Most cyclists have their own personal challenges and targets that they hope to achieve. I am no different to any other cyclist. I have lived and cycled around Tropical Thailand for over ten years.
My challenge for this cycle was to see if, at the age of 50, could I still step up to the challenge of cycling over 300 km in one day. On record, I had achieved such a feat on at least two occasions, but that was when I was younger.
My challenge was to cycle to the province of Suphanburi and then on to Kanchanaburi. I started my cycle from Nonthaburi. I had no idea how long this cycle would be. I had cycled this same route some years ago, then I had cycled 327km but then I lived in Bangkok.
I started my cycle at around 5:30am, knowing that I had to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Yes, it was dark when I set off. Cycling on the rural roads meant that I could bump into a multitude of creatures, stray or abandoned dogs was my obvious worry, but I knew Nonthaburi had snakes, I’d certainly seen enough of them and I knew that they were cobras in this area.
At around 5:45 I hit the ring road, the road the runs around Bangkok. My aim was to make as much ground as possible. I was well aware that I had not been at my best for the best part of twelve months, but with Thailand experiencing much more refreshing than average temperatures, I simply could not resist the challenge.
The sunrise was magnificent, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. My only concern was, would I be able to complete the cycle that I intended to do. I hit the province of Suphanburi.
Farmers were out spraying their rice crops with chemicals, I knew what was going on, as my wife comes from a rice farming background. This was a process that damaged the wildlife and possibly got into the food chain.
In one part of my cycle through Suphanburi, I cycled over a larger than large khlong (canal). This khlong was overgrown with water hyacinth, a plant that I believed had been brought from Australia, but originally coming from Brazil. There was a man in the water, he looked to have been harvesting something.
Suphanburi was going to offer me a few more surprises too. Further on I came across a marigold farm. Marigolds were growing everywhere and to add to that they were being harvested. No doubt, this crop would help to serve the Buddhist cause. I could not resist taking a photograph or two of all the pickers.
After around 180km I hit the province of Kanchanaburi. This is a beautiful province that offers forests, waterfalls, mountains, breathtaking scenery and of course the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai, a Pierre Boulle novel that attempted to portray the conditions of the construction of the Burma Railway by POW during World War II.
While cycling through Kanchanaburi, I came across rice that was being dried naturally. My wife had explained what was going on when I had seen this occurrence previously. The rice is scattered on the road or flat surface in the sun and the sun naturally dries it out.
I eventually hit the 323 road. By this time, I was conscious of the time. I had attempted to film parts of my journey and track it at the same time, but my camera had stopped working and one of my tracking devices had stopped working. I was aware that my phone was I believed it was still working but had no idea how much battery power there was left.
From the 323 road, I cycled onto the number 4 road (Phetkasem Road) and cycled towards home. I passed the Phra Pathom Chedi, knowing that it was going to get dark soon.
The sun slowly began to dip in the late afternoon sky.
I cycled over the Chin River, it looked magnificent in the failing light with the occasional water hyacinth floating on its surface.
I continued cycling down Phetkasem Road, with dusk now in full flight. I reached Phutthamonthon 4 Road and cycled up it. Soon I would be back onto the quiet rural roads that would lead me back home. Once I got home, I had little power left on my phone. I didn’t feel too bad to say that I had cycled 300.5km in 11 hours and twenty minutes. Not bad for a fifty-year-old.