Mountain Biking Northern Thailand 2009

Sun, Sweat and Fun. Nikon D300, 10.5mm, 1/50 f/22, ISO 200.
I’ve just returned from 6 days of mountain biking in Northern Thailand near Chiang Mai. Again, we used the same guide, King Saksipong, and he was great. Although somewhere along the way, King seemed to think that we were pretty good mountain bikers and invited a few of Chiang Mai’s best mountain bikers to keep us company. Needless to say, I couldn’t keep up. Fortunately, I had an excuse. Laura, my wife, took a big spill on day one and it was up to me to keep her company as she brought up the rear.

Laura’s wounds are healed, but the bruises remain on day 6.

This time, the biking consisted of a lot more singletrack and ‘technical’ doubletrack. The conditions were very loose, brought on by the dry season. It was a bit unnerving to swoop down a section of smooth doubletrack only to hit a patch of deep sand and have the front wheel wash out suddenly, which is what happened to Laura. All our previous trips were at the end of the wet season, and we had to contend with mud then. King prefers mud to sand: He says it hurts less if you fall.

When an elephant blocks the path, it’s best not to get too close. Nikon D300, 18-200mm, 1/250 f/8, ISO 200.

Unlike Bangkok and Phuket, Chiang Mai is a little off the typical tourist’s itinerary and tends to be a bit quiet, although you wouldn’t think that if you took a walk along the night market! Prices for most things like food and accommodation tend to be a little lower than those cities, but catching up rapidly. The best time for biking or to visit is in the cool season from December through January.

A shopkeeper watches a tourist walk by at the night market in Chiang Mai. Nikon D300, 18-200mm, 1/60 f/4.8, ISO 1600.

There really isn’t much published riding information, and so the best way to find the trails is to hire a guide through one of the reputable companies or engage King directly: king_saksipong@hotmail.com

For more information, please see my earlier post Mountain Biking Northern Thailand.

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