Downhill in Chiang Mai

While in CM I couldn’t hesitate to do some extreme sports. After renting a motorbike and organizing my excursion all by myself, this time I trusted specialists and booked a trip advertising itself as coolest downhill in Thailand. Although having little experience to activites of this sort, I decided to take on the route for experts, called The Hunters escape route. The difference of levels was 1200 meters. And it was to be done in less than 3 hours on mostly advanced technical single track surrounded by thick forest and paved by stones and roots.
The next day a van picked us up, and for the third day in a row, I went to Doi Suthep.
Though I had never been there before, we were brave and headed for the very top of the mountain. I’d like to note that the road at times was too narrow to accomodate a car and a motorbike, not to mention two cars at the same time.
After a briefing we were divided into groups. Most of people took easier tracks, and it turned out that in my group was just… one more guy – from Holland, and a guide. The bikes were very professional, and so was the equipment. I never went that well armored before.
We started easy, with paved route. It was wet though, and in some parts moss was integral part of asphalt. I got my first lesson when trying to negotiate the corner too fast, and ended up with 180 degrees drift. But nothing happened and we kept going, bearing in mind that the speed that our guide was taking the corners might not be appropriate for us.
We arrived at coffee plantation, and after a quick candy bar proceeded for adventure. I have to say it was one of most demanding tasks I’ve been through for a long time. The uphill parts were so steep that you need to carry the bike, and since you are fully armored, temperature is above 30 degrees, and the surface is full of wet roots, the scale of difficulty can be seen. And since I consider my physical condition as very good, I was surpised that in the parts where I was running out of breath, the other guy dutch would proceed with ease.
Downhill parts weren’t easier. Narrow, steep, and slippery tracks were what I came here for. And meter after meter, choosing the best possible path, trying not to kill myself while jumping, and not to lean against the trees too much, I felt deeply concentrated. Now I realize that in the moments that brain perceives like threat to life, it makes you perceive things in slow motion, just to give more time for reaction. Survival mode was fully on. And every stop I would take a heavy breath and trickles of sweat would remind me that I defeated my previous bareer and conquered the fear. In the middle of the ride we ran through the stream. After crossing, it was truly a pleasure taking a break and put a head into ice cold water.
But the amount of heat accumulated in the body was so immense, that the water that was initially very cold on my hair, would start to evaporate once in my beard. Some more kilometers down the hill we made it to the end and, lucky me, the only injury was from handling the grip shifters.
We pedaled to the town to have a meal and for me also celebrate the victory over own limits (or setting them further than I expected them to be).
At the meal the guy from Holland in the course of conversation said that he was a marine, having his vacations in SE Asia. So aparently my condition was not bad at all, it was the bar set so incredibly high. I felt proud of myself to keep up with 29 YO marine, who just recently finished the instructor of martial arts course.

Doi Suthep downhill from arturaroundtheworld on Vimeo.

Here is a sample of whole track (I wish I had a Go Pro with me in that time…)

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