I miss them so much ahah. So we also decided that we're gonna go to the sticky waterfalls tomorrow. There's a huge group of us going, I think 11, so it should be rowdy AF and super fun heeh. But yea, I mean it was just a beautiful night spent with beautiful people, and when it was time to say the final goodbye to Johnny and Michelle I got so nostalgic and emotional.
But I know I'll see them again at some future date. Then we rode home, I wrote my blog, had a bowl of oatmeal, then two bowls of mango banana fruit salad with weetbix and cereal.