I love cycling, I believe I must have been born to cycle, following my Grandfather’s love for the sport along with my great aunt Dora. Being a one car family and moving 27 km away from my place of work, made cycling an interesting option as a mode of transport to work. Buying another car was simply out of the question, and why would anybody in their right mind want to add to the already frightening pollution levels of Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. Plus, cycling to work meant not having to wait in the traffic jams while breathing the swirling pollutants being draw into the car via the air conditioning.
At first and even now, I am not really fully acquainted with the roads in and around Bang Yai, not that I really like to admit to that. Bang Yai, as I have discovered is a cyclist paradise, with clean air, quiet roads and colourful garden centres virtually on every bend. Lots of khlongs to cycle along where fishing is carried out by the young and old. Everything about cycling around this area is at present exciting and new, although up to press I have not seen any snakes yet, well, not ones that slither out of the roadside. I’ve seen plenty of squashed ones though.
Cycling to work, means getting up at 6 o’clock or thereabouts, and being ready to set off on my 27km (16.7 miles) by half past six. Although on a road bike I can cycle this in just over an hour and on my mountain bike in an hour and twenty minutes. I don’t have to be at work until 8:30, but this gives me time just in case I have punctures and have to fix them. The traffic congestion can be another problem, and there is taking a shower and having breakfast before work resumes.
After leaving the confines and security of my estate, I turn right and cycle along the 5035 road. Turning left would take me on towards the Natcha Village. This is a very quiet road with some interesting lily ponds and back roads waiting to be explored.
Eventually I hit the busier 1001 road, passing the beautiful looking Wat Pamaneekarn temple complex. I cycle on this road for about 300 metres before turning right onto the Nonthaburi 3035 Road (a connection road) this is wide enough for one vehicle, with some rather badly repaired road surfaces along the way. After just over a kilometre I hit the 1011 road, where I turn right again. This goes on for about a kilometre before I turn left down the Soi Wat Mai Phadungkhet Road, This, is easily spotted as there is a lovely archway, but again the road is narrow. After cycling for another kilometre, I hit 5029 Road. Here I turn right, if I turn left this will lead me onto the Soi Wat Mai Phadungkhet, temple complex, again another example of a beautiful looking temple complex can look like.
The 5029 road is a long straight road and much busier than the previous ones and for some crazy reason attracts drivers who want to speed. The setting here is however quite nice. Yellow trumpet trees, and Ratchaphruek trees line the route, when these were in bloom in March, it was a fantastic view. The road has the Nonthaburi – Bangkok Khlong running parallel to it, occasional entertaining water hyacinth, and beyond that is the railway line taking trains to the west from Bangkok, passengers mostly travel 3rd class.
This road in a morning is graced with monks walking on their merit collections to cyclists going about their business. Sometimes there was an old lady sweeping the side of the road near land I presume belonged to her down near the khlong.
After about a kilometre and a half I hit traffic coming from the other side as it merged with mine, turning left I cycled up and over a bridge, the Soi Sala Thammasop 48, Traffic normally queued here to clear the distant junction and to pass the railway crossing. If a train was approaching the queue could be quite tedious, thank God I was cycling.
At the junction I turned left, onto the Soi Sala Thammasop Road. A busy road now carrying traffic across to Salaya from Phuttamathan Sai 3 Road. I joined the Phuttamathan Sai 3 Road and headed out for the Bang Waek Road, cycling south. This was the most dangerous part of my journey, not just because now I was cycling on a three-way carriage way, but not too far was the junction for the 338 road, a road that I don’t think I will ever be able to pronounce correctly ‘Borommaratchachonnari Road, simply to many consonants. Approaching this road, I needed to move to my right to go over the road in question, a challenging proposition in the first place, especially with the traffic that bombed along and changed lanes in the process.
Once at the other side the next hazard was the number of cars that stopped to give offerings to the monks. It wasn’t the monks that were the problem but the drivers. So eager, they just flung their car doors open in a race to get out. Regardless of any cyclists.
I’d seen cyclist having to swerve severely before now, so as not to get hit by car doors. On reaching the Bang Waek Road I turn right, this is rather a quiet road, lined with timber yards, with guard dogs on the prowl. Sometimes you just have to kick out at them before they scare you silly, as they attempt to bite you. You have to remember that attack is sometimes the best form of defence. Dog simply come bounding straight out at you, barking aggressively, you never know what their intentions are, but at the back of your mind you know cars are coming fast from behind you and if the drivers as in so many occasions are on their mobiles they simply aren’t concentrating on what they are doing.
Bang Waek is an old road, it is narrow and in parts congested with school traffic, local shoppers, taxis following songthaewls in pursuit of passengers. At the junction with Phuttamathan Sai 2 road, I just simply wait at the traffic lights and wait for them to change, knowing that really I should not be crossing the road here, but all the motorbike do.
Soon after I hit the ring road, Kanchanaphisek Road. Here I turn right but not into on coming traffic, just onto the pavement and then cycle on towards the foot bridge. There is always a couple of motorcycle taxis waiting there, who generally give me strange looks with all my gear on. After cycling across the foot bridge, I commence my cycle now on the much busier stretch of the Bang Waek Road, until I reach Ratchaphruek Road. This stretch of the Bang Waek Road is always a problematic area having to cross the road with parked cars and God knows what to contend with.
Eventually, I reach the busy Ratchaphruek Road, by now I’m all hot and sweaty, with my hair all mattered up and sweat running down my face occasionally going into my irritating then immensely. Again, as the road suggests, it is lined with beautiful trees that are in bloom during the month of March, as yellow blossom lines the central reservation.
My cycle to work now nearly complete, just a cycle to the next foot bridge and then after crossing it, heading out for the Bencha Alley, which means cycling into the oncoming traffic. The Bencha Alley is a village road which takes me through the poorer neighbourhoods that are at the back of my university complex. Later, the road connects with the Phetkasem 36 Alley Lane 1, this in parts is incredibly narrow, with small bridges that span disused and abandoned khlongs (canals) and trees that grow rampant along the way creating much needed shade. This road leads me to the university.