Iron Butt – When 150km becomes 545km++ (around 800km in total..)
Have you ever set off some place with a mellow mindset? Knowing that you have only one simple thing planned for that day. Just one little thing and that’s all. Nothing else to think about. I am sure you have. We all have.. and yesterday, that is exactly the mindset I started out with…
Except it wasn’t the mindset I ended up with..
Saturday 17th June.
Despite a poor sleep the night before (nothing new there though, as I often find it hard to settle the night before a ride), I was up and at’em, ready to meet my riding buddy Sam at a local PTT petrol garage.
When I arrived she was already there and graciously allowed me to get myself a caffeine fix to help fight off the lack-of-sleeps.
Whilst she waited for me to finish my coffee a few GS bikes turned up, fully decked out with panniers and paraphernalia. We received friendly exchanges and well wishes for our trip. Very nice interaction to start off our day.
..but everything after that point was kind of one weird bad omen after the next…..
The first bad omen in my mind, is the fact that I had decided not to turn on my GoPro camera for the initial long straight highway road. My folly, for I really wish I had captured the shocking sight of a scooter motorbike in the middle of the highway with NO BACK WHEEL! Rider was ok luckily and was sitting on his bike looking bemused (yes, bemused..!). Traffic had halted all around him. No idea where his wheel went, but it obviously went flying some place. My only thoughts on this is that it was badly fitted, came loose and flew off. I wish i had captured it on video. Well never mind.
The next folly came in the form of a pickup truck nearly wiping me out. Again, not captured on video. This nutty driver pulled out diagonally across the road initially in front of Sam, but thankfully stopped in time. I slowed down to see what the driver would do. The driver waited, so i continued to ride on…only to have the driver suddenly veer right into my path like i didn’t exist! I beeped my horn loudly, he stopped, i carried on through. I watched him in my mirrors as I rode on, to see what he would do, which is when I saw a huge truck careering down the highway towards him. The truck nearly took HIM out this time, whilst he was hovering in the middle of the road doing nothing. Thankfully he moved out of the way in time and the truck lambasted him with a loud horn.
Next incident was another pickup. A driver possessed. He came up behind me in a fury and rode up aggressively before overtaking in a side-swipe fashion. He then shot off for Sam and sandwiched her between a car and his pickup for a good few moments. Scared the hell out of her and left her wondering why this obvious aggression. Maybe we annoyed him earlier for some reason? Who knows.
Not so long later i see Sam had pulled over onto the side of the road, so I pull up along side her to check on her. She tells me a wasp is stuck in the screen of her bike and asked if I could i help. She is highly allergic, so I tried to fish it out, but it dropped down inside of her bike someplace.
Before heading off she reminded me that her epi-pen was in her bag in case anything bad happens. I made an inappropriate joke of saying,
“…and so i just stab it directly into your chest, right?”
The look of horror on her face was classic..but I regretted it a little when she realised I wasn’t serious and looked at me like a little kid and declared,
“that is so mean!”.
Sometimes my sense of humour is a little sick.
So, to make things better I told her we should take a quick “selfie” photo (the photo above), because;
“if you get stung and die, we at least have a prior photo to remember you by”.
I know, I am a sick puppy and I am going straight to Hell..
So things were drama free for a while and we took a left turn onto the 1099 to Omkoi. It was a pretty road. A little straight for my liking, but pretty. I felt mellow and we took a leisurely pace.The road had herds of cattle dotted intermittently along the strip, and I really don’t think I have ever seen that many “beware of cattle” signs in one place before.
*NOTE* Omkoi is really great as off-road territory, rather than on. If you have a dirt bike then this place is a dirt riders dream. I think I need to explore options later for Omkoi as currently we were limited as my bike is set up for road and Sam was on her fairly new CB500x. Omkoi is on the list for a later date when we finally take up more dirt riding explorations.
I double checked with the restaurant owner about Doi Mon Chong view and it was confirmed that the viewpoint was closed at this time (only open during November and February, when the weather is more suitable/safer).
Sam suggested we ride up Mae Chaem way and head to Hot Coffee Guesthouse and Resort. Sounded like a good idea and the route would take us through some nice twisty roads.
..and so it began. Before we knew it we were on the 1263 continuing on to Khun Yuam.
On this route I had to ride past my old accident spot again, but it was less intense, weird and scary than the last couple of times, so that was good.
..it began to rain a bit..and drizzle. But it had been doing that on and off anyway, so never mind.
However, as we came closer to Khun Yuam it started to really come down quite a bit heavier. I got the feeling Sam wanted to find accommodation at Khun Yuam, but I really didn’t want to stay there (I spent time in the hospital there and also in a hotel room recovering). If she had insisted I would have respected it, but she didn’t. So, we got out our waterproof jackets, filled up the fuel tanks, and headed up the 108 to Mae Hong Son.
As we rode my words to Sam’s query of,
“Do you think it will be ok with this rain coming down?”
With my reply of:
“I don’t think it will get any worse than what we already have had”, came to haunt me, as we hit a TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR. Oops…
Then of course the light started to fade at around 6.30pm or so. Getting darker and darker. Our pace had slowed due to the wet which meant that every time I saw a road sign for Mae Hong Son I kept expecting to see much less kilometers left to ride. Instead I keep feeling like we had ridden many km when in fact we had only covered 2, and another 2 and another 2…and so on. The signs seemed to mock me and this felt like the longest ride of our entire trip. Also, by this point we had already covered around 400km and were running on empty energy-wise. Still, we pushed on with Mae Hong Son as the goalpost.
We arrived at Mae Hong Son practically aquaplaning in.
My trousers, shoes and gloves were soaked. I could feel my socks squishing around small pools of water inside of my old damaged boots. Plus a nice puddle of water had formed in the crotch of my riding pants. Oh Joy…
Thankfully Sam had the foresight to get me to ring up a guesthouse whilst we were at the garage in Khun Yuam, and so we pulled up at Piya Guesthouse soggy but with accommodation waiting.
We rushed to get cleaned up and changed. Hung our stuff up in the hopes it would dry off for the morning, and then rushed out to the Sunflower Restaurant which overlooks Lake Jong Kum and the temple (Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu).
Mae Hong Son was DEAD, but thankfully the Mayflower was open and the owner came to chat with us a bit. We fed our bellies and drank some beer, then paid up and headed wearily to get some rest.
Except, it would seem, for whatever reason (maybe too much adrenaline?), neither Sam not myself slept well. I had a terrible sleep and when I spoke to Sam in the morning it turns out she had suffered the same.
We looked like a couple of Zombies.
We grabbed some breakfast and a strong coffee at Salween River Restaurant and then headed back to get changed into our riding gear.
I had to put latex gloves on under my sopping wet riding gloves and i put my feet into plastic bags prior to putting my wet socks on (I forgot to pack a spare pair … ).
Thankfully we were lucky for the ride to Pai weather-wise, because the sun came out. Despite the weather report predicting rain.
The ride to Pai was pretty straight forward. Nice twists. Not too busy. Clement weather. At Kiew Lom Viewpoint rain threatened, but thankfully didn’t amount to much.
Later on, Murphy’s law would have it that my GoPro battery would die before i got footage of a young buff Foreign guy riding a CRF-L with NO SHIRT ON! It wasn’t an unpleasant sight (haha :p), but honesty was really quite silly looking, not to mention unsafe. Anyway, each to their own. Hope he doesn’t end up falling.
Later, when just at the slight outskirts of Pai I passed a large field and rode past a young hippy-looking foreign man with a ‘man-bun’ and beard. He was on his knees, rummaging around buffalo dung.
It’s “mushroom” season…
Funny old world…
By the time we arrived in Pai Sam was tired and dehydrated.
We rode past our old staple eateries but every place was shut.
Thankfully the restaurant within the Hotel des Artists was open, so we stopped there to eat and hydrate.
Turned out to be a funny people watching spot on the corner of the main street in Pai. The amount of near misses from people that had obviously only just learned to ride a scooter (badly) was insane!
(You will notice that I undertook a car in this video. Yes, not good, but I did. Let’s leave it at that, yes? ^^)
It was a pretty uneventful ride back to Chiang Mai. The 1095 was deliciously twisty as always, and so had a bit of fun overtaking and avoiding vehicles. We stopped for one coffee stop half way down the route and checked in on how each other was doing (verdict: KNACKERED!).
Just before the end of the 1095 we took the 3009 route which bypasses much of the main highway. We stopped in at Pansawan Restaurant for a mango smoothie. Said hello to the owners and chatted a while before finally heading off.
Sam headed off her way and I headed off mine.
When I got home and lay in a bath soaking my aches for a bit, I reviewed our trip in my mind. This meme pretty much sums up how I was feeling about this ride.
Was one fun trip though! 😀