Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 2008 - Tam Pra Toon

First trail i hit in this comeback is the good ole' lovable Tam Pratoon. Better start with something familiar to shake off my rusty legs.

By coincidence, its been exactly a year from the last time i rode in this trail. You may reference the very first write-up i made to compare the changes ... August 2006 writeup

The trail is still there alright. But it looks slightly different from a year ago.

I would say its more rugged and has a mean streak to it now. It does not seem to be as well-maintained as in the past.

Recent rains during the past few months have made the trail lush and weedy. Heavy undergrowth thrive on both sides of the trail making the trail very narrow.

Aside from the narrow trail, the rains have left deep gashes and rain ruts over 70% of the trail. Due to my long lay-off, i chickened on every rain rut i see causing me to stop and drag my bike. My buddy, FullOption, nearly rear-ended me on a couple of occasions. I am sure for advanced riders, the rain ruts would make the trail more interesting, instead of exasperating.

There were a number of fallen logs - there must have been 5 or 6 points in which the trail was blocked.

Also, the trail signs tacked to trees had been removed. For those unfamiliar with the trail, it is very very easy to get lost.

We were joined by a group from Sriracha who decided to draft us. They got lost a couple of times due to the lack of signs and the numerous forks in the trail.

On the third ascent, this is always the point where i get off my bike, swear a few times and then push the bike uphill - added technical challenge to the uphill climb -- deep ruts are on both sides of the incline. Not only must you grind it out, but you have to watch where you're going as well.


It is still a mean trail offering ample technical challenges, good distance and many opportunities to commune with nature. I know i did. I stopped so many times to drink water and catch my breath that i had many chances to look at the scenery, peacefully commune with nature and ask the question many bikers find themselves asking on occasions, "What the hell am I doing here?".

As I was driving away from the place, I kept on thinking ... "I can't wait to go back ...".


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spinervals got me going

Following my resolve to get in shape after being a couch potato for so long in Bangkok, i initially thought of riding my bicycle to work.

Since my apartment is just seven kilometers away from the factory, I was smugly thinking whether I would even break out a sweat at such a short commute.

Not even five minutes out on the road, I:
a) had to dodge an early morning noodle shop mugging the whole sidewalk
b) was nearly ran over by a motorcycle, and
c) was nearly squished by ten-wheeler trucks loaded with 40" containers bouncing along the potmarked asphalt roads.

I did break out in a sweat, cold sweat, that is but not from the exercise, but from fear of becoming roadkill.

Mind you, most of Thailand is not like this, but luckily, I live right beside the busy industrial seaport of Laem Chabang. Thousands of container lorries coming from hundreds of kilometers away make a beeline to the port. Most of the drivers may have been driving for hours and are just getting along on Red Bull fumes, and therefore, might be too groggy and too tired to notice a struggling lone biker like me.

That was when I decided to my do exercising on a trainer at the safety of my single bedroom apartment. My problem is, for me, pedalling on a trainer is just about exciting as holding my breath. I feel like my head is going to explode for every second that ticks by. Its simply tedious. Talk about time dilation effect.

A search in Google led me to the Spinervals website. With a corny teaser like this:

"You have taken the first step toward becoming a better cyclist. Your interest in Spinervals cycling videos shows a sincere desire to improve your pedal power. This desire, fueled by the know-how and training intensity contained in each Spinervals video workout will have you smoking your friends on the road and trail in no time!"

... im hooked. I liked the smoking your friends part. Somehow, I am the one the gets the smoked part.

Anyway, two weeks of trainer work using the Spinerval videos got me feeling decent about myself again. Will hit the trails this Saturday. Tam Pra Toon!