Saturday 15 December 2012

Day in the Life of Touring Cyclists

Day's ride: 108.9 km
Average speed: 18.3 kph
Snakes spotted so far (road kill) 10; live 1

"Talk about taking one day at a time. One thing cyling teaches you is that you never quite know what's going to happen next," Judy the Stoker.
6.30 am: The alarm wakens us in "The Happy House", Pak Bara, southern Thailand. It's been daylight for half an hour. Pack up gear, drink a bottle of water each and purify some more for the day ahead. Trudge downstairs with baggage and unlock tandem from its resting place in the entranceway.

Our water purifier is a Steripen and it
lights up like Darth Vader's light saber.
Loading up the Beast of Bridgwater outside the Happy House.
The camera has been in an aircon room overnight and
condensation has built up on the lens to soften this picture.

8.00 am: On the road. A quick ride for 11 kilometres to La-Ngu.
8.35 am: Breakfast stop for Roti Canai (pancakes with curry), our order taken by the manager who fusses over us after spotting the bike. Throughout breakfast, Mike keeps an eye on the unlocked bike which is only just in sight through the throng of other diners. We shake hands with the manager as we leave, and Judy raises a laugh from the Roti maker as she tries to thank him in Thai.
9.15: Judy buys a pre-pay topup for her phone and we're on the road, which is heavy with traffic but eases after a few kilometres.
11.00 am: Stop in a street market in Thung Wa for coconut juice. Mike buys six bananas "for playlunch".
11.00 am: Drink stop
11.20 am: Resume cycling through flat, pleasant country. Lots of people wave and call hello from the roadside. We wave and/or call back sometimes answering the most common question put to us here in Thailand,"where are you going". We answer Trang, or Ko Samui, Bangkok or even Cambodia or Laos depending on our mood. They are all right, all on the grand plan if things go well.
11.50 am: Traffic police in very military looking uniforms have a road block in place. They wave us through smiling as they do, and two of them salute us.

Rubber trees, sthn Thailand
12.45 pm: Light rain starts to fall and looks as though it may get heavier. We seek cover in a bus shelter. Mike takes pictures of rubber trees.
1.10 pm: Resume cycling through large scale plantations of rubber trees.

Holed - left rear pannier after it fell from the bike.
1:40 pm: Rain resumes and we take cover outside a small, rural grocery where we have green honey tea and icecreams.
2.00 pm: Resume cycling. We debate whether we should try to reach Trang this afternoon, a day's ride of about 110 km. We push on, uncertain whether we can make it but not sure where we can stay on the way.
2.30 pm: In some roadworks we hit a bad bump and the left rear pannier falls off and somersaults along the road. We push the bike out of the traffic, Judy fetches the pannier and we repack the back of the bike, using a bungee to try to stop the pannier coming off a second time.
2.40 pm: Resume cycling.

Bonker's delight - bbq pork
3.00 pm: Judy "bonks" - cyclists' word for "hitting the wall". She needs food but nothing immediately available.
3.30 pm: We spot a very average looking foodstall and pull over. A man comes out and puts traffic cones around our bike so that motorists won't hem us in. Judy orders a bbq pork dish with rice and vegetables. She declares it's delicious. Mike insists he's not hungry and orders two Cokes. Mike unpacks bike to get Kindle to check out accommodation options and scoffs three bananas from his handlebar bag.
4.15 pm: Resume cycling, rain threatening. Have decided to make Trang our destination.
4.50 pm: We pull over to check the GPS but it doesn't seem to have heard of Trang (pop 65,000) and it says the nearest accommodation is over 50 km away. We have the name of one hotel however and set off for the town centre.
5.10 pm: Somehow we manage to cycle straight into the city centre and quickly find the hotel. Its full. The receptionist phones another hotel 150 metres away. They have a room. We go there. It's getting dark. Both hotels are near the railway station - the cheap hotels usually are.
6.00 pm: We are checked in, the bike's securely locked in a passageway, the room's nice and Judy has the first shower. Mike turns on the computer. It's working despite the somersault down the road in the pannier.
7.20 pm: Leave the hotel on foot to have dinner. Find a street market instead and wander through it until hunger drives us to a nearby restaurant.
8.40 pm: Return to market and buy five small cakes for dessert. Scoff them sitting under the verandah entrance to our hotel. The temperature is pleasant, but the chilli in our meals has us both sweating.
9.00 pm:Mike uses wifi in room to check out routes for the coming days, Bike Route Toaster. Googles,"how do I stop my Ortlieb panniers falling off?" There's quite a bit of discussion on various forums, it's not just us. Judy is reading a Thai phrase book. Decision is made to stay in Trang the following day to sort out pannier problem. We need to buy some tubing and some more bungees.
9.40 pm: Judy does emails while Mike surfs news channels - for once there is a selection. Settles on excellent documentary about Al Qaeda in Yemen.
10.30 pm: Retire to bed. Judy announces that the Thai phrase for "no chilli" is "mai prik".


  1. Superb reading. Great to be able to follow the ups and downs of a day.

  2. And in the meantime, the slaves to the system back here in NZ are tied to their desks all day long, hurriedly jam a sandwich down and slurp some cheap coffee and then spend an hour in a traffic jam waiting to get home, swerving to avoid angry drivers and ignorant pedestrians.

    Guys, you have the idyllic life :-)

  3. Yes, that was the one Thai word I never forgot after having back of throat torched.


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