Monday, August 28, 2006

Trail Review: Chonburi, Pattaya -- Phra Tamnak Hill

Short downhill and Cross Country XC trail right in the heart of Pattaya

Make it a weekend with your family and friends in Pattaya. This mountain bike course is right smack in the middle of the Phra Tamnak Hill, jutting at the foot of South Pattaya.

Postcard-perfect! Perfect view of whole city of Pattaya and the bay area.

Trip Value
Coffee served from a converted Kombi at the hilltop, a Wat, and a monument to a great Thai Admiral can be found at the top of the hill. This is one of the rare instances where you could bring your beloved half, make a quick offering at the Temple and let her sip coffee and enjoy the view. Just dont let her look at the downhill course or you may get grounded for weeks.

The Trails
There are 2 courses in the hill, and i tell you there is a Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde aspect to these course. One is a winding XC on well-paved footpaths. Very gentle and civilized. You could bring the family along on this course. Cruise along, take pictures ... sit on the benches, even have a picnic.

The other course is a short downhill, but very mean and nasty. This is the Mr Hyde part. I will not recommend this trail for beginners or the occassional weekend warrior. Highly technical and competition level -- only for advanced riders please. The jump-off is a small platform right behind the coffee shop. For this downhill course, that is all you need to know as everything will go rushing past anyway. Anything I describe will be just a blur to you after the jump-off. Seriously though, I suggest you scout the course first on foot and go through the lines to get past the various obstacles. There will be lots of air and jumps on this course.

Firstly, before attempting to take the downhill course, bring protective gear and bring ALL of it. Full-face helmet, body armor, arm and shin guards, heck, if you can find your grandpappy's old flak jacket from WWII, then bring it as well. The mountain bike gurus always say, "dress for the crash and not the ride", then on this course, dress for a HUGE crash.

The downhill course cuts into public pathways at two points. Always keep this in mind especially on crowded weekends. You will find yourself landing right in smack of the public pathway before continuing onto the other side. Best that you dont get surprised by this, or worse, surprise a wobbling retiree out on his daily stroll.

Mind the picture on the left -- this was taken on a ledge about a meter high from the pathway and straight into a long stair. As you approach the ledge, prepare to get some air beneath you. You will land on the footpath and straight onto a flight of stairs.

Very short and very fast. You are at the bottom before you know it.

The only way up is via the front road uphill. It is a long grind. To keep you motivated, think of the hot steaming coffee with the spectacular view at the top. Or, another round of high-adrenalin professional level downhill run.

Fitness Level / Technical Skills
Minimal. The XC on the paved footpaths are easy and quite flat. Not much work there. Anyone can ride this course, as everywhere its smooth and cultured.

On the downhill trail, gravity does the work anyway. No requirement to be fit. The course could be fitness 'optional' but technical skill - mandatory. No place for beginners, only advanced riders please.

How to Get There
Go straight to Pattaya. Cruise past Pattaya South road until you reach Tepprasit Rd. This is the one leading to Jomtien Beach. Head into Tepprasit and turn right at the end of the road -- left goes to Jomtien, while the right goes to Phra Tamnak Hill. Watch out Phra Tamnak Rd on the left side. Follow this road and it will lead you to a police pillbox. At this point you should see a steep uphill road leading to the Wat. Drive uphill and you will come across a small clearing to park your car.


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