Stumbling across a poster in the middle of Pattaya, I found out that there will be an MTB XC competition on April 5, 2009. Googling for more info, finally got the PR spiel in ThaiMTB.com - link, and the main contact person is one Kh Supoj - 089-9914262.
So off I went with buddy FullOption to find out where it is, went for a ride and of course, will tell you about it.
How to get there:
The MTB XC competition will be held in a new track right beside the Pattaya Indoor Athletics Arena / Pattaya Public Park. If these places are not familiar, its because even these two places are relatively new, I checked off-the-shelf maps grabbed from popular bookstores and these would not indicate these locations. It is easy to find though.
To get there, if you are driving along Sukhumvit -- from South Pattaya / Sukhumvit Intersection, drive further South 3.9km and then turn left at Chaiyapruek 2 Road. Its about a couple kilometers to your left. The main indicator that you're there is a big parking lot and a public park at the left-hand side of the road.
The XC course is a relatively short 6 km loop. Competition organizers dictated that A-classes are required to do 5 loops while B-levels will do a more forgiving 3 loops. There are more detailed gradations to each classes obviously, and these rules may change at race days itself, so try to clarify during registration what the latest rule interpretations are.
To sum, this is a well designed MTB XC race course - not too technical but not too easy either. The course is ingeniously crafted around existing trails around villages while some sections were custom-built for the race itself.
Ground cover on most sections is fine, powdery sand, with a texture similar to baby powder. There are sections which are rather thick of the stuff, so as soon as you hit these parts, the sand sucks out all your momentum. It feels as if your bike become sluggish as a wet sponge. Choice of tires will be very important to breeze you through these sections.
Kudos to race designers on keeping a good mix of ascents and descents. The first third of the race course is flat, curvy and sandy. While the rest of the track is alternating between climbing up and cruising down. Gratefully, there are no sadist tendencies on the race organizers as they have kept the trail manageable. It still packs enough punch though to separate the pretenders from those with real brass XC cojones.
There are just a couple of sections worth mentioning in this trail. Obviously worth noting is that near the end of the race course, a mean downhill section is placed to make this trail memorable. My poor geodetic skills would put it as a 6-meter drop on a 45-degree decline. But with the descent just going straight thru and with plenty of run-out at the bottom, no need for Ned Overend's DH skills to get you over this one. Just make the resolve when you reach the brim, relax and enjoy the downhill rush.
Another difficult section is located somewhere during the 70% mark of the race course. It is a stretch where there is a long curving uphill section which hairpins out to a downhill stretch. Imo, this is one part which the race organizers can improve on. I am just imagining that on race day, there would be a glut of riders pushing their rides uphill - a few meters away, would be riders speeding down. Need some extra vigilance from the riders and race officials to prevent unpleasant situations from happening.
Long straight uphill. Gentle slope though. This is where a lot of passing could happen.
This section features singletrack, curvy, bit sandy.
Remember, April 5, 2009 Chaiyapruek 2, South Pattaya. Be there .. or be square.