The bike ride for the elephants of Mae Wang – an update before Bruce hits the road

Some of you may have read about The Tuk Tuk Club’s campaign to help the lovely small group of elephants who we visit on our adventures over the last month or so. To keep things short, the pandemic and resultant closure of Thailand to visitors has hit them hard and Bruce, the Founder of The Tuk Tuk Club is about to start cycling across Thailand for 2,300+km’s to raise enough money to look after the elephants – and their mahouts – for 3 months+!

Our target is to raise £16,000 (roughly 650,000THB) and amazingly we’re already at a fraction under £11,000 already – before Bruce has turned a pedal in anger (well, anger’s putting it a bit too far) – so we’re feeling tentatively confident that we’ll hit the target and perhaps even beat it, allowing us to support the elephants for even longer….

So, what’s been going on since Bruce dreamed up this slightly crazy idea and when is he actually going to get the wheels turning?

The elephants

Times continue to be very tough for the elephants and their mahouts but in good Northern style they are continuing to battle on and do their best and to not complain. It’s not easy but the knowledge that we’ve raised so much money already is providing some light at the end of the tunnel.

When is the ride starting?

Bruce’s initial plan was to start the ride between May 8th and May 12th and everything was set for those dates until COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head yet again. Unfortunately Thailand is in the middle of it’s worst ‘wave’ of the virus which has caused all sorts of chaos and challenges. Whilst numbers are still relatively low compared to many parts of the world, different provinces throughout the country have rolled out different precautionary measures to protect the public which makes the ride as much of a logistical challenge as a physical one!

As of today – 3rd May – some provinces along the route Bruce is planning to cycle are asking that no-one from outside the province stays overnight. Simple to do when travelling by car but trickier when averaging around 25kmh on a bicycle.

So it looks like there will be a delay of a few days to the start of the ride but we’ll keep everything updated on our Facebook page and hopefully the delay won’t be for too long. Bruce is itching to get started with the thinking that every second will be a second closer to completing the challenge – that is assuming he’s actually on the bike and moving forwards!

Training

Bruce is champing at the bit to get the ride started and has been out and about getting some km’s in his legs to try and be ready for the ride ahead. But at the same time he’s been taking the slightly optimistic approach of ‘I’m sure I’ll be fit by the end of the ride so I don’t want to do too much now and waste my energy! ’….we’ll see how that works for him! He’s looking forwards to updating from the road and to pretending he’s not in as much pain as we expect him to be in!

 

The weather

The good news is that it appears that the rainy season is arriving early this year in Thailand. That will take the edge of some of the temperatures (oh it’s too east then we hear you say!) and any rain will keep Bruce a little cooler, hide his sweat and allow him to pretend he’s sheltering under a tree when really he’s just exhausted. We love the rainy season anyway and perhaps mother nature is doing us a slight favour here

 

Rainy season skies….

Kit

One or two people might wonder what kit you need for a 2,300km bike ride over 20 days so we thought we’d share with you Bruce’s kit list (note – please don’t take this as the gospel for any adventures you’re heading on)

  • 2 x bike tops – wear one, wash one. And yes, we too are worried a little about how this might work by the end of the trip
  • 2 x cycling shorts – padding is key….
  • 2 x pairs of socks
  • 1 x t-shirt and 1 x shorts – for when not cycling
  • 1 x underwear – we’re hoping Bruce is going with the wear / wash daily routine here…
  • 1 x phone  / charger – for directions and watching Leeds United
  • 1 x Kindle – he reckons he’ll get some good reading done, we reckon he’ll be far too tired. Let’s see…
  • 3 x spare inner tubes and fancy gas inflating ‘things’. What happens after 3 punctures we’re not so sure but we’re sure to find out in future blogs
  • 1 x toothbrush
  • Several packets of Marlboro Lights

Bruce seems to think this will be enough to get him around the full trip! Thank goodness Thailand has great food wherever you go, incredibly hospitable people and a shower of some description is never too far away

Where is he going to stay?

This is something Bruce has been a bit coy about – not because there’s a Four Seasons at the end of every day but rather because he hasn’t quite worked it out. He claims it will be more exciting to not know where he’s going to sleep each night, give him something to think about each day when on the bike and make everything a little more adventurous We’ll have to see but overnight locations are bound to include the odd rural Temple, a few Guest Houses / Bed and Breakfasts and maybe the odd truck stop motel…

The route

Bruce seems to be as laissez faire about the exact route as he is about where he’s going to stay each night! Days 1 and 2 are planned in detail – Day 1 will take him from Mae Wang to a small town called Li in rural Lamphun province and Day 2 from Li to Tung Saliam in Sukhothai province. After than whilst he knows he’s heading East and the half way point is the distant Ubon Ratchathani, quite what roads are going to be taken is your guess as much as ours. For those of you who’ve travelled with or are thinking about travelling with The Tuk Tuk Club – don’t worry, this laissez-fair approach is the exact opposite to how Bruce works when planning our fantastic Tuk Tuk Adventures!

Some numbers for the ride ahead

  • Distance – 2,300km (assuming Bruce doesn’t get lost too often)
  • Number of different Provinces to cycle through – 17. Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Petchabun, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakam, Roi Et, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket, Surin, Buri Ram, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Phicit and Uttaradit
  • Average km’s per day – 121km (there’s 1 x ‘rest’ day planned on the route-the slacker!)
  • Estimated calories to be burned on the ride – 75,000 (or just under 300 Big Mac’s or more appropriately just under 400 pints of Tetley’s Bitter!)
  • Pedal strokes – +/- 500,000!
  • Litres of water to drink – 500+
  • Litres of beer to drink – to be confirmed…..
  • Number of times Bruce regrets the whole thing – expected to be at least 200, per day!

The most important people  of the whole ride / campaign

Foremost in our minds is that the reason for doing this ride is to raise enough money to support the elephants and their mahouts and, to repeat ourselves, we’ve been blown away but how generous The Tuk Tuk Club community, friends and family have been.

A huge thanks must go to everyone who’s donated to the cause and also to the words of support and encouragement Bruce has received. It really has been fantastic and we’ve been very moved by the kindness that’s out there even during these difficult times for the world.

We’re not at the target just yet – but will get there – but a big shout out to those below who’ve been incredibly helpful in getting us to this stage (of just under £11,000)

  • The every lovely Lynsey Devon at Heaven Publicity – a superstate if ever there was one
  • The Yorkshire Post – for a great write up about the campaign and helping get the word out there
  • Spice Roads – one of the very best cycling tour companies in Asia for some great cycling kit and advice
  • Travel Begins at 40 – for helping spread the word through their super travel newsletters
  • Go Beyond – always a huge support in everything The Tuk Tuk Club does and always leading the way in young people’s (and young at heart) travel in South East Asia and beyond
  • GAP 360 – one of the original and very best GAP year travel companies based in the UK. Hugely supportive as ever
  • Paul Rock Bike Maintenance – the best bike mechanic in North Yorkshire and our source of all advice bike wise!
  • The staff at all of The Tuk Tuk Club’s global sales partners who’ve given so much encouragement and support – it really is appreciated

And, as important (or even more!), the biggest thanks go to each and every individual who has been kind enough to send money to the Just Giving funding site to help the elephants. This blog isn’t long enough to list you all but we, and the elephants, appreciate every single penny. THANK YOU

Next steps

All that’s left really is for Bruce to get on the road, to get this ride started and to hit that fundraising target. Whilst we’re a bit at the mercy of the current COVID-19 situation in Thailand, as soon as the window opens Bruce will be off ad blogging daily for all to follow his progress. We’ll keep everything updated through The Tuk Tuk Club’s Facebook and Instagram pages and, of course through The Tuk Tuk Club website

And if you’ve not yet managed to make a donation to support the elephants then don’t worry – there’s plenty of time and it’s simple to do through our Crowdfunding page

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