Almost exactly three years ago, I did my first bike ride ride in Thailand. The excellent Samila Century Ride 2013. Since then my friends and I have occasionally discussed doing another ride in Thailand. Nothing came of those chats until the Perlis Bike Ride 2016 was cancelled due to lack of interest.
The Perlis Bike Ride had been scheduled on the same weekend as the Satun International Century Ride Thailand 2016. I had opted for the Perlis ride as Perlis is the only state in Peninsular Malaysia where I have yet to ride.
With the Perlis ride off the calendar, Leslie suggested that we do the Satun ride instead. And to make the long drive to Satun even more worthwhile, he suggested we take a few days to ride around in southern Thailand.
That sounded like a good idea to Lay, Marco, Philip and I. As Leslie had already done a few bike tours around Thailand, he volunteered to map out a route and itinerary for us.
The five of us met at the Sungai Buloh R&R area at 6.00am. Leslie, Marco and Philip in one vehicle, and Lay and I in another. We had 490km / 304mi to drive to the border town of Padang Besar.
The only concern we had about the entire trip was where to park our cars in Padang Besar. Our worries about leaving our vehicles unattended for three nights were put to rest when the sergeant at the Padang Besar Police Station let us park inside the station compound.
With parking sorted out, we get ready to ride.
The Padang Besar Police Station was the official start and end point for our four-day tour of southern Thailand.
We rode from Padang Besar to Satun.
The most convenient border crossing between the two towns is at Wang Kelian. The road to Wang Kelian and beyond bisects a ridge of hills between Padang Besar and Satun.
The switchbacks were a significant challenge.
Like the rest of us, Lay was glad to get to the top after more than 200 meters / 760 feet of climbing over 2.5km / 1.5mi.
Just as we were about to negotiate the switchbacks down to Kampung Wang Kelian, the sky suddenly darkened and it started to pour. It rained so hard that water was streaming down the road. The risk of skidding was high, even at low speeds. Keeping my speed low was difficult because my brakes were getting very little grip on my alloy rims. Philip had so little braking on his carbon rims that he had to walk his bike down the steeper sections. It was a sketchy descent for all of us.
We waited out the rain in a small sundry shop in Kampung Wang Kelian.
The rain was torrential for about fifteen minutes. Just as suddenly as it had started, the rain stopped.
(I’ll write a review of our waterproof Apidura saddle packs. Suffice to say here that our belongings stayed bone dry, despite the deluge.)
4km / 2.5mi down the road is the Thai-Malaysian border.
Immigration formalities didn’t take long. Then we were back on our bikes for the 14km / 8.5mi ride down through the valley before reversing direction and riding south to Satun.
We had to be at the Satun City Hall by 5.30pm. The program for the Satun International Century Ride included a pre-ride dinner and remembrance ceremony for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. We didn’t want to be late.
The first order of business was to say hello to Khun Metharin. She had organised the Samila Century Ride in 2013, and together with Wesee Sport, was the organiser for the Satun ride.
Also in the photograph are the emcee for the event, and a news cameraman. The three of them conspired to get me to do a recorded interview about where Team Flipside was from, how we felt about participating in the Satun ride, and to share my thoughts about the passing of Thailand’s revered and beloved king.
Then it was dinner time. The start of four days of good eating in Thailand!
The evening ended with some speeches by officials from Satun Province, followed by 89 seconds of silence and a remembrance ceremony for the late King Bhumibol.
We gathered up our goodie bags, turned on our bike lights, and wove our way through an unexpected night market on our way to the SinKiat Buri Hotel. Our home for the next two nights.
It had been a very early start to the day. And there were many kilometers to ride the next day. Time for me to call it a night.
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