NOTE: I’m writing this at 5am on the morning of Day 3 (why oh why so early aargh) with a cup of Yorkshire Tea in hand. No better way to start the day!
A very civilised start to the day with coffee and croissants (channelling my inner Tour de France!) before heading off towards the goal for the day, the small town of Thung Saliam in Sukhothai province.
The legs took a little while to get going this morning with even the smallest hill feeling like a huge Alpine climb but eventually the body woke up and was rewarded with a wonderful winding descent through forests, past lakes and through tiny little villages. Absolutely stunning – although I’m already a little worried that in 17 days time I have to head back up this particular hill (perhaps some re-routing is in order!) – and we arrived in Thoen, the planned lunch stop well ahead of schedule at around 10:30. Yes, perhaps a little early for lunch for you can never have too much food or at least that’s what I’ve been told by more experienced cyclists.
Fantastic food at a tiny roadside restaurant with an ex-chef from The Oriental in Bangkok in the kitchen (there’s a story there I’m sure) and then a great chat with an old chap intrigued by what I’m up to finally resulting in him offering me a bag of marijuana claiming it will make the ride a whole lot easier. In the words of all great tabloid reporters ‘I made my excuses an left’ and whilst he may have been right I’m pretty sure had I taken him up on the offer I’d still be snoozing by the roadside somewhere convinced I was writing a literary masterpiece.
Leaving Thoen with a false sense of confidence (at this stage I’m thinking ‘oh this is so easy!’) the clouds parted, the temperature rocketed and the road suddenly kicked up – it’s amazing how quickly ‘oh this is so easy’ can become ‘oh my god, what am I doing!’. Noom rightly scooted off to the top of the hill (mountain??!!) in the Tuk Tuk to let me grumble and sweat in solitude and eventually I realised one can smile as I saw him with ice cold towels, water bottles and a big grin at the summit. And bizarrely I felt good (well, all things are relative). Somehow this first proper climb helped get me into the groove and remind me that a lot of this cycling lark is in the head – get into a rhythm (even a very very slow one) and before you know it you’re at the top / at the destination / curled up in a ball wondering why on earth you’re not travelling by car.
Another fantastic winding descent through the forest and then one of the prettiest roads I’ve been along for a long time. Pretty villages, flowers everywhere, big roadside trees (than you to whoever planted the trees to keep me cool). Truly stunning and a real sense of peace everywhere. One of those parts of the world where it feels like whatever rubbish is going on elsewhere doesn’t really matter.
Noom had zoomed ahead again and after around an hour I spot the Tuk Tuk pulled up under a tree and there he is holding out a cup of freshly brewed coffee – yes, he’s even packed a little gas cooked so he can make cracking coffee wherever we are, what a legend.
The last leg of the day took us through more pretty villages with very cool rocky outcrops (not sure how else to describe them!) making everything look incredibly exotic and keeping my mind off the tiring legs.
One slight mis-hap. So ‘in the zone’ that instead of stopping in Thung Saliam we sail through (well, amble) and don’t realise for 5km necessitating a u-turn and 5km back up the road just cycled. Weirdly this was by far the hardest 5km to date even through it’s flat as a pancake I guess showing just how much the mind is going to be part of this whole challenge. But, the first time I’ve ever ridden back to back 100km days and not as bad as it could have been (read into that what you will). 10% of the ride done and by the end of tomorrow less than 2,000km to go!
On arrival we found a fantastic small family guest house – cue sympathetic smiles and shakes of head when they hear where we are heading – and a wonderful Isaan roadside meal to replace all that lost energy. Thung Saliam really is a lovely small town with mountains in the distance, a great little market, friendly people, good food and unbelievable clean. Highly recommended for a visit.
Early night – although Noom will have been up until the early hours watching his beloved Man Utd lose (sorry Noom but, ha ha ha ha ha) – and ready for stage 3. Another 120km ending up in a village I’ve never heard of that hopefully has somewhere to stay.
And important news – lots of donations to support the elephants are flowing in and we’ve now raised over £12,000 towards the target of £16,000. Incredible, and huge thanks to everyone showing such generosity during such difficult times around the world. And here’s the link for the JustGiving page for the elephants
Stats for the day
- Distance – 122km
- Elevation gain – 911m
- Max temperature in the day – 40C
- Calories burned – 2,982
- Coffees drunk – 4 (including a freshly brewed treat from Noom, awesome)
- Beers – 0 (still!)
- Podcasts listened to – Peter Crouch Podcast, lots of political rubbish and Tailenders
- Music – Queen – who knows why
- Cigarettes – still not telling but more than 1……