Cooked ClutchMarch 7, 2017
Go Slow Lambing SeasonMarch 22, 2017
Some people see retirement as an opportunity to spend more time in the garden. For TRF member Simon Webb it's an excuse to pack the motorbike gear and head off for adventure riding on warmer shores. His latest expedition took him half way round the world to Thailand where he mixed up a bit of road riding, jungle trail riding and even managed to fit in the Macau GP in the middle. Not a bad way to spend your pension!
In November I planned a trip to the Far East to do some riding, on and off-road and see the Macau GP, traveling with and meeting friends and family along the way.
I had previously ridden in Northern Thailand on and off-road and knew how good it was there. The plan was to do some road riding in Northern Thailand, spectate at the Macau Grand Prix and then spend 3 days off-road riding in southern Thailand.
Around mid November a friend and I hired Yamaha MT07's from Pops Motorcycles in Chiang Mai and set off to do a loop to Mae Sarieng via the Doi Inthanon National Park, then Mae Hong Son, Phi and Samoeng. The 5 day road ride is fantastic, the roads are generally very good with bends swinging all the way, they actually sell t-shirts with the route on them - over 3,800 bends they claim and I wouldn't dispute that.
Bike hire was about £25 a day and very nice hotels for about £30 a night sharing a room, usually with a pool for that end of ride dip. It’s usually about 30 degrees C but it can rain, this is the tropics. Light waterproofs will suffice or just enjoy a cooling downpour! The towns are always interesting with local markets, restaurants and bars aplenty. If you stay over en-route they all have various sights to see, we rode up to the Myanmar border, lunched by a lovely lake and had our photo taken with the border guards.
From there we flew to Hong Kong and by fast boat to Macau for the spectacle of the city road circuit GP. Be warned both Hong Kong and Macau are expensive compared to other Far East countries. The motorcycle race fits alongside a number of car races, the Brits are the predominant riders and put on a great show. Grandstand passes are about £35 a day, but worth it with good large screen coverage of the race.
I had previously tried some light off-roading around Chiang Mai and had realised to get the best out of the country you need to be guided. So after the race I headed to Krabi in the south of Thailand for 3 days riding guided by Marco Livio Sinibaldi of Thailand Off-road Adventures. The landscape is stunning with large sandstone hills that you ride past through plantations on through forests and the stunning Khao Sok National Park.
I had left a friend I was travelling with to take in the beach resort of Krabi as he is averse to off-road riding whilst I had 3 days of what can only be described as superb riding guided by Marco, a young 58 year old Italian with a passion for nature and motorcycling. He discussed my riding objectives and wishes and met all of them, always checking I was happy. I have done many off-road trips, and believe me, many guides are not always as attentive to your wishes. But the key thing is the acceptance of bikes and riders, the general population all ride mopeds, they love bikes, wave as you pass and when we were trail riding offered us drink and food if we stopped, this from people who appear to have very little.
As a 62 year old retiree I am always looking to mix a bit of adventure with bikes and it was fun to discover that Marco's 2nd guide is a 80 year old Belgian ex moto cross rider, an impressive guy still riding the trails. Riding in Thailand didn’t disappoint, Laos and Cambodia are next on the list which I am told are as much an experience.
If you love good riding in wonderful scenery at good value it is hard to beat, perhaps I should keep quiet about it...
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