Cycling in Northern Thailand: Day 5 – A Tough Ride: Steep Climbs, Rough Roads & Running Low on Supplies

Beep beep beep beep ⏰⏰ it was 4:20 am and the Alarm woke us after a night of camping on a dodge shelter, which resided on a patch of farmland we’d found to avoid the heavy rain and darkness the evening before. The plan was to get into the road before first light 5am in order to avoid running into the farmers who worked the land.

We packed the panniers and got over the locked fence we’d climbed through last night. The bikes had been left on the other side of the fence, so we racked the bags, had some snacks for breakfast, brushed our teeth and hit the road around 5am as it started to get light.

The day began with a steep dirt track with lots of pot holes, we continued uphill pushing the bikes when necessary for the first hour until pop we had our first puncture. To keep things interesting everything was soaked and the sand from the dirt track had clunk to the bikes. After getting the tire off I realised that the inner tube we’d been given by the bike shop didn’t fit the bike, it took a presta valve but we had been given tubes with a shrader valve 🤷🏻‍♂️. So I checked the tube and found the puncture and put a patch on it, put everything back together and off we went.

The hills and dirt tracks continued for hours and we eventually ran out of food and water. It was hot but we had cloud cover for a while which meant we weren’t sweating or losing water as fast. We eventually got to the top of the hills and had a nice downhill stretch followed by another steep climb on the other side. We pushed on to the next town on the map Ban Huai Pong Tak in the hope we’d find some supplies.

It was a steep climb into Ban Huai Pong Tak and on arrival we asked a few locals if there was a shop or restaurant in town but everyone pointed us towards the road heading back out of town. As we got towards the end of the town we found a young local guy who told us the only restaurant was in the next town which was another 21km, we asked about buying some water or drinks from him and took us to a little wooden building where an older gentleman had a few boxes of drinks and snacks, we purchased a bunch of snacks and drinks, then found a nice grassy patch for a picnic.

After topping up on snacks we continued the climb on the dirt track until we reached the 1349 road. Reaching the 1349 was a rewarding feeling as I knew based on the maps that the road conditions would be much better from now on. We then sped down the road into Ban Mae Daet Noi where we checked into the Budecha Homestay and had an early finish for the day.

A challenging day with a list of obstacles, it’s days like this that teach us that persistence is key and there is always light at the end of the tunnel, when you break up what appears to be an overwhelming challenge into smaller chunks it becomes achievable in our minds, and the feeling of overcoming these challenges is highly rewarding.

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