After all the running around and getting things ready, at long last the wheels started turning on what should be a pretty epic journey through some remote parts of Thailand and of course raising money to support the elephants in Mae Wang
With a Tuk Tuk loaded up with water, water and more water (and a tent just in case we don’t quite make it to a town or village) and a lovely send off in Mae Wang, we were joined for the first leg by a master cameraman (James de la Cloche – the best there is in Northern Thailand) who was doing some filming for us. Not being used to being filmed whilst cycling I enjoyed imagining I was in the Tour de Thailand (at the back obviously with the naughty kids smoking cigarettes) and the feeling became even more surreal as a helicopter started following us overhead – really, is there that little on TV these days….
Taking the back roads from Mae Wang was a great way to start the adventure. Winding roads, rice fields, beautiful villages and not a car in site allowing me to get into whatever sort of rhythm an unfit middle aged man in lycra ever gets into. Then, after a quick dash across a dual carriage way (saving 3km extra to get to a u-turn!) it was back to more winding roads through tiny villages heading South towards Li, the destination for the day. Joined by the wonderful Tony (one of the guides from The Tuk Tuk Club and a legend amongst travellers who’ve met him) for lunch (he’d jumped in his car and driven two hours just to wish me luck and share some noodles – awesome) and everything seemed quite easy. Even the weather was helping with clouds and relatively cool temperatures – 35C or so (well, that feels cool after the super hot weather we’ve had for the last week or so).
Lunch finished and the final leg of the day was a 75km stretch to the small town on Li. Stunning rolling roads, incredible Temples dotted along the mountains tops and very pretty villages lined the route distracting me from the slowly increasing temperatures (the high was 39C so pretty warm by the end of the day) and Noom (who runs the elephant home that we’re raising money for and is very kindly driving the support Tuk Tuk throughout the trip) did an outstanding job of making sure we stopped every hour to cool down, fill up with water and, importantly that we got the best roadside coffee on offer.
The final 15km of the day were a touch tortuous. Legs getting a little weary and after no wind all day, mother nature decided this was the perfect time to give me a brutal headwind – well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
We reach Li by around 4:30, found a great little place to stay and after a much needed ‘freshen up’ a huge feast in the local market was the perfect end to the day (for those Thai food buffs we had pork leg (stewed for hours and utterly fabulous), some sort of spicy fish, a cracking pork soup dish, pork on a stick and huge portions of rice. Followed by bags of sweets from 7-11!
Tomorrow looks like being a pretty exciting day. A few hills are in store and a great winding descent into the town of Thoen. Followed immediately by some pretty brutal climbs through the forest and a final rolling 30-40km into the small town of Thung Saliam. Or at least that’s what it looks like on the maps but I’ll soon find out.
Stats for the day
- Distance – 122km
- Elevation gain – 671m
- Max temperature – 39C
- Calories burned – 3,022
- Coffees drunk – 3 (including one of the coolest rural coffee shops I’ve ever come across!)
- Beers – 0
- Podcasts listened to – Geraint Thomas Cycling Club, far too much football chatter, Richard Herring
- Music – Twenty One Pilots, the ‘go-to’ whenever the legs are beginning to hurt…
- Cigarettes – I’m not telling…..