Tag Archives: chiang mai

Rapha Prestige Chiang Mai | “The hardest century ride I have ever done”

A Photo Blog By: Peter Williamson

When Arran and Jorgen finished their Friday warm up ascent of Doi Suthep, strava told them a little story. Their yet to be met team-mate Natalie, climbed it in almost half of the time they had just taken. In fact, she had been QOM until a couple of days previous. Great substitution Donna!


We should have twigged then that when she said she had ridden the course in reverse and there were a few steep climbs and it was likely to be muddy and hot that she was a mistress of understatement…

Now it’s out there on YouTube for the world to see thanks to our friend the Durianrider and his camera.. ‘the hardest century ride I have ever done’… with cameos from your very own Anza teams.

The first 40 km were a delightful meander thru the beautiful Thai country lanes with optimistic trains of riders in their new very colourful new Rapha team clothes. This totally took your mind off what was to come. Teams of 4 at two minute intervals were bunching up as enthusiastic riders stretched their legs.

As summed up by the Durianrider… “this is f.. epic man” … “this is the hardest century ride I have ever done”  … but better still watch it.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB_4UVlLRhQ

We hit our first climbs on first class roads and settled in to our own rhythms…these seemed long and hard .. but its all relative. Quite a lot of people were starting to walk or help weakest team members. This is well before the turn on to a minor concrete road at 60km. Then it started.. into the national park we go…

Grooved concrete on the uphill, severely broken concrete rattling your teeth and stretching your brakes on the very steep downhills… Now if we are making all these descents does that mean anything?

You betcha! Sharp ascents steep enough that conventional cars would be struggling to get up them. My compact crank and 11/27 setup was not going to make it without continual zig zagging… which meant the fastest way to the top was direct via shanks’ pony… prompting the Durianrider in his you tube to comment that he” didn’t know Trek and Moots made prams”. He was on a 22/40 setup… and as he described it ‘Frooming’. From my memory Jorgen said he saw up to 28% on his strava.

Oh yes… plus mud, gravel, sand. Bike handing was a constant challenge for 40km.

And then the real climbing started! Blah!… in 40 plus degrees with over 100 very hard kilometres in the legs… “see how you go son” “come to Chiang Mai and I will show you some climbs’ claims the Durianrider.

The long ‘police box climb’ might not have quite averaged in the teens but the immediately following  7 steps (switchbacks) was well into the teens… which left Arran ready to have more than words with the organisers. Is that the sign of a successful Rapha ride?

The Durianrider points out that even with his light weight and extreme cadence he was having to pump out over 300 watts to get up these very long very steep climbs… but at least the roads were decent again.

If my Garmin says I was descending in the high 70’s you can be sure the Jorgen’s was registering well in to the 80’s.

Another 30km down the valley and into a hot and sticky Chiang Mai saw the two ANZA teams home hours before anybody else and knocking a good hole in the beer supply. Around 7 hours on the bike. and certainly, more than half an hour pushing the pram. Natalie didn’t bring a pram!

Well after dark teams were still straggling in. Yup there were a few prangs and some broken bones. This was road bike handling at the extreme.  Last words to the Durianrider… “i reckon that’s the hardest Rapha ride in the world… if anybody knows a harder one let me know”

I will be back … with a 22/40 and having learned ‘Frooming’ properly.


Steven Wong is da man!

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first.  Well done to everybody who competed in Tour of Friendship this week!  But special mention is of course due to Steven Wong who brought home a first place position racing for ANZA Cycling in the 50-59 age category.  If you missed any of Don’s daily updates, scroll down and you’ll find them a few posts down.  If I’ve missed anybody, do let me know by emailing ANZAcycling.rti.ed@gmail.com and we can update on the fly!

ANZA Cycling results:
Steven Wong 1st
Bill Oliver 12th

John Bateman 48th

Raoul Berthillon – Doing great right up until a rogue bidon felled him in stage 3, unfortunately giving him an excuse for a new bike (silver linings Raoul!)

Aiyana Currie 4th

And in the Open category racing for Team ANZA Direct Asia
Dave Christenson 6th
Mark Cook 8th
Peter Bennett 24th
Dave Cox 27th
Don MacDonald 29th
Tsun Hin Chiu 30th
Chun Yip Law 34th
Pierre Alain Scherwey unfortunately had to withdraw while in the yellow jersey due to work committments 😦

And a special mention to friends and recently ex ANZA riders Sarah Doyle 2nd in the ladies and Jimmy Guardino 15th in the open.

You may have read that due to a number of relocations and retirements from the committee, there will be an EGM in early June to elect a new committee and agree some changes to the club constitution.

We at RTI are hereby offering space to anybody who plans to stand for a committee position to present their manifesto and case to be elected.  This offer is open to all, whether existing members re-standing or prospective committee members.  I’m sure the club members would like to hear what you want to achieve during your time on the committee.

Mersing Trip
Another reminder that the mersing trip is coming up in 2 weeks time (17th/18th May).  I know it clashes with the Bintan Triathlon, but for those of you who prefer to focus on the beautiful art of cycling, the Mersing trip is a great opportunity to get some serious miles in and to get to know your fellow members much better.  Nico is organising, so you should let him know if you want to come, or simply let us know at ANZAcycling.rti.ed@gmail.com and we’ll pass on the message.

Kuantan Trip
And the second trip of the ‘summer’ to Kuantan on the weekend of June 1st is struggling to justify hiring a bus due to lack of support.  If you are interested in this trip, now is the time to put your name forward.  Dave Powell will be organizing a coach to go up there but only if there are enough people.  Contact Dave directly or email us here at ANZAcycling.rti.ed@gmail.com and we’ll pass on the information. 

On to the articles
My co-editor/author has been away racing and all the usual suspects who provide us with material have been with him, so thank goodness for Martin who like clockwork has provided Tri-Corner for you.  For my part, I have focussed on the family side of cycling this week, with a write up of a great trip to Chiang Mai with SpiceRoads.

Read, enjoy, comment and please, if you enjoy RTI, we need you to help us with articles.

Finally, don’t forget the new starting place for our 7am Saturday rides.  Food Canopy.  If you find yourself at the Long House all alone, then just sit tight for 15 minutes, all the rides will be coming along shortly.

Weather permitting, get out there and ride, but as always, let’s be careful out there!

P.S. I’ve had the tech team working to try to pull together a photo gallery and want to give it a bit of a beta test.  In the RTI menu at the top of the page, you should find a new link to a photo gallery or click here If you have time, can you play with it and see if it works.  Comments below or back to me at ANZAcycling.rti.ed@gmail.com

The Family Trip | Chiang Mai

When Sarah, my wife, announced that the children were old enough for us to do a family cycling trip I was delighted.  She had been beavering away at the laptop for days and finally raised her head to say she had found the perfect trip.  A SpiceRoads family spiceroads-logotrip in Chiang Mai for five days.  “Great, how far are we riding?” I asked.  “95km” was her reply.  “Fantastic, that will fit right in with my Etape training.  95km a day with some hilly terrain.  Isn’t that a bit far for the kids though” I added as an afterthought, “never mind, they can always sit in the bus”.  “No, 95km in total over 4 days of riding with a day riding some Elephants” she replied.

Some quick mental arithmetic determined that this was a daily distance that, to paraphrase Linda Evangelista, “was not worth waking up for”, and so I was resigned to it being a family holiday rather than a hardcore training week.

Oh the sacrifices we make!

We’d been on a SpiceRoads one day temple tour round Bangkok a few months earlier and the bikes were good then, but a couple of people said the bikes could be a bit touch and go so Sarah decided to bring her Mountain bike, which she hadn’t ridden for at least 18 months.  Step 1 get it serviced.  Step 2 get a box. Step 3 pack it (First problem, mountain bikes are chunkier than road bikes, so I had to pack the wheels separately)  Ok, we’re ready to go!

Once in Chiang Mai, we had a day bumming around the town but the night before the cycling was due to start I thought I’d better reassemble the bike.  Ah!  Looks like the bike has taken a knock on the plane and the derailleur hanger has done its job of saving the rear derailleur beautifully by shearing right off.  Looks like Sarah is using the tour bike after all and a few panicky emails make sure that they do, in fact, have a bike for her to use.  No problem we think, we can put the clip in pedals on the tour bike and Sarah can still wear her mountain bike shoes.  That seems like a plan right up until we find that the Singapore climate has done its evil work and the straps break off the shoe as soon as she tries to tighten them!  Ho Hum, running shoes just like any normal tourist them!

As luck would have it, the bikes are all new this year and in fantastic condition.

We were the only people on the tour, so it’s just us, our own personal guide, Noom (although he said he didn’t mind if we wanted to call him Moon) and our driver Thai, now how am I going to remember his name?

I think I break one of The Rules by putting road pedals on a mountain bike, and away we go.

Day 1Day 1 was a 26k bimble through some great countryside followed by a 5km canoe across the reservoir for lunch.  All pretty flat apart from a really unexpected kick to get up to the top of the dam.  Danielle attacked, Luka followed, I was not to be beaten by either.  So half way up, a hand on Luka’s back as he looks about ready to fall off, and we slowly pull Danielle back passing her just before the top.  Luka is stoked, Danielle is furious.  I just don’t understand where these children get their competitive streak from 😉

We hit the canoes thinking it won’t be long until lunch.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LONG IT TAKES TO CANOE 5K ON FLAT WATER!  We keep thinking that it is just around the corner.  Our spirits raise as we see some lakeside houses, only to be dashed as the guide paddles on past.  On and on we go, Danielle thinks it will never end, Luka has a sense of humor failure and just as we think we will die on this lake, the guide pulls into what must have been absolutely the last restaurant on the lake.  The effort, the desperation, the pain are all quickly forgotten as we tuck in to some lovely rustic Thai food and the kids embark on trying to out dare each other into jumping off the highest platform.  Not sure these would pass Australian or New Zealand Health and Safety!  The night is spent in a small resort on the river Ping.  Nothing special but clean and pretty much what you’d expect in rural Thailand.

Matching outfits for the girls
Matching outfits for the girls
Where is our guide going?
Where is our guide going?
Its a long way down
Its a long way down

Day 2

Day 2 was the day we decided to be team ANZA 2011/12, resplendent in our gold and black kit (Still the best design of club kit in my opinion).  It started strangely with a ride in an ox cart.  Fast these animals are not, and it can only be said that suspension and rubber tyres were a good invention, but it took us dutifully to a local village where they had some locally produced craft products for us to buy.  No really, they were locally produced, and absolutely did not come from the same Chinese factory as all other tourist craft products.  Anyway, Luka acquired the best souvenir a small boy could ask for, a catapult and proceeded to fire small stones anywhere and everywhere.

Once the tourist activities were over the serious matter of riding 30km downhill commenced, and a very enjoyable day was spent putting in next to no effort whatsoever as we travelled through the northern Thailand countryside.  Only one small piece of drama ensued when we had finished at 29.8km.  Danielle was therefore instructed to take the Garmin and run 100m up the road to ensure we bagged 30km for the day (but that’s a secret so don’t tell anybody)

Team ANZA.
Team ANZA.

That night we were eco-tourists.  We spent the night in an adobe lodge where we helped make some more adobe bricks, built some models out of the mud/clay and then helped cook our own dinner.  We even had to introduce the children to that strange thing called washing up your own plates and cutlery.  If you’re a 5 Star hotel junkie, you might not like it, but it was clean simple and just fine to crash for a night.

White! Just the colour for making mud bricks!

Day 3Day 3 and another eco-tourist start to the day as we went to ride a water buffalo and learn all about how they plant and harvest rice.  Suffice to say that all is well in the rural world of Northern Thailand.  Husband talks to tourists while wife does back breaking work of planting and harvesting rice.

Bring on the cycling and the children are starting to feel a little tired and hungry.  A little way into the ride and they are demanding a lunch stop so Noom obliges with a perfectly timed stop at a roadside grill.  BBQ chicken, lamb, prawns and oddly enough eggs are hungrily eaten and declared delicious and the original local redbull is tried and declared disgusting!  We ride on to our pickup point (I should point out at this time that the length of each day can be extended or shortened, so if you think your kids want more or less, that can all be fitted into the plan.)  That night was spent in an idyllic bamboo lodge where they served dinner outside your room and thai massages were part of the package.  I’m sure the picture doesn’t do it justice, but the surroundings really were beautiful.

Man talk to tourists, woman work the fields!
Man talk to tourists, woman work the fields!
Bamboo lodge in beautiful surroundings
Bamboo lodge in beautiful surroundings

Day 4 is a rest day, well of sorts.  No bike riding today, today we ride something

Mmmmm I love a nice mud bath
Mmmmm I love a nice mud bath

altogether larger and more unpredictable.  Today is elephant mahout day.  We met our elephants, making friends by using a bunch of bananas and then proceed to be shown how to ride by sitting on the neck locking our knees behind their ears.  The kids and Sarah look fine, but I was feeling distinctly unstable as they gave me the largest elephant and it looked like a very long way to fall.

Mmmmm I love digging in the mud
Mmmmm I love digging in the mud

So off into the hills we go about an hour until lunch and I’m finding inner thigh muscles that I didn’t know existed

(oh boy this is going to hurt tomorrow I think).  After lunch, we proceed to give one of the elephants a mud bath, or was the elephant giving us a mud bath, I can’t be sure really, but she certainly seemed to enjoy lying there while we shoveled mud unto her.

I think this mud sets off my hair colour
I think this mud sets off my hair colour

Once done, it was a long ride down to the river where we gave the elephants and ourselves a much needed bath before heading back to the ranch for showers, cold drinks and souvenirs of photos in frames made out of elephant poo!






Day 4Day 5 and I’m right, riding an elephant uses muscles that nothing else does!  Today really is a tourist cycling day.  We start at an umbrella factory where we get to paint our own umbrellas and have the real artists paint designs on anything you own.  A great opportunity for a truly unique iPhone or camera case.  Then we’re off on the final stage of the journey.  Luka is complaining that either his bike needs oil or he does and we put it down to him being tired at the end of the week especially after his sandbagging on day 3 where he hung back all day before charging ahead with 2km to go!  Much later after he has ridden most of the day with my hand on his back, we identify that in fact the front brake has been rubbing all day, I knew I should have checked that in the morning, oh well, a good workout for me.

Miles and miles of empty countryside
Miles and miles of empty countryside

We had a quick stop at a tin/silver factory to check out those lovely designs that you haggle over at Thai markets and to buy a few things at a fraction of the price that you could even haggle the market dealers down to.  This brings us on to lunch.  After 4 days Noom has realised that we’re not interested in finding anything even remotely western and we want to try the real local food and so we stop at a little roadside eatery where we get the most exquisite Northern Thai curry I’ve ever tasted it’s called Khoa Soi and is much more subtle than the usual red or green curries.  And so to the end, a total of 121km ridden and we finish at a local hot springs where we can shower, bathe in the hot spring fed swimming pool, and then cook some eggs in the boiling spring water as it bubbles out of the outlet.  It is a great way to finish the day, before Noom and Thai drop us off at our hotel back in Chiang Mai.

Fantastic job SpiceRoads, a thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended family trip.