Monday, December 18, 2006

Trail Update: PongDinDum

Location: Chonburi
Trail Type: XC

I nearly cancelled this trip due to very strong, gusty winds. But I've been out of my bike for a week. I waited for the sun to come up and around 7am decided to roll out.

No doubt about it, the winds were blowing so hard! I had to lean my bike towards the wind or else I'll topple over! The powerlines were whistling so loud I thought there was a low flying aircraft nearby. There was one time I was on a descent, I HAD to pedal against the wind just to go down. I wasn't even on the trail yet, around 20kms out. Wooohoo!! When I reached the trail entrance, I saw two gents who have just finished a loop. Looks like they brought their vehicles with them (a Fortuner and a Honda sedan). I thought they were done so I didn't stop to say hi and pushed on to the trail. I will find out later on that the guys went in for another loop. The weather was great, sun was out, not humid and very cool. It was not windy inside the trail, only at the peaks.

I wanted to try the counterclockwise route so that's exactly what I did. I've done the clockwise route many times so I had an idea on what to expect. I was not disappointed. Very long stretches of climbs and VERY gnarly drops. I had to chicken out of two descents. Alone and hurt in the midddle of nowhere didn't sound good at all. Good thing I did though. There are hidden ruts which you wouldn't see at the lip of the drop, impossible to read because of the bend, and requires pro-like reflexes.

The drops weren't as steep as I imagined but the loose rocks and 'surprise!' ruts should add to the challenge.

I didn't chicken out of the climbs though. I managed to hammer all the peaks.

At the top, what used to be lush and green pinapple fields turned out to be smoking and burnt. Burning season. Smoke and ash everywhere, I feld I was in Silent Hill. But the view was still great, winds almost breaking the tall and slender trees. Mountains on all sides. I saw a trail on a small hill that may be worth exploring.

The second half of the trip, downhill from the pineapple field was fast. You can just let it all go and navigate all the way down. I was almost tempted to bomb this but decided to play it safe - good call. There are some areas with deep sand which could mess your momentum, deep ruts cris-crossing the small drops and lots of loose fist-size and babyheads.

Summary: Clockwise route wins the fun factor hands down for me. I prefer the steep climbs and loong descents. But if you're looking for a good workout (stamina and bike handling), the counterclockwise route will not disappoint.

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