Wednesday, December 31, 2008
To backtrack, we rode out of Luang Prabang on the 29th and had a hard day's ride with two large mountain passes with many ripply hills in between. About 50 miles total, over 6000 feet of climbing, including a 15 and 25 k climb and comparably long descents. I was still feeling rather poorly, but did the ride, going unbelievably slowly. It was so gorgeous, photos to come. One of the most lovely days of riding I've done in a long time. We spent the night at Kiu Kachan, a truck stop town on top of the mountain. The views were amazing, but the facilitieswere a bit limited. My tummy troubles reactivated during the night and I did not enjoy leaving the room with a flashlight to use shared rural toilets!!! Multiple times! Ughhhh!
The next day was another hard day and I was not in a happy place. I did most of the ride, but skipped one of the climbs, electing to ride in our truck and nap instead. I did make the most of the super long descents, which had frequent patches of unpaved road which were fun to hammer through on the mountain bike.
OK, must get ready for our New Year's eve dinner. Ben our guide has procured lao lao (rice liquor homebrew) mixed with goat's blood for the festivities. Not sure I'll try this one, but I am hoping Sue will! Dan is still feeling the effects of his cold and may stay in for the night. I'll be having an early night as well!
Happy New Years! And I will post again, probably in a couple of days from Vientiane.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I feel a lot better today, though still not eating much, and I plan to ride tomorrow, but may not make it through the entire day which features a 3000 foot vertical climb at the end of nearly 50 miles of hilly riding. Dan has a mild cold, and is quite fatigued but has been riding. Quite a lot of the group has caught this cold, one guy opting to fly out early today rather than continue.
Map of our trip, prepared by Peter.
Our first rest stop in Thailand was at a gorgeous temple complex up on a hill over looking the river. there were dozens of these statues, and several wat as well.
Dan and Sue on the prow of the boat. The pilot of the boat let us sit out there, even though it is apparently less than legal. It was a terrific view! The slow boat was really scenic, and we passed numerous villages, observing fishing, farming, washing and other village activities on the shore. I spent most of the 7 hour trip looking at the view.
Kids running to see us in Ban Faen. Our tour company has provided charitable support to this village,including aid in building the school structure in the rear of the photo. We were treated to some Lao dancing by adorable little girls and given flowers.
Kids at the school.
Young monks cycling. The monk on the right was leaping aside to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic, but the the left hand monk hung in for the photos. They spoke decent English and we chatted a bit.
Getting warm during a long rest stop in the rain. We had quite a wait for the slower riders and for our support truck, so joined these villagers around their fire. Peter in our group helped saw some wood.
Bamboo bridge across one of the two rivers that surround Luang Prabang. It seemed terribly fragile and I tried to keep my feet over the supporting bamboo bits.
Dan in the day market. He bought a big bag of what he thought was persimmons (orange things) but turned out to be something inedible and hard that is meant to use to brew a medicinal tonic. As he was crunching into the first one, a women advised us that they were inedible. ooop!
OK, must have dinner. next post possibly in Vientiane.
Monday, December 22, 2008
this will be short. We are in Chiang Khong across the border with
Laos (pictured, Laos is, as seen from our hotel room). We'll cross
into Laos tomorrow and take a boat ride down the Mekong.
First full day of riding today. It was fun, hot, mostly gentle
rolling with a couple of short steep hills. Traffic was limited to
mostly motorbikes with smiling people shouting hello to the riders.
More detail from Internet cafe, probably in two days.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
flight. After lunch, which included some yummy gelatinous desserts, we picked up the bikes. Sue and I elected to rent mountain bikes which were deemed by the tour group to be more suitable for rough roads in Laos. Dan brought along his Ritchey breakaway road bike.
After a bike fit mini-drama, with Sue's first bike being teensy and some fit tweaking for me, we set off on a little ride. Once again, we gravitated to the food (local market, pictured), tasting tamarinds, sticky rice prepared in sugar cane leaves, and gawking at the insects and larvae (pictured, lower). After a visit to a local temple, we managed to get totally lost as it was getting dark. We asked for directions a couple of times (Dan cleverly showed photos of our destination to bridge the language barrier) and made it back ok. A fun shake-down ride! Ok, time to eat roasted chestnuts from the market.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We've also done some exploring, along with Sue who also arrived on Thursday. Friday was a veritable templefest- Wat Pho, Wat Aran, and the royal palace (photo is from one of the dozens of structures in the palace). We could climb up Wat Aran which was wildly exciting! Bad photo from this in the next post. We recovered from temple overload by riding river ferries and taking a dragon boat ride in the canals.
Saturday we went to the incredible Chatachak market- 8000+ vendors in an outdoor market selling anything and everything. Plus thousands and thousands of shoppers. Really cool and I wish I had a photo of some of the stalls to share. Then to Lampini Park where we found an international street performance festival attended mostly by locals. Today, we join the bike tour and fly off to northern Thailand to start riding towards Laos. More later if I have internet access.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
realized at three pm that our flight was that night, not Wednesday
The flight was otherwise uneventful and we are laying over here en
route to Bangkok. More interesting photos to come
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The cross season was really fun and way too short, especially because I missed a ton of the early races because I was sick. I ended up doing 5 races- 3 super prestige and 2 of the Livermore series.
I tried something different at the last BASP race at Coyote Point- pushed hard in the first lap to stay with riders who were going pretty hard, and rode much of the race with folks in view (ahead or behind) to keep me motivated. I went a lot harder and was really happy with the race.
Overall, I had a good time, overcame some of my pre-race apprehension (last year I dreaded racing, though loved it once I got going. This year, I looked forward to racing much more) and generally had greater confidence. Technical stuff seemed easier and my mounts/dismounts were smoother, though I was still covered with mystery bruises after every race from smashing into the bike while racing. Things to do differently next year-- more intensity training prior to the season for sure. I'll need all the help I can get in the Bs (or possibly masters) next year.
This was a strange year for me, with shifting plans and goals. I started the year with a road race, felt it went rather poorly and launched on an organized training program, my first ever in my life. While I enjoyed this a LOT (I love having a plan, and especially loved weight lifting), I really really missed my long and/or fast group rides with friends (which didn't fit well in the training plan, or were not so much fun due to tired legs from the training plan, etc). I also didn't start mountain biking. Generally, failed miserably to balance the training and the fun part of riding. And I didn't do any racing all summer long, which sort of negated the hard work I had been doing. All in all, a little unsatisfying and I hope to do a bit of thinking about my goals and plans next year before embarking on a similar training effort. For now, I'm planning to do some of the early birds and start mountain biking in January. And yes, probably some weight lifting as well because I really love it. And more riding with friends this year for sure.