Riding bikes is awesome

I thought I would reinforce the obvious there because apparently I myself have forgotten it.  On Sunday I tried to go for a bike ride, and I made the colossal mistake of trying to drive to my start point in the early afternoon.  What’s the problem you ask?

Songkran.  Songkran is a Thai festival celebrating the traditional Thai new years.  Which in Pattaya means a week plus of insane tourists and Thai facilitators clogging the streets and shooting or throwing water on everything and everybody in sight.

Needless to say I made it about 500m before I lost my willingness to crawl through gridlock to get out of town to ride.  So I bailed and tried again on Monday.  I left a little earlier (ten-ish) and got out of town before the psycho’s were awake.  And the ride was amazing.  I was trying out a new route (really an extension of a route I’d done before) that I had only done a map reconnaissance of (which is even more ill advised in Thailand than in the States, more on that later) but it worked out well.

Here’s the map overview of the route:

Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 4.55.15 PMScreen shot 2013-04-15 at 4.55.36 PM

The route was fantastic – good roads, little traffic, great elevation changes, and nice scenery.  Unfortunately for you I forgot to charge my camera battery so I couldn’t take any pictures.  I really wish I had taken some pictures though.  The Eastern Seaboard area of Thailand – outside of the cities – is a place of rolling hilly vistas covered in green jungle and dotted with clusters of coconut palms.  Sprinkled along the roads and in the hollows of the hills are tapioca fields and small pulp wood and rubber plantations.  Add in the roadside shrines, housedold water buffaloes tethered along the roads and small roadside stands and businesses and it’s a fascinating place to explore by bike.

The weather was amazing too.  Very warm and humid but with the wind from moving it was really pleasant and the solid overcast kept the unforgiving hot season sun from baking me alive.  However, I did forget to use any sunscreen so I got a pretty solid “cyclist’s tan” sunburn.  Not that I could download them since I still haven’t found my download cable.

Let’s get to the data.

Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 9.40.38 PM


Three points to finish up:

  1. Map reconnaissance.  It is a truism that you should never go anywhere for the first time.  On this ride I was actually trying to follow a course that I created on the computer and downloaded to my Garmin.  I’d ridden about half the route before as part of another ride but I had never been on the other half.  Overall it worked out great.  The “Do Course” function on the Garmin worked pretty well and I had two missed turns and one non existent road.  The latter was a little concerning but only cost me about half to three quarters of a mile to find out the road didn’t exist and ended up with about two extra miles total.  I was able to continue riding and figure out a way to close the loop without too much trouble.  Although I was a little worried for a bit.  Let’s take a look at the planned course:      Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 11.23.10 PM                                 And let’s look at that actual route map again for comparison:Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 4.55.15 PM
  2. Pauses and enjoying the moment.  If you look at my data up there, you’ll see that there’s about 8-minutes of elapsed time that I wasn’t moving.  That was a stop at about the halfway mark to buy a water and a Snickers bar.  I have a bad habit of putting a lot of pressure on myself to always be moving when I go for rides, even long rides (not that this was a particularly long ride) and I have this mental schema that you’re not supposed to stop or unclip or you’re somehow cheapening the event.  Which is ridiculous and unfounded.  It’s a completely internal mental hang-up that is in direct contradiction to my own experience.  Most of my favorite cycling experiences were long rides with friends where we stopped occasionally or organized rides that had support stations.  You feel better, you can ride longer, and the “hangover” the next day is less intense, meaning that you can get moving again sooner.  So it was really nice to stop, refill my Camelbak and relax for a few minutes while I ate a candy bar.  Overall, I did a really good job with hydration and nutrition on this ride (timer on my Garmin and some PB&J and PB& Nutella sandwiches).
  3. Regret.  This is the longest ride I’ve taken in 2-years (since my training the the Memorial Herman).  Think I’m exaggerating?  Here’s a shot of my last longer ride: Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 9.39.42 PM                            It’s also one of less than 10 rides I’ve done outside on the roads in the 18-months I’ve been in Thailand.  I have a ton of great excuses for that but the real reason is just that I’m lazy.  Not too lazy to workout, just too lazy to get up, pack my stuff, get out of the house and go find a place to ride.  But I had such a great time on this ride that I’m kicking myself for all the time and opportunities I’ve wasted since I’ve been here that I could have been out on the road.  Inexcusable.  No more!  (No more avoiding, NOT no more riding.  Definitely more riding.)

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