After covering everyone in little bits of white ranting froth recently about Gram induced FOMO, I conveniently left out that plans were being slowly crafted for Dirty Mega March The THIRD. I’m not sure what it is about March, but it tends to be a magnet for Radness. Granted, 2016 went out with more of a whimper than the sonic BOOM of 2015, but it appears that 2017 will get the Mega Madness vibe back on track.
However, before we can have DMM3, or DMMIII if you must, there of course needs to be the Pre-Season Camp. Ignoring the risky nature of putting ‘Pre’ and ‘camp’ in the same sentence for a moment, the #SwissMissile and I decided that we needed to find a location that was significantly more congruent with what we would find on the EWS circuit than what Bali offered… Sure, comparing Bali to La Thuile is like saying if you did ok on a reality TV show then surely you can be President, but the reality is always a brutal slap in the face that you end up regretting as shit goes sideways.
Given this is a mini series format for the first mini mission of 17, I’ll offer up a retrospective Dirty step by step on how it rolled in Chiang Mai should you be curious about heading to the Golden Triangle.
Step 1 – Invade Old Town: This is the part where I’m supposed to write something semi knowledgable about how Old Town in Chiang Mai got its name… Summary: Moat, relatively big wall and bad guys wanting to fuck shit up back when pillaging was hot. History lesson & cultural obligation complete, all we were really focused on was unpacking ENDURO weaponry and dominating our modern and mildly chic boutique hotel. The towel elephant smashing it out of the park.
Step 2 – Vaguely explore Old Town: I really just mean the street the hotel is on to find a 7/11, and whilst doing so, be utterly amazed to the point of bewilderment at the sheer volume of white ghost foreigners drifting around… Seriously what the fuck, there’s approx a 3 to 1 ratio of tourists and pony tail wearing ex-pats (bonus sighting if they were wearing local garb which resembled pyjamas), to the point where the block we were in may as well have been an EU compound.
Good news is I now know exactly where to come when I reincarnate as a German lesbian, which is first equal on my list with ‘Fighter Pilot’. Additional bonus points for dining in the most exceedingly westernised ‘Thai’ restaurant you can find as you shake nervously at the fear of food poisoning.
Step 3 – Get out of Old Town: For this you’ll need a hook up, unless you’re super adventurous or like everyone else around these parts, trying to ‘find yourself’ by riding around on a scooter without a helmet but with designer sunnies instead, then you’ll want to hook up with someone who know’s wassup… And has the right set up to facilitate your froth:
The SwissMissile had hooked us up with Damian from Mojo Adventures. Given his Aussie heritage, Damian quickly became “Damo maaaaaaate“, a colloquial face fuck I’m sure he appreciated on the inside.
As per the brief from the sMissile, we had headed out of town to essentially the middle of nowhere… No, this isn’t me being a vague cunt, this is more a rare moment where I respect the wishes of Damo and redact the exact specifics of where we were and what we were riding on, including having to privatise our Strava uploads… Which meant I really had to have a second thought about whether or not it was actually worth riding… Or even getting out of the truck.
After getting over my upload fever tantrum, it was time to get rolling on the CM Adventure – Start point, well, somewhere around here:
Damo may have been sicker than a Dingo with syphilis on this particular day (Like legitimately sick, not MTB speak for ‘rad’ or ‘you sick cunt’), but that didn’t stop him fronting up to lead us to the Thai promised single track. I was intrigued as to what this was going to look like given none of it was purpose built and clearly we weren’t in a bike park… Hello obscure and hard to find trails!
God damn, there’s trails in them there hills! And elevation! And runs that go for longer than 2 minutes! Whilst things were very much in ‘trail mode’, which is cuntspeak for ‘not massive with gnar‘, it was fucking rad to be back on the Hightower, on dry trails and doing ones best to carve blind turns. I shared the usual celebration with Damo immediately, in spite of his instance to die a slow death from the lurgy:
Step 4 – Bring your climbing legs: I’m the first one to unleash a passive aggressive grizzle when the volume of climbing starts to creep outside ENDURO boundaries, but in this instance I was quick to confess that, fuck, I need the training. Which, given this was in theory a camp for such antics, it was time to embrace it.
Flick the Fox Float X into trail mode and the Hightower is like an angry tractor on the climbs, even up some steep shit that I thought I had zero chance of mastering and it just grinds it out with a steadiness that’s even more impressive when you consider how much I’ve jacked up the front end with the 160mm fork and a few spacers. But, like a stiffy, what goes up…
Step 5 – General guide harassment: It wasn’t just the climbs the Hightower was eating up, this Thai terrain was extremely susceptible to being mistreated by the big wheels and sweet chassis. I didn’t mean to cut Damo up like an origami dildo, but slowing the big beast down when it was getting loose on it wasn’t that easy… Resulting in some unscheduled chopping up of a Bronson mounted Damo, lets call it now: 27.5 is dead.
And yes, for those currently enduring a Wellington Summer or Northern winter, these trails are indeed as dry as they look. Fucking dust, over it. The only moisture to be seen was from the boys frothing.
Must be about time in the post for a wanky SC fan boi bike pic right? (And no cunts, I’m not a fucking dentist but thanks for asking). The Thai jungle providing plenty of opportunity for that kind of porn. As they say, its a dry heat, but ironically this thing indicates moistness:
Seriously though, this was a great bike to bring to this terrain… Sure, I hadn’t explored its outer performance limits yet due to the low level of gnar, one may even have gotten away with a Tallboy 3 with a 140mm fork I suspect, but I was having a ripping time nonetheless. In fact, we were having so much guide harassing fun that we fingered DAMO’s rear wheel. The irony was not lost on me that I had asked him how those Easton wheels were at the start of the ride… I helped out in my usual fashion:
Step 6 – Concrete and Waterfalls: Without question the highlight of the first taste of Thai was the final descent of the day, not only was it the best trail, but thanks to the power of uplift, we got two bites at the Thai pie, which is excellent from a ‘sight it and then smash it’ scenario. Its first peculiarity however was random sections of… Well, concrete… Yes, the shit that comes out of a mixer… And yes, in the middle of nowhere.
As the story goes, a lot of these trails are carved out by locals riding their cunted old Yamaha scooters from village to village, which is great in terms of laying down a path, but also explains the smoothness of a lot of the trails we had encountered. What happens in the wet season? They basically go full gas and like to dig out a nice big trench by giving not only zero fucks, but a full dose of throttle uphill. Result? Once the trench makes scooter commuting a life threatening activity, in comes the trail pixies with… Concrete. I’m going on about it a bit here as A) It was random AF given we were in the middle of nowhere and B) It has a certain ‘fuck me’ factor when you transition from dirt to concrete that’s hidden with leaves.
Hop tip – Steady state FTP intervals on the road bike aren’t going to help you as much as you thought when you have to get out of the seat and sprint a lot… Which was something sections of these trails demanded. Good for training and all that…
I’d waited most of the day to see an elephant, but all I got was this fucking waterfall… I therefore did the tourist thing and took 19 shit photos of it in case it suddenly changed. Oddly there were no takers for the rampage line down the outside on the left.
The re-run of the final DH was a great blast, mainly as it was approaching golden hour, but also due to the mildly EWS style format of one sighting run and then smash it. Admittedly “Smash it” was paused from my perspective when approaching the starfish puckering concrete sections, which on this run were lovingly well stocked with slippery leaves:
But the plentiful sections that were free from man made interventions were glorious. Again, not filled with rock gardens or features, but some excellent high speed flow weaving through the trees as the sun went down made for a focused 8km run.
It was so much flowing fun that the SwissMissile took the post run pump extremely seriously, all while confirming his CHiPs look with the new Switchblade…
A fucking solid day out when you take into account the commute, the morning session and then the shuttle induced re-run. Throw in general stokeage at being back in the hills and that Damo didn’t care how often we used ‘cunt’ in a sentence maaaaate, and everyone was feeling chuffed enough for a contrived golden hour photo:
Step 7 – Cheap AF beers with the Bru’s: How’s that for a heading that’s rammed full of more cliche’s than that millennial cousin you fucking loathe and want to dry shave? But when in mountainous Thai terrain with your Aussie guide, its time to park up and get into some solid shit talking after a few Leo’s have been drained…
Whilst I can’t give the full run down of where and how, with the Strava map embargoed, here’s an elevation chart which does little to enlighten, particularly as fuck me if the climbs didn’t feel a lot harder than this chart gives them credit for:
And to round out part 1, how about the accommodation for the evening given we were staying “out of town” for day 2, a Swiss set up no less and under the heading of ‘Last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of Thai nowhere’, one that happened to be perhaps the most eclectic bike collector I’ve probably met. Just none you’d probably want to ride.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which involves the discovery of shuttle induced radness, checking out some nasty Thai gash and of course the inevitable dirty video to come.