Zero to Twenty-Four in Four Seconds - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 29, 2017

Zero to Twenty-Four in Four Seconds

Arunothai to Chai Prakan

Zero to Twenty-Four in Four Seconds

Arunothai to Chai Prakan 19 miles

We heard fireworks throughout the night which means that some people were up all night celebrating the arrival of Year of the Rooster - ironic because for the first morning of our trip I didn’t hear one rooster. They all must have been scared to death by the big booms and firecrackers lit thousands at a time.

With this many fireworks in such a small town you know the population must be mostly Chinese. Arunothai, Thailand
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Andrea and Coleen at the only restaurant we knew of in Arunothai.
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I always sniff the produce for freshness as I walk home too.
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Lots of Chinese New Year's attire displayed in the shops.
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We four ate our third meal at the same restaurant. Across the street we took a look at the still well-stocked fireworks store and then were off on our climb. The road (1340) was beautiful, the day was beautiful and it was fun traveling with Chris and Coleen. I don’t know if they were holding back for us but it was fun ambling down the road together. We all knew we wouldn’t be together for long because they were heading up to Doi Ang Khang and we were going to take a right at some point and go mostly down (hopefully) and end up the day in Chai Prakan back on the main road (107) which we had left back in Chiang Dao. Chris and Coleen were taking a much harder uphill route. I think Chris had been on that road before. I had only seen it on maps and I knew it was too much for us.

It doesn't get much better than this when cycling.
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As it was, all four of us did a lot of pushing before we parted ways. Fortunately we were mostly in the shade of trees which kept us pretty cool at that elevation. The forest/jungle was very beautiful and only cleared for crops here and there. It seemed that there was some sort of effort to preserve the wilderness. Because it was a holiday weekend the traffic was much heavier than normal, we guessed, but everyone seemed to be in festive moods and drove cautiously and courteously. There were very steep sections but I felt excited to be in such beauty. I knew that eventually we would have quite a downhill. There is always that nice thought when pushing pushing up.

Chris and Coleen did finally move ahead of us, out of sight, largely because we came upon a hairpin turn with a lot of pink blooming cherry trees that needed to be photographed. It looked just like spring time and we had to stop. A large group of young Thai motorcyclists had arrived before us and positioned all of their bikes in a row in front of the trees - a perfect spring photo op. We let them take a bunch of group photos and then we positioned our bikes at the end of their line of bikes for more photos. I didn’t get the impression they were thrilled that we were horning in on their party but Thai congeniality prevailed for us, the weird foreigners.

Cherry trees
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We caught up with Coleen and Chris at the crossroads where we would part ways. Lots of construction of buildings was going on at that crossroads. Thai tourists were lounging in restaurants and there was a general festive atmosphere. We said our good byes and each went our ways.

Our way followed a wonderful ridge for some time and then undulated but not quite as steep as had been. There were short stretches of steep hills and then we were treated to an amazing view of the mountains. Wild poinsettias lined the road and blazed brilliant red in the late afternoon sunlight.

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A beautiful spring day in northern Thailand.
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Lychee orchards
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Poinsettias everywhere
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Nearing the top.
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Then it was downhill at much more of a grade than anything we have ever experienced. It dropped so precipitously and the curves were so tight that we were prevented from having any sort of leisurely coast down. It was so steep it was a little terrifying and we had to stop every 50-100 meters to let our rims cool. We were very happy we hadn’t come up that way because the grades were so ridiculous that we wouldn’t have been able to even push our bikes up them. One time I wanted to see just how fast I would get to in a short time. I couldn’t believe it. In about 4 seconds I was going 24 mph and nearly crashed! It was impossible to not be braking hard the entire way down giving our brakes quite a workout. It took nearly two hours and to get down but despite having to stop often we were still losing altitude so quickly my ears were popping. Crazy!

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We are not fans of road grades such as these.
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Letting the rims cool again and again.
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Beautiful day - beautiful road.
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There are some orchards and other crops in amongst the forest but for the most part this does resemble something of a preserved wilderness area.
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Finally we were able to coast freely and enjoyably. The first store we breezed past we caught a glimpse of a Wall’s refrigerated case. Again we were braking hard, this time for ice cream. We figured we deserved it. As we sat on the curb eating our Cornettos I was trying to figure out what language was being spoken inside the store. It was the same language we had been hearing all day which I had thought was a hill tribe language but then it dawned on me that it was a Chinese dialect. We were still in Chinese KMT territory.

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Orange Trumpet vine or flamevine (pyrostegia venusta).
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Back on flat land but before hitting the main highway.
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We coasted through the small town and out the other end past lots of groves of lychee trees. When we got to the main highway it definitely felt as though we were entering back into Thailand after having been in little China. I had no idea such a divide of cultures existed in that part of Thailand.

We entered Chai Prakan just at the golden hour for finding night markets with “tray food.” My eyes were scanning hard as we rode and Andrea’s were looking for guest houses. We found the food stalls I was looking for and across the street Andrea saw a sign for a 24 hour guest house. Perfect. We got settled in a room and walked back for food before it was all gone. This sort of dinner seems to happen quite often for us in Thailand. It’s not only my favorite Thai food, it’s the cheapest. It’s so cheap that it encourages us to try foods new to us and invariably we end up with too much to eat. But we eat it because we are on bikes and have exerted a lot of energy all day.

A typical food scene which is repeated in most Thai towns every evening. Chai Prakan, Thailand
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We also nearly always find a large ripe papaya we can add to our breakfast bowls. We are spoiled for sure. But it’s not all fun and games. At our basic little guest house there were comings and goings all night and late into the night there were kids trying to raid the unlocked beer refrigerator outside and making lots of noise in the process. But being quite tired from pushing up steep hills we eventually left all those disturbances go. Dreams of floating over poinsettia covered hills inside papaya boats took over.

lovebruce

Today's ride: 19 miles (31 km)
Total: 1,726 miles (2,778 km)

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