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Monday, 24 November 2014

Day 24 – Monday, Nov 24 – Flats and more Flats 78km - Luang Namtha to Big Hill – Flag Truck –22.1km/per hour

I planned 175km day today with what I knew would be some big climbs. I woke with the first rooster at 5:30am.  I crossed the street to the market and surveyed my breakfast options.  There was such a heavy mist; I almost thought it was rain.

I left at 7am and was looking forward to the 50km ride to Vieung Phonag (spelling).  It seemed to be smack dap in the middle of Na Ma National Park and there were plenty of sign markers indicating how many kilometers it might be.  (I was hopeful for fancy guesthouses where I’d find cappuccino and perhaps even w-fi.)

I was shaking my head a bit in exhaberation … as I didn’t manage to find a tire shop to fix my tubes yesterday. I had a big day of travel, with a few patches & no extra tubes (without punctures).

I tried to push my pace a bit … but again, found it hard to really speed. The road was terrific – and I enjoyed watching MANY kids cycling to school for the first hour of my ride. (It was sort of neat noticing … the early kids … then the later kids riding their bikes a bit more aggressively. Then later, the kids who had mopads.)
I averaged ~25 km per hour and reached Vieung Phonag (spelling) shortly after 9.

I immediately looked for a tire shop a bit more aggressively. I was told to go back to Luang Namtha. (I’m such an idiot!)

I then found the ‘coolest’ looking place where I thought I’d get coffee and some breakfast.  I tried to communicate that I would like some food. It wasn’t going so well.  I then just walked around … found two eggs, went to a lady who was cutting something that looked like a root vegetable, with some green leaves near by.  I piled it all together … then pointed to her wok … and made a stirring motion. She mixed it all up … added some spices … and it was the best damn omelette I every had!  Coffee was instant … and came with all the sugar and milk in it. Delicious!

I was on my bike again by 9:30am … and climbed and climbed. I was nearly at the top of the summit with 78Km done by 10:45. I was feeling very good about having 75+ km in by 11am … so pulled over to take in the incredible view and shoot a picture.  Along rolled Hero from Japan! 

We had a long chat about cycle touring in Asia, and life in general.  We were about to part ways  after about 75 minutes. It was hot, and I think we both sensed that we had some distance to travel. We exchanged contact info and said good-bye. At last glance, Hero noticed I had a flat on my rear wheel.  How the hell did that happen!!!!?

Hero was very kind … and tried to assist me. We patched, we pumped, we mounted the wheel … over and over again for at least an hour. Finally it seemed like the patch was holding … and we parted ways.

I rode one kilometer and sensed I was flat again. However, I noticed a few huts … and thought I would try to ride to one … perhaps get lucky and find some water and food.  (I always like to eat when stressed!)

I found a North Facing shop with food and water! I bought some buscuits and water … and just sat with this old lady and a bunch of kids for about 15 minutes. (It felt like these boys were on lunch break from school. They all had little satchels.)

After about 15 minutes of calming myself … I began the process of patching, mounting, pumping … and leaky tires again. I was exhausted.  With each time I changed a wheel … my plan of finishing this epic three day ride from Luang Prabang, Laos to Chiang Khong, Thailand was diminishing.

Here's a video I made of the day/experience - Flatting in Northern Laos

Finally, I was done.
When tubes don't hold ... you can always stick out your thumb! :-)
Shorlty after 2 pm I seen a truck approaching. I ran onto the road with bike in one hand and wheel in the other. The truck stopped quickly, and offered a ride!

Wow – What an incredible spectacular ride! The downhills were amazing … and there were still two quite significant uphills (of approx. 800m in total). There were FEW places to get food or water in this section. (It would have been epic to have finished – which … I think I could have without the long talk with Hero – and without the flats. But I would not have completed based on leaving that hill top at 2pm.)

Next time: On day 2 of this 3 day pursuit, ride from Oudonxai to Phong Viang. That way there will only be 125 km on day 3 of Great hills.

We arrived at the Thai border … and the authorities would not allow me to pass further with this trucker and his pregnant daughter. (Not much help to the tourism industry – this trucker transporting me.)

I provided them much of my remaining Kip … which they tried to refuse.

I then loaded my bike into a taxi … and asked to go downtown. He dropped me in front of the ChiangKhong Green Inn, which had Wi-fi.   There was 24 hour conceige service so I left my bike on ground level. I climbed the 5 flights of stairs to the “4th floor” and found my tiny room with no windows. 200 Baht.  $7.14 Cdn.    (This was the first place I stayed with no towel - or ensuite bath. I used my T-shirt.)
It was a charming place with gorgeous view off the Mekong this morning. They also had 500 Baht rooms with AC … perhaps even a bathroom.

Note to future riders. Grasshoppers Cycling Tours offer an cycling itinerary from Chaing Mai or Chaing Rai throught this route to Prabang Luang and then onto Vientienn. It’s a 14 day itinerary. I’d like to do that ride someday … but perhaps in 6-8 days. I understand the ride between Luang Prabang and Vientienne is pretty sweet.

Laos = Awesome Cycling

Hero told me about some great maps of Northern Thailand and Laos from  These would be great to have ... if ever you plan on cycling here.

I passed on this yummy looking Breakfast.

Found some incredients 50km into my ride &
Asked the lady to mix 'em together in her wok.

Trying to patch tubes -
1st go around with Hero from Japan.

Hill top Village - fixing tubes.

The road/scenery was astounding in Northern Laos - 80 km East of Hou Xai.

Friendship Bridge - the Laos / Thai border

1 comment:

  1. Love the real estate shot! Should be on "house hunters international"!!