MAE HONG SON LOOP ONE DAY SCOOTER CHALLENGE Well, this is going to be a bit of an odd ride report. It’s been a while since I have written any kind of ride report due to Covid-19. I have been out on rides of course, but local rides and nothing really worthy of a blog/trip post. For those rides, I focused more on just posting up YouTube videos. So, let’s get to this scooter challenge… A few days ago in a local group, a rider posted up about wanting to take on a Mae Hong Son Loop one day scooter challenge. The Mae Hong Son Loop is northern Thailands most famous loop and is considered to be one of the world’s best motorcycle routes. The classic version of this loop is around 600kms which reportedly has 1864 curves (with 765 of those concentrated on the 100km Pai mountain route stretch). Where the challenge originated – The first documented MHS scooter challenge that I know of is back in 2003 on the GT.Rider Forum, which David Unkovich (the GT.Rider) then arranged again in 2010. Lots of fun and makes for some really fun reading. (Links to these ride reports below - if it is NOT ok to post these links, please let me know and I will delete them! Please don't boot me off the forum ^^). GT.Rider Scooter Challenge in 2003 (photos courtesy of GT.Rider): This fun ride HERE GT.Rider Scooter Challenge in 2010 (photos courtesy of GT.Rider): This fun group ride HERE My ride on Saturday (May 22nd 2021) – Despite saying I would never ride a big ride on a scooter again (following a bad accident many years ago), once I saw the post suggesting a scooter ride and saw that another rider was willing to take up the gauntlet too, I decided that I would go for it and join in. Keep in mind this period is also Monsoon Season in Northern Thailand, with temperatures reaching around 38-degree celsius. So, there was every chance of rain despite it being the start of the season and every chance of it being extremely hot! Nutters! Haha! The bike I chose to ride – Honda Click 125i was my ride. I had a bit of a frantic Thursday prior to the ride on Saturday (as it was the only time I had available to source a bike). At first Mark from Mango Bikes kindly offered me a bike (for free!), but then his mechanic was hesitant about what the bike was going to be used for. I totally understand this. If you are going to be taking on a challenge like this, it is important to be upfront with the rental company you will be borrowing from. Ying at Mr Mechanic came through with a Honda Click 125i and took me along to the main garage to talk with their mechanic. I explained what I planned to do and they helped me work out the best bike choice with the mechanic saying he would go over the bike before I picked it up on Friday. I picked up the bike on Friday before their shop closed and then packed up the bike with a few snacks and coconut water (electrolytes!). At around 11 pm I headed to bed in the hope of sleeping. By 1 am I was still hoping to sleep and by 5 am I was wide awake after a poor sleep (not unexpected. Happens every time before a big ride. I am sure most riders can relate). On the morning of the ride – From the get-go, things took an unexpected turn… Three of us were planning to ride this challenge. Confirmations were made the night before. We would meet by 5.55 am. Stands up at 6 am and off. Except I ended up being the only person waiting at the planned meet point! Turned out that the organiser had taken off before 5 am. That in turn made the other rider take off early (which I did not realise at the time). I messaged the group saying I would wait until the agreed time at the agreed location. Let’s just say it was a little irritating to start off my ride in this way. Moving on… The Route – An anti-clockwise loop starting from The Mellowship Jazz Club. The Ride – At 6 am there wasn’t much traffic and thankfully not overly hot. I wore my Inuteq Dry Cool vest which had been cooling in the fridge overnight, so that helped too. In a small bag at the front of the scooter, I packed an ice bucket with ice and a cloth (clip of this HERE), which I knew would come in handy for soaking myself down on the ride. The first leg is boring highway, so all I could do is chug along until I got on the R1095 Pai route. The Pai route was a little wet in areas and so a little slippery. Being on a rental bike that I was unfamiliar with had me riding with caution. Plus, I didn’t want another scooter accident. This ride, despite the fearful beginning, was actually good for chasing away a few demons from my past as I eased into how the bike responded. (The bike I rode for several years back in 2010 for trips and tours around Northern Thailand was a Yamaha Fino 115cc scooter. It served me well until a bad day almost cost me my life). By the time I reached Pai it was 8:30 am and I was kicking myself for going into Pai town, using the main garage instead of the one on the outskirts. The garage was busy and I could feel the clock ticking. Given that I had to wait in line I got my phone out and sent a message to the rider group chat saying where I was and wishing the guys good luck. The previous messages from earlier in the morning had been unread, so I wondered that they might not check their phones on this ride until after the ride is over. I got filled up and rode through Pai town seeing as I was already there (quiet at this time, but restaurants were open), then headed off to Mae Hong Son. By 10 am I arrived in Mae Hong Son and decided I may as well turn on my GoPro. I had been hoping for a neck-and-neck style group ride to record, but the guys had a head start, so the chances were slim. I figured I should just enjoy the ride for what it was: A solo ride challenge. After Mae Hong Son the route (the classic route) is not my bag. It is long sweeping curves that are arduous on a smaller bike. I prefer the Khun Yuam – Mae Chaem route (or even better, the R4009). It was beginning to heat up and I felt a bit of irritation creeping in that I didn’t have an extra hour of coolness (it would have been my preference to ride earlier, but I stuck to the plan…). Tally ho! During the ride I stopped briefly at intervals to freshen up, with just one longer rest and cool down at the pretty Bo Kaeo Pine Tree Garden. I had 5 fuel stops. The original Relive ride is here (I forgot to turn off the app, but as you can see from the photo at the end, the time stamp shows 9 hours and 22 minutes. It took me a bit of time to get my phone out of the bubble wrap envelope under the seat. The bike clock showed 9 hours and 20 minutes when I came to a stop). Things I wish I had done differently? I wish I had treated it more as a race, actually. Despite this being announced as not the agenda, it clearly was. I could have skimmed more time off the ride. In particular, I wish I didn’t somehow get disorientated after Ob Luang which caused me to get off my bike twice and open up the seat to get out my phone to check google maps. Why I had this disorientation? I have no idea. I suppose the heat maybe? Talking of heat. I wish I had set off earlier. Nonetheless, it’s all good. In the end this stuff only comes across as excuses, so I will leave it at that. Video – Given that I had nothing to show except me uneventfully riding the Mae Hong Son Loop on a scooter (which isn’t a lot of fun to edit or watch as a viewer), I decided to put this video together using the Relive app and my GoPro footage. An unedited snip of the ride is HERE. Lengthier unedited footage from my GoPro (starting from Mae Hong Son until the SD card is Full) Was a good ride.