After our 65km / 40mi warm up ride the day before, it was time for the main event of the tour. The Satun International Century Ride 2016.
The organisers served a light breakfast in the Satun City Hall. So we were on the quiet road from the hotel at just after 6.00am.
When we got to the City Hall the doors were already open and participants were digging into you char kway (called pathongko in Thailand) and knocking back warm soya milk.
We took a photograph before heading into the hall for a bite and a drink.
There were, at most, two hundred riders gathered at the start. Thailand is in the midst of a year-long period of mourning following King Bhumibol’s passing. As a result very few Thais participated in this event.
The extent of the loss felt by all Thais is reflected in the caption on the event jersey.
Serve the King’s Wishes
Create Virtues for Siam
We were ushered to the street beside the City Hall to observe 89 seconds of silence. Then there was a speech or two before before we were sent on our way just before 7.00am.
We rode an anti-clockwise loop.
The road conditions over the entire route were uniformly good. Smooth, unblemished tarmac with a generous shoulder. Typical of not just the Satun area, but everywhere we cycled during our four days in Thailand. Their roads are such a pleasure to ride on.
The first water stop was 50km into the ride. Where friendly volunteers waited with ice cold water and bananas.
That water stop was very strategically placed. The terrain got lumpy as soon as we left that water stop.
After a few kilometers of rolling roads we hit a short but very steep climb. Shades of the Wang Kelian climb from the day before.
This was where the escorts provided by the organisers came in useful for some riders. Marshals on scooters or motorbikes had attached themselves to each of the groups of riders that had formed on the road. They rode ahead of the group to indicate upcoming turns. They rode beside the group to keep everyone on the right side of the road. And they gave flagging riders a helping push when the gradient got too challenging for them.
This was the young man who followed our group for much of the day.
This marshal was offering bottles of water to anyone who wanted one.
There were also uniformed personnel stationed at every crossroad, T junction and side street. It was nearly impossible to get lost.
Philip had shot off from the gun. We didn’t see him again until after we finished. Leslie wasn’t far behind Philip for the first half of the ride.Lay, Marco and I caught up with Leslie at the second water stop – see photograph with marshal above.
Leslie coasted along with us for a while, took our photograph, and then bolted away again. It was Lay’s first century ride. Marco and I did not want it to be his last, so we were sure to keep the pace manageable.
There were enough lumps and bumps over the second half of the ride to keep us working, but we were careful to stay out of the red.
It was a hot day though. By noon it felt like 38°C / 100°F. We were glad to see a 7 Eleven at a PTT petrol station after we had covered 110km / 68mi. The you char koay and the banana I had eaten that morning had been all burned away. It was time for a cheese toastie and a large Yakult.
We lounged in the air conditioning of the 7 Eleven for almost thirty minutes. Completely forgetting that we had a motorcycle escort, who waited patiently outside for us. Which was embarrassing. We compounded our embarrassment after we got going again by asking him if there were many riders behind us. He didn’t speak English, so we tried hand signals. He interpreted our hands pointing behind us a request to stop riding beside us. Ooops!!
He then latched on to another couple of riders ahead of us who needed a push to get over a series of rollers. Fortunately we managed to catch up to him at the last water stop and thank him for looking after us.
We might not have been very convincing, because he didn’t follow us when we left that water stop. He was replaced by a young couple on a motorbike, who stayed with us for the remaining 16km / 10mi to the finish.
Including waiting patiently while I replaced a flat front inner tube. Punctured by a staple with just 6km / 4mi to go!
Our motorcycle escort stopped traffic at intersections, and with 2km / 1mi to go, told us to sprint into the finish. We were already doing about 34kph / 21mph. We weren’t going to go any faster.
As I had anticipated, Philip and Leslie were already in the Satun City Hall, eating lunch, when we got there. I needed a liter of ice water and a few minutes under a fan before I could contemplate eating anything.
I don’t normally eat anything right after a long ride. But this was Thailand, where the food is always delicious. Including a shredded and fried fish with curry leaves dish that went very well with white rice or fried noodles.
“Where are the photographs?” you ask. I do apologise, but none of us took any pictures of the lunch buffet. I assure you though. It was very good.
The Satun International Century Ride organisers, i.e. Khun Metharin and her team from WeSee Sport, had already done an outstanding job looking after the riders. Three meals. Excellent signage and marshalling along the route. Plenty of cold water at all four stops. Ice available at all but the last stop. (It was such a hot day that all the ice at water stop four had melted by the time we got there). Motorcycle escorts accompanying participants as they rode. A jersey and a matching T shirt.
Add to that a lucky draw with attractive prizes. Leslie won a set of tires, and Lay won a water bottle.
All this for just a RM160 / USD36 registration fee per participant. Khun Metharin and her Wesee Sport team put many a Malaysian century ride organiser to shame.
We expressed our appreciation and gratitude to Khun Metharin for a thoroughly enjoyable event. And we will definitely keep an eye out for the next event she organises. She did drop a hint. Krabi in March 2017.
The main event was well worth the trip. And we had two more days to look forward to. Well, after a shower and a nap, that is. And dinner around the corner from the hotel. Which was delicious.
Then it was to bed. We had an early start planned for Day 3.