Extreme Mountain Biking
01.03.2006 28 °C
Well, it's Wedneday evening here in Chiang Mai and I had to write this blog befoe I forget what a truely hair raising day I had today.
It began yesterday, during the Thai cooking course. We had a full day of preparing, cooking and eating 5 delicious Thai meals all in this little Teak house just down the road from where I was staying. We had a really nice group of people including an Austrian girl called Mooni who I got chatting to whilst we were making Thai Red Curry.
I was deliberating about whether to go for a trek or whether to go mountain biking, or both. I really fancied giving the mountain biking a go and she said that she'd come with me, so after the course we went to book a tour. There were a number of different rides to choose from and we fancied the Himalayan as it looked a bit more adventurous then some of the others and yet it said it was OK for beginners which I clearly am seeing as I've not ridden a bike for years.
Anyway, after speaking to the bloke that organises the tour he said they weren't doing that one at the moment for safety reasons (!) and so we chose the Highlander. Pick up is at 9:30am and they provide all the equipment including body armour...
So, this morning I climbed into the truck with Mooni and met a Scottish couple (Fran and Paul) and an English guy (Simon). Fran was saying how nervous she was despite being quite a keen cyclist and having a mountain bike back home. Simon then started to inform us how difficult the terrain was where we were going and showed us all his cuts and bruises from 2 day ago. This is when I started to worry too.
When we arrived at out starting point, high in the mountains (about 4000 feet up) I really started to panic when they got all the safety equipement out. We had helmets, elbow guards, lower leg and knee guards and chest plates.... We looked like American football players when we had all the gear on!!
When I eventually got on the bike I really really started to worry - it seems I have become some sort a bike riding spastic for want of a better word. It was the most difficult bike to ride EVER. It only had about 18 gears but as soon as I started riding I knew that I'd only be using 1 gear and the brakes.
We set off and on the road it wasn't too bad and I started to feel a bit more comfortable. Until of course we broke off onto the dirt roads and that's where the touble really started. The roads we went along were too treacherous to walk along, never mind ride a bloody bike across. I fell off instantly.
Our guide was very nice but mostly he shot off into the distance with Paul and Mooni (who I later found out does loads of mountain biking at home) and so it left Fran and I riding at what I felt was break neck speed through the jungle and twisty turny mountain roads but in reality I'm sure my granny could have ridden faster....
It took us about 4 hours to get down the mountain and it was the most scary yet exciting day I've had. It was mostly downhill which made it more difficult (you'd be surprised!) because the whole time you had to stand up and lean back and apply the brakes (mostly me doing that as I didn't want to go too fast down a rocky mountain track with a sheer drop on one side). It was really really bumpy with treet roots and boulders all the way down and really steep.
Luckily I wasn't the only person to fall off although I'm sure their falls were far more spectacular than mine given the speeds they were riding at!
At the end, our guide said that it was a medium level course that he'd taken us on so I was quite pleased that it wasn't the novice track but more pleased to be off the bike!
We all decided that it was definitely Extreme Danger Mountain Biking!
Well, at least I did it. I have sore thighs (from standing up on the bike) and sore shoulders and arms from tensing so much all the way down! Some sort of massage is in order but that will have to wait until tomorrow night, as I have a full day of trekking tomorrow - just call me Action Woman!!