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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cro59, Dec 15, 2018.
I’m a giant at 6’7. Anything smaller is a Shriner bike for me
My experience riding around Northern Thailand is once you get out of the cities there's not much traffic with fantastic roads, I was on a rented CX500 X and riders on GS BMW'S were passing me like I was standing still
I love my 650 Versys in the twisties. I prefer my Triumph 800 for the extra power and comfort when 2 up. I’m looking at a CRF250 for fun and a Honda wave to go to the market. Just throw your leg over something and get out there. The bike doesn’t care
we rode around Thailand n laos for 110 days on our little Yami fz150 n had a blast, learned from the scooter club, you can have fun on any 2 wheel moto. My first two wheeler was a 125 lambretta, about 1963-64,just forgot.
As for getting passed, on the mountains out of Nan along the Laos border we got passed by a girl with one hand full of groceries n one hand on the gas, great mountain ridge ride, no shoulder, just steep mountainside.
Like most “What’s the best bike?” threads, it comes down to the fact that there is no perfect. Just go ride.
It pays to have a selection of bikes... My preferred bike for Laos is my old 2005 KTM 525 EXC - but I can't have it here in Thailand now. I'd love to have my KTM Super Enduro here too.... but again, it would be prohibitively expensive to bring it back. My compromises are the DRZs for the dirt and the Ducati for the tar runs. A lot of the guys who ride tar here ride Versys, CB500X etc. My Ducati on the right.. a 2007 Multistrada 1100S. It's great.
I just got messaged a few minutes back by a Spanish couple in Laos on one of my DRZs - they are loving it, want to stay longer. A German couple had it and one of the CRFs there over Christmas too. He is a former motorcycling journalist and raved about how good it was in Laos. They did the Mae Hong Son loop on the DRZ / CRF combo and he said it was the best ride he'd ever done... anywhere.
Rain yesterday and a quick run up Doi Suthep today. Enough lounging around Chiang Mai, I’m itching to ride. Heading out on the Mae Hong Son loop tomorrow on the CRF.
What a beautiful girl. I luved my "D" model and the lateral vibes...yeah, I'm an oldie.
Mae Hong Son Loop, Day 1: Stealth Camping
Well, at least I know where I am. Finally.
I’m sitting in the jungle, just off a trail that I’m 99% certain will take me to Road 2066. It’s 10:00 PM, all I have for dinner is a bag of peanuts, one Cuban cigar, and a bottle of Thai soju. I might have enough gas to make it to Mae La Noi, but I’m really not sure. My plan was to spend the night in a hotel off of Highway 108, but honestly this will do just fine. Glad I brought my camping gear.
I left Chiang Mai late, which is partly to blame for my predicament, but mostly I’m here because I turned left when I should have turned right and ran out of daylight. You know how it goes. Anyway, I left Chiang Mai on the 108 heading south. The 108 eventually bends west and north towards Mae Hong Son. The loop back to Chiang Mai along the Myanmar border generally takes three days. The first hour south on the 108 sucks. City traffic until you head west at the town of Hot. From there it’s winding mountain roads. Good riding, but I grew tired of sitting behind trucks and tour minivans so I took the turn off for Mae Chaem. It was about 4:30 by the time I hit Mae Chaem. I thought about staying on the main road back to the 108 but figured I had enough daylight to pick my way through the mountains on the backroads. I forgot about rule number one. Everything takes longer than expected. So yeah, it was well after dark and I found myself blasting down dirt roads and splashing through mud puddles. Did I mention that I don’t have a GPS, or a mount for my phone, or that I forgot to download the maps for Thailand for my GPS app? Maybe I got a little lost, or a lot lost, and maybe I drove the same twenty kilometer section of road a couple of times while trying to find my turn in the dark. So sue me. Shit happens. Did I also mention that the CRF has a range of 150 km or thereabouts, and I’ve got 110 on the clock?
So yeah, I’m 99% certain I know where I am and I probably have enough gas to make it to Mae La Noi, but when it’s dark, late, and the shitty pavement turns to dirt, then it’s time to call it a day. I can’t complain. It’s a beautiful night with a million stars and strange creatures calling to each other in the jungle, so I think I’ll just lean back against my motorcycle, enjoy my cigar, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
The mighty CRF. Note the military grade 550 cord securing my backpack. You might be a redneck if...
Stinky fruit tree near Mae Chaem.
A palace fit for Ed Bach @flyingdutchman177. It wouldn’t be long before I wished I’d set up camp here.
Dinner at the local supermarket.
The food and hospitality sure were good. Even the outhouse had running water.
Shortly after that is when things went wrong. Or right, depending on your perspective. I should have taken a right at the next junction. I went left. The pavement ended right after sunset, but the intrepid explorer pressed on. Some sketchy bits, muddy bits, and nasty gullies, but the CRF took it like a trooper. You know how they say not to ride at night? Yeah, you should listen.
Muddy boots pretty much sum up the day.
Thai dogs seem to be a particularly happy and nonchalant lot. It’s usually not apparent who, if anyone, owns them. They roam free but are generally friendly, well fed, and healthy looking. They also like to sleep in the road. Not on the side of the road, mind you, but right smack in the middle. Maybe they’ll move, maybe they won’t. Half the time they don’t even look up as you zip past.
Mae Hong Son Loop, Day 2: The Endless Ride
Last night’s bed.
Yellow and black arrows, sometimes one and sometimes more, announce the turn, but you don’t need the signs. You already know the turn, you can sense it, how steep to lean, what gear you need, how much twist of the throttle will keep you on the perfect line. You aren’t thinking, you aren’t choosing this or that, you aren’t really even there. Except that you are there, 100% in the moment. Nothing else exists. Rider, bike, and road merge into the perfect, endless ride.
Most of the mountain villages have a gas pump. Cash only and you may be pumping through a garden hose. Stop for a coffee while you’re there and make a friend.
The beauty of the land is breathtaking and humbling at the same time. Watching a husband and wife work their fields, I couldn’t help but to reflect on how fortunate and privileged I am. We argue about the best bike for this or that, complain about crowds and prices on the tourist trail, and then bitch because we can’t get a good whisky or decent cup of coffee. All the while, the farmers do everything on their decrepit Honda Waves and sweat under the sun while one year bleeds into the next.
The ride is calling. Time to go.
Pretty much how i remember it. Endless flowing curves and hills. Lost in the moment. Bike nirvana. Nice words.
Mae Hong Son Loop, Day 3: Myanmar
Diesel, regular, or super through a garden hose.
Endless turns. Right, left, up, down. Gentle sweepers. Tight, descending hairpins in first gear. Can there be too many turns? I’ll let you know. It’s tiring, though, like a live action version of the old Frogger video game. Coming into Mae Hong Son was particularly bad. People, dogs, scooters crossing left and right; trucks parked half out in the road; car doors opening in front of you; and, vehicles passing two or three abreast on both sides of the two lane road. Don’t outride your line of sight here. Seriously. It’ll catch up to you sooner or later, and the penalty for failure is high. Check your mirrors often, because just when you are in the zone, being all you can be at what is surely the maximum safe, not quite insane speed for the road, then some guy in a Hilux or a grandma in sandals with two kids on the scooter will be sitting on your ass waiting for you to pull the fuck over so they can pass you on a blind turn. It’s great fun, really. Makes you think about selling your bikes in the States because nothing there can compare. Thailand will spoil you that way. The turns keep coming and you’re all alone for kilometer after kilometer. Then it happens. You lean into the turn, blip the throttle a bit rough, and the rear steps out on you. Fuck! Shit! Hell! Slow down there, boy, there’s no hurry. Rule number two, don’t rush to the scene of the accident. Take a break, drink some water, eat some roasted eggs or mystery meat. I have to remind myself that I have nowhere to go and all day to get there. Life is good.
Ban Rak Thai
Thai-Myanmar border crossing. It was just me and a bored, eighteen year old conscript. Beautiful and peaceful.
Ended my day at the Cave Lodge north of Pang Mapha. Think I’ll stay a couple of nights. You should definitely check it out if you are in the area.
Mae Hong Son Loop, Day 4: Ban Tham Lot
Caves, hiking through the jungle looking for caves, and a little riding.
Tham Nam Lod
Mae Hong Son Loop, Day 5: The Long Way to Chiang Mai
Scoping out potential retirement houses.
Spent the morning searching out caves in the Pang Mapha area. The are hundreds of them and you are free to explore them as far as you dare.
Kind of a late start after lunch. Drove through Pai. Meh, nothing special. Seems to be full of western backpackers and hippies. Not my scene. Decided to take the mountain route back, which added an hour or two to the trip and left me riding through the twisties in the dark. Not an ideal situation, but a great ride nonetheless. Took a nap by a stream, stopped in a few villages, and drove through the alpine, pine forests east of Ban Wat Chan.
I highly recommend the Mae Hong Son loop. You can do the loop in two days or take two months, depending on your interests. You can ride everything from dirt tracks to perfectly graded tarmac, stay in five star hotels or camp out under more stars than you can count, or have coffee and lunch in villages so remote that it’s been years since they’ve seen a Westerner. No matter how much time you spend on the loop, you won’t see it all. And this is just one small corner of Thailand. On second though, don’t come here; you’ll hate it.
Felt the urge to nap near this mountain stream.
Glad I don’t have to farm these fields.
Rest day in Chiang Mai and pizza for breakfast.
How's the coffee these days?
It runs the gamut from God awful swine piss to divine, heavenly nectar.
A lot of places still serve heavily sweetened Nescafé. One of the best cups was in a mountain village. The lady made it in a funnel. She had some paper or something in the bottom as a filter, dropped some ground beans on top, and poured the hot water through. Came out like Turkish coffee and was quite good. Tons of espresso bars in the big towns serving locallly grown beans.
Ugh, Nescafé. The Chinese serve that swill also. I'd go to McDonald's for a decent cup believe it or not. Espresso bars? That's a new phenomenon. Very cool. That's what I love about that country. The cost vs convenience is unparalleled. The neighbouring countries may be cheaper but Thai's are more hip and fun.
It’s crazy that you can be riding through prime coffee country and they want to serve Nescafé in the restaurants.
Thais have always been willing to pay for something that has good return on their money but coffee may only be dirty water to them. when we were riding Thailand, cant remember where far from most towns, right out of nowhere is a coffee shop, scooter in the window. We turned around n had a cup, talked to the owner,all glass walls. That place would fit in most anyplace I do go, Socal tourist traps during the weekend.