Adventures, Races, Kit and Life
As the truck winds 1,200m up into the luscious green mountains surrounding Chang Mai I am secretly a little nervous.
Suddenly it seems a touch higher than I remembered…. On this occasion I am not nervous for myself but for my dad. I have convinced him that as we are on “the babies first holiday” in Chang Mai, it would be a great idea for us man folk to nip off for a few hours and hire some serious downhill mountain bikes and head up into the hills for a new experience for him and a little dose of adrenaline.
I have completed the course before and remembered the “4X”, although classified as “expert” to be quite manageable, and have made the decision that’s it’s a better option than risking a medium grade and being stuck behind “driving miss daisy” novices. But, but dad is 65 years old. He’s fit as a fiddle and a decent road biker, but admittedly the last time he did mountain biked with me on Hong Kong’s fairly easy Tai Lam trail, he did come off…. He was grazed and a little bruised, but he did seem very happy though!!
There is obviously a fine line between providing dad an awesome new experience and a significantly less awesome Chang Mai hospital experience!!
We are riding with Chang Mai Mountain Biking. They kit you out with reasonable downhill bikes, with huge suspension and weighing more than any bike I’ve picked up before. I am very glad we don’t have to cycle the 1,200m up the mountain to the start. They also give you the helmet and body armour, just in case the rigours of the trail are too much.
Ideally we would have had a guide to ourselves, allowing a bit more flexibility to manage the speed of descent but we are now in a group of 4 riders. We are joined by “Digger” from London and chap from Austria with a very large beard. It turns out that “Austria” moved to Salsberg so that he could downhill mountain bike in the summer and snowboard in the winter, every weekend!! He’s also opted for the 4X route… Mmmm ??
I think back to a T-Shirt I was fond of that stated “No fear. If you are not on the edge you are taking up too much space”. Sounds about right?!? “He who dares wins!” Right Dad ?!?
Dad came off in the first minute ! Not an ideal start. It wasn’t even slightly steep yet !! But after a quick lesson about downhill biking and how to position your body to manage gravity, mainly being “don’t sit down Dad”, we charged off down the trail again.
1,200m of single track descent meandering through dense jungle, bamboo forests, dusty trail, rock ridden trails, panoramic views and all ending with a great bit of lunch. Brilliant !!