Topic author: Big & Tall
Subject: Slippin & slidin thru the jungle
Posted on: 20 Sep 2006 17:52:24
So Silverhawk had heard about a wooden temple stuck in the forest in the Mae Wing valley somewhere. It sounded like a good enough reason to go traipsing through the jungle on motorbikes. The three wise men did not heed the call to go exploring the jungle with him so the back up motley crew of Jeff (Pikey) and Justin (racer55 now big & tall) were wrangled into going with him to experience the off road trails.
On David Uís Mae Hong Son map the route we were looking at taking was CNX on the 108 to Sanpatong, then north on the 1013 to the village of Mae Win. There is a well traveled looking dirt road leading off the east side of the 1013 at Mae Win, complete with a wooden sign over the road. Maybe Silverhawk can chime in with the mileage to this road from Sanpatong up the 1013. Our plan was to take this dirt road, find the wooden temple, then make our way through the jungle and land hopefully in Samoeng.
We met at the Kafe at 10:00 a.m. sharp to keep with David Uís crack of afternoon starts. We wolf down the breakfasts (brunch?) and I notice a puddle of water at my feet. This is Thailand so plumbing and such are not up to western standards, I figure nothing out of the ordinary. We load up and head out on the 108 to Sanpatong. I sip on my technically advanced CamelBack bladder for some water and get zilch, nada. Dry as a cynical bar girl. That puddle at my feet in the Kafe was the Camelback bladder disgorging itself.
There was a viewpoint hidden in the jungle that Silverhawk has plotted on his GPS. No obvious place at all. Pull your bike against the Armco barrier in the middle of a corner and hike through the jungle for 50 yards. Then you come to a rocky overlook about 100 meters high overlooking the Mae Wang river. Awesome. Sadly my mug is filling this shot instead of showing the glorious Mae Wing river behind my left shoulder.
We stopped for some water at the point where we cut off the pavement into the dirt. I put a little bit of water in the camelback and test it out by prodding, compressing and squeezing the thing like 14 year old boy fondling a breast for the first time. It holds the liquid no problem. Fill the thing up again and weíre off. Here's a picture of the store oppisite where you cut off on the dirt road.
Silverhawk stated that if anybody wants to motocross we could ride ahead of him. I had only been on a dirt bike once in the last 5 years and Pikey had not been on one in two years. Instead of motocrossing I think our goal was to keep the bikes upright.
A pick as you pass the elephant camp
The road was graded in the beginning and went through a village and passed through an elephant camp. A couple of KMís pass the elephant camp we hit our first bit of mud and ruts. Instantly all of our bodies and brains were searching for muscles and skills that had not been mustered in quite some time.
Eyes were wide, feet and elbows were everywhere trying to keep the bikes going at least semi straight through the mud. The mud in SEA is something this California Boy has never seen before. Slicker than Teflon, this stuff makes riding a challenge. Poor Silverhawk even had taller gearing on his Djebel for the street that made first gear quite tall and proved a challenge to get up some of the hills. We did not look at all pretty and were laughing at ourselves all the time on this trail. At the rate our back wheels were spinning and sliding sideways I think the rear wheels did 4 times the mileage than the front wheels.
The road is wide enough for a truck or jeep and never narrowed down to ATV or single track width. Though at places branches would surely scratch a truck it was never too narrow to get through. The road is not a proper graded road past the first 2 kilometers at this time. There are stair steps, rocks and ruts to keep you on your toes. There were two sections that had some rock stair steps amongst the mud to keep things interesting. There are signs in Thai available for directions at forks in the road(if you can read Thai). Most of the forks had hill tribe villages (2-4 houses or shacks) nearby so you could ask directions.
Silverhawk conversing with the natives. Either he ask which way to Samueng or if the guy had an unmarried daughter. Judging by the Thai smiles I think I know what it came out as.
After looking up a couple different forks we never managed to find our wooden temple. That just gives us an incentive to come back and explore some more trails.
We stopped a couple times for a breather, there is a nice wooden shelter with benches to take a water break or a fag break if youíre Pikey.
Pikey waxing on elequently about how puffing on fags fosters good dirt bike riding skills.
Watching each other go up and down the rutted trails was pure humor. Cheering each other on as bikes would get cocked at impossible angles slipping and sliding everywhere. Pikey gets the award for having his bike at the most extreme angle without binning it. He looked like a speedway rider going into a turn with the back just about to pass the front. I thought for sure heíd tumble like a sack of potatos, he must have been living right the past week cuz the Gods let him gather his back wheel underneath him and keep on going.
However 8 kilometers from the end of the dirt, karma caught up with Pikey. We were at a fork that led down to a couple houses where we would take a break under a nice tree. I stopped at the fork to make sure Pikey saw which way to turn, he was 30 feet from me and looking suave. I continued on to the tree and missed the best moment of the day (for Silverhawk and I anyway). There was a wooden fence along the trail at this point and Pikey must have seen a lizard on it he wanted to bring home to Kat (his wife)for dinner. His Yamaha also wanted Pikey to catch the lizard so it helped him get the lizard by getting one wheel in one downhill rut and the front in another. This allowed the Yamaha to highside Pikey (still looking suave and sophisticated) into the wooden fence. Silverhawk and I were both saddened as we missed this move of devotion to his spouse. But more importantly no photographic proof of the blunder. What are friends for?
At this time my bollocks started feeling a little moist. Then my legs and and feet were swimming. What the F__k!! Once again the Camelback let lose like a 1 year old's bladder thatís been hydrating, and filled my pants and boots with a few liters of water. Silverhawk was laughing at my soggy ass and I just knew my crotch would be steaming like in a sauna soon enough. After a rest under a large oak tree for snacks, water, and Pikey to suck on his ciggy it was a left at the fork and 7 km of easy graded dirt road back into Samueng for a late lunch. Loads of fun and laughs all about as we broke the dirt hymen on this trip.
Then we took one of the best sportbike roads, the 1096 from Sameung to Mae Rim and the 107 back into Chiang Mai. The 1096 flows so well with good pavement that it is top of the charts for sportbike (or feathering the edges of your knobbies) fun.
This was the perfect ride for a 250 four stroke enduro bikes. The off road was not overly technical, and the pavement not high speed. The one variable is weather. The rain can make this road a piece of cake or challenge depending on when it rained last. It had rained in the last two days and made the ruts very slippery on some portions. The dry sections were easy and loads of fun. Others have made this loop on larger bikes (KTM 950 in the dry). Mileage total was 84 miles back to Chiang Mai.
Thanks guys for letting me tag along.