|04-16-2015, 08:32 AM||#1|
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Bagram, AFG
Pattaya - Enduro Madness ride
I took a vacation to the land of smiles (Thailand) from my work overseas and decided to take a day to do some enduro riding since my bike is at home hibernating in the garage. I read on a couple forums that enduro-madness.com in Pattaya was not too bad for a riding experience and I remembered seeing a few signs for their tours from my previous trip.
It was the day before my last full day of vacation and I called their number to make sure they were touring the next day. They replied “Yes, we ride everyday” in good English (talking on the phone can be quite difficult given the language barrier). I made a 1000baht deposit/reservation on the ride for the next day through their website and went out for the night. I told my friends that I’d have to call it a night fairly early because the shuttle was picking me up at the hotel at 0930 the next morning. Well 0100 quickly became 0200, which turned into 0230 before heading back to the hotel. Finally around 0300 I crashed out for the night.
At 0845 I got a call saying they were confirming I was riding that day and the shuttle would be leaving soon to pick me up. At 0900 the shuttle arrived and I stumbled on board with a bottle of water in hand trying to flush the previous night out of my system. I met a nice guy named William from Malaysia who spoke better English than most US citizens. He was doing a 3 hour tour, while I signed up for a full day. After a 30 minute ride from my beachfront hotel to the establishment we disembarked and were greeted by some of the staff as some of the mechanics worked on some ATVs and motorcycles in the carport/garage area. Upon settling up with the bean counter (roughly 4500 baht) I was told to strip by one of the female employees… to get fitted out for our gear (there is no shyness here). I quickly was suited up in some Alpinestar MX gear (mostly) and a decent helmet with the assistance of their helpful staff.
As William finished getting ready I went out to inspect my bike. We were on a Honda 250 CRFs and my bike looked to be in good working order (good tires, new chain, throttle worked, etc); it was clean, but well used. William came out and we started playing follow the leader down the street with our two guides (which was the theme for nearly the entire ride). We quickly arrived at a park area to quickly access our riding skills. I am quite a ways from good on dirt, but firmly in the competent riding range. We were quickly split up into two groups and I only saw William one more time that day.
My tour guide, who I’ll call Bob because we didn’t talk much to get each other’s names, took me on some single track trails sparsely littered with trees to start me out. I had to relearn some of my forgotten dirt skills and stop using my front brake as much (or at all) from my street riding days. We rode all morning and after about two hours I was tired and ready for a break. We continued on and ran up a trail to the top of this big hill and took a short break then back down again.
We rode to a restaurant at an intersection out in the middle of nowhere for lunch where we were waited on by a cute Thai girl (sorry no pics). As we ordered food the skies opened up and it started pouring down rain. I had a tasty chicken burger (grilled chicken sandwich) and Bob had some traditional Thai food of mainly vegetables and rice. We had some awesome ice cream for dessert and headed out to the bikes as the rain let up (thankfully).
I was very concerned about riding in the rain/post rain fields and trails, but I was re-energized with food and a rest so I drove on into the remaining sprinkles and puddles. After about 10 minutes of riding in the rain I was comfortable and was riding faster than before. The rain turned all the sand into a non-sticking mud and I found the bike had more traction now than before unless we got into the grass. The rain also made it easier for me to see Bob’s turns onto different routes but with my increased speed I overshot a few intersections forcing me to double back or sometimes having to ride my bike out of a farmer’s pineapple field. The puddles and farm roads covered in moving water wasn’t too bad to negotiate until we headed down an smaller trail which had a lot of standing water encompassing the width of the trail. Bob powered through it and water was just below his exhaust as he crossed. This was my biggest fear with the rain - that I’d dump the bike in some deep water or flood it or both. Bob stopped after crossing and signaled that it was my turn. I got a decent run at the water, blindly forgetting which side Bob took, and told myself to keep the gas on and not fall over... and I should be okay. I made it across without much of a problem. I was so ecstatic that it was some time before realizing that I overshot the turn that Bob took after the water and was sailing down the road without him. We encountered a couple more deep crossings like that, some with considerably less warning, but we powered through them all safely to the other side.
Towards the end of the day Bob took us up a bigger hill via trails that had been completely washed out and were giant ruts as deep as the bike. I had to get Bob to help me with a couple of these paths as if you got off track just a few inches you’d be in a rut within a rut and unable to move forward or backward. We made it to the top with a great view of the high-rises at the beach and the sea. The decent was significantly easier terrain than the ascent, but it smoked my shoulders, arms, and hands. At the bottom we took a break and Bob pointed at my hands while making an open and closing motion with his hands and said “no power” which was funny and true.
At the end of the day we stopped by a supermoto course which had a guy in full leathers flogging a classic scooter around the track. We watched a couple laps in amazement and headed back to the shop to conclude our day. I stripped off the upper portion of my gear and one of the girls helped me with my boots and pointed to the bathroom and said shower. After my shower there was water waiting for me and I got dressed. While I was awaiting my shuttle I checked out the early 2000s R1 someone had across the street. Bob told me it was one of the mechanics and I told him I had one at home but a couple generations newer. He brought out his phone and showed me pictures of him racing at the enduro-cross championships in Thailand,now I don't feel so bad for not keeping up with him ALL DAY. Shortly afterwards the shuttle arrived and I said goodbye to Bob and went back to my hotel for another shower and an epic nap.
Overall I thought this was a great experience for 5500THB (roughly 180 USD depending on conversion rates). Enduro-madness wasn’t really uptight about the condition of the bike upon return as I had dumped it a few times and they didn’t say anything to me about it afterwards. The staff was friendly and helpful (like most Thais are) and if I go back I’ll definitely hit them up again for another tour. Next time I'll definitely get more sleep the night before and eat breakfast before riding in the morning.
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