Thursday, 31 December 2009

Riding with the pack

As we rounded Chatujak Market, the sun began to rise and it felt like we were leaving the busy city streets behind us until I heard "Pshhhhhht". Suddenly it felt like I was pulling 30 coloured taxis along with my bike and realised it was time to change my first flat tyre.

Sucking in Bangkok traffic fumes at 6:30am was definitely not my ideal way to spend Boxing Day morning, but it was one I had to live with. While I got down to business, Chris and Gemma cycled ahead to meet the MTB Thai bicycle club team who were waiting to join us from Bangkok - Ayuthaya. I was proud of my turn-around time, and as I was putting the good-as-new tube back in a few of the Thai riders came to egg me on and show me to the place where our ride was to begin.

What was 15 riders to begin with, turned out to be around 35 total as we kept picking up others along the road to Ayuthaya. Cycling in a big group made navigating the traffic so much easier and there were plenty of different bikes/riders amongst the group, meaning the pace was well spread out. Chris (even with his 70kg of weight) managed to keep up with the speed demons at the front for most of the way, whereas I was happy to ride 'sabai sabai' towards the back of the pack, chatting in Thai as we meandered along.

Once out of the city we stopped at some markets which required you to bend down to pick up the items you wish to purchase and another where we watched a beautiful re-enactment of Thai life during the Ayuthaya period, acted out in the water.

At the end of the day we dropped in to see Ajarn (Teacher) Preechah, a Thai man who cycled to America from Bangkok 50 years ago to study. He is now in his 70's but still as fit and full of life as in his photos. He offered us a place to stay and some food saying ' I know what you bicyclists like - food, shower and a place to sleep' - exactly!

We said goodbye to the rest of the pack (who had to ride back to Bangkok) and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Ayuthaya ruins. Thanks very much to everyone who joined this ride and especially to Khun Thanin, who was instrumental in pulling the gorup together and organising such an interesting program. We are extrememely grateful!

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