Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Snacking Club

Okay, second post of the day! If you haven't read it yet, start with the next post. It will disgust you.

Done? Good. I promise, I won't say anything about dogs in this post. I got that out of my system.

Today Erin and I went for a ride with the Chiang Mai Sunday Cycling Club. They've been going for group rides every Sunday for the last 14 years, and Erin and I thought we'd tag along to meet other cyclists.

Today's ride featured about 4o Thai cyclists and about 10 foreigners, half of whom were expats and half of whom were tourists. One of the foreigners was an English woman who had never been on a multi-day tour before when she up and decided that she'd like to ride a bike from Bangkok to Laos. We wish her luck.

It was nice to ride with other people, but they were pretty slow and they made a lot of long stops, usually for food. We met in the morning at one of the historic gates of the old city, and we made our way to an exhibition of classic bikes. One of the bikes was a 120 year-old Peugeot. The photo below is not it, however. You'll have to use your imagination.

After leaving the bike show we stopped for food, went back to the gate to pick up more riders, and rode to the edge of town, where we picked up something to munch on. Then we rode a few kilometres at about 20 km/h, which made Snakeslayer antsy, because he likes to go faster. It was a crowd of mixed abilities, riding a very mixed variety of bikes, though, and many people probably couldn't go much faster.

We stopped for a wee nibble, then we got back on the road and passed some other club members who'd pulled over for a nosh at a noodle stand; the body of the pack was sated, though, so we didn't stop there. A few kilometres further on, we stopped for a snack, and then rode another 5 km to a nice Wat (temple) on a hilltop, where they fed us abundantly and for free.

Surprisingly, more than a few of the riders in the Chiang Mai Sunday Cycling Club are quite fat. I know that this pot(belly) shouldn't be calling those little Thai kettles black, but seriously, some of those riders are really very fat. I submit that this is because they spend more time fuelling up for the bike ride than they do actually riding the bike.

Erin and I tired of the slow pace on the way home, so together with a 51 year-old dutchman riding a mountain bike with huge, knobby tires, we broke from the pack. That dutchman somehow propelled that mountain bike at 30 to 35 km/h and kept up with us quite well for the whole 20 km back to the city. He did draft behind me, but the slipstream I created covered only 2/3 of his bike and body, because he was tall and had a ridiculously upright posture on his mountain bike.

The Sunday Cycling Club is an excellent institution, which allows cyclists to connect and gets people out on the road. People were very friendly and very welcoming. Still, I don't know how enthusiastic I'd be about going with them again. The trouble with cycling in a group of 50 people is that you're always waiting for someone to finish eating. It took us 6 hours to cover 55 km, and that's including the 35 km/h burn we did for the 20-or-so km back to town. I imagine that some of the slower riders won't make it home until about 3:30 next Wednesday afternoon.

We hear that the club rides are often attended by 250 riders. It'd be fun to ride in a mob that big, but who has time to wait for all that snacking?

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