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  • 04/09/2024 4:07 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Biggest turnout to date and great weather to boot! Thank you to all who partipated! 

    Regards,
    Mike Savage


  • 04/06/2024 3:18 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Posted yesterday on Facebook by Barry McMahon... 

    Neither earthquake nor a spontaneous WRDE interview would stop our own Bill Froh from completing his Crooked Hammock ride. He started with group one and finished with group two after the mid-ride interview. He made the editor's cut and was on the 6 o'clock broadcast. Well played, Bill.

  • 04/05/2024 5:00 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Below is an email sent today from Bill Weller, Sussex Cyclists Advocacy Director:

    Hi friends,

    Just a quick email to share with you the plans of the Sussex County Land Trust for trails and trailheads in Sussex County as reported by the Cape Gazette earlier this week. Some quick highlights:

    • Development of the Hopkins Preserve, 52 acres on Sweetbriar Rd near US-9 that includes a multi-use trail along Sweetbriar Rd, interior trails around a pond, and access from the Georgetown-to-Lewes Trail;
    • Hudson Park, 30 acres at Cool Spring Road and US-9 where last year they opened a trailhead and parking lot with access to the Georgetown-to-Lewes Trail with more development planned;
    • Forest of Broadkill Preserve, 300 acres along Shingle Point Road and Gravel Hill Road, that will include a mountain bike trail among other trails;
    • Gills Neck Road Trail, that connects to the Junction & Breakwater Trail; and
    • Description of several other large properties being either developed or in the process of being purchased.

    A link to the full article is below.

    Happy & Safe Riding!

    Bill

    Advocacy Director

    https://www.capegazette.com/article/sussex-land-trust-more-access-countywide-preservation/272788?amgee-source=dh

  • 04/02/2024 2:40 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Copied from WBOC's website:

    Temporary Closure of the Lewes to Georgetown Trail

    SUSSEX COUNTY, DE - DELDOT says the closure will for routine trail maintenance.

    DELDOT says the trail will be closed from Log Cabin Hill Road to Minos Conaway Road. All access through the work zone will be strictly under flagger control.

    Officials say the required maintenance will include the removal of any hazardous tree adjacent to the trail and any deadwood located directly above the trail.

    Times and Dates of Closure:

    • Monday, April 15 - Friday April 19 - between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (weather permitting).
    • Rain date (if required): Monday, April 22 - between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.


  • 04/02/2024 2:15 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Every year, Sussex Cyclists collaborates with DelDOT and the State Police to organize bicycle safety checkpoints across our area. These checkpoints offer bicycle safety information, trail maps, general bicycle repairs, lights, and helmets to passers-by.

    As the dates for these events approach, we'll keep you updated through our Calendar and send out emails seeking volunteers. For more details, feel free to reach out to Denny Shook at bigd721@yahoo.com. 

    2024 Resort Bicycle Safety Checkpoint Schedule

    1. Thursday, May 30th SR1 - Nike Outlet & Royal Farms 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    2. Monday June 3rd G-L Trail @ Lewes Library 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    3. Thursday, June 6th SR1 - Nike Outlet & Royal Farms 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    4. Wednesday, June 12th Church Street & Canal Crossing Rd. 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    5. Monday, June 17th G-L Trail @ Lewes Library 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    6. Thursday, June 20th Lutheran Church 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    7. Wednesday, June 26th Church Street & Canal Crossing Rd. 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    8. Wednesday, July 10th Church Street & Canal Crossing Rd. 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    9. Monday, July 15th G-L Trail @ Lewes Library 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    10. Thursday, July 18th SR1 – Nike Outlet & Royal Farms 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    11. Monday, July 22nd G-L Trail @ Lewes Library 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    12. Thursday, August 1st SR1 - Nike Outlet & Royal Farms 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    13. Monday, August 5th G-L Trail @ Lewes Library 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    14. Wednesday, August 14th Church Street & Canal Crossing Rd. 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • 04/01/2024 3:00 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Follow Mike on his 2024 journey cycling through Thailand on his self-made bamboo bicycle. Check back often for updates!

    April 1, 2024 - Thai training wrap up

    I may join a few low impact rides this week before my Thursday evening take-off from Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Mainly, I want to recover and tie up loose ends here. Today is Monday, a rest day, and this will be the last message from Thailand .

    Averaging about 300 km a week, a rough guess, for 90 days or 12 weeks, the total distance is 3600 km or 2236 miles. Average speeds increased from about 23 km/hr to 27 km/hr. This on some truly awful roads, hills everywhere and dangers common to this area: stray dogs, wild monkeys, cars and motorbikes driving on the wrong side of the road, killer storm grates, ad infinitum. If anything, I've certainly improved my danger averting reflexes here.

    As for speeds on the flats (typical of Sussex county), I can probably maintain 34-38 km/hr quite comfortably, 40+ km/hr when I need to. This may or may not be good enough for the Lewes group or the Ocean Velo club but the gap is closing. I promise to behave myself on all Sussex Cycling club rides. For me, it's always been about camaraderie and having a beer with friends. Thanks to the wonderful friendships and mentorships with SCC, I've been able to make this journey happen. From a non-cyclist getting dropped on the Beer trail to a cyclist able to stick with some of the best cyclists in the world. My transformation took a mere 20 months. My biggest thanks go to Mark Snader, Bill Gorodetzer, Steve Smith and John Martinez. You may not know exactly how you influenced me but I learned much from all of you.

    For the near future, I'm looking forward to riding again with the best club in the world, building my new road bike, designing the 2024 frames, and breaking more and more barriers. The best is yet to come.

    Here in Thailand, I'll be saying "So long, until next time". I've made dozens of new friends from over a dozen countries. There is nothing like travel and living in strange places to widen one's experience and perspective. If you have the time and wherewithal, break out of your comfort zone and try something completely new and foreign. You may not like everything but you will learn important lessons in humility, tolerance and civility. Most importantly, you will learn to adapt and go with the flow. From my current viewpoint, 12,000 miles away from home, I see these qualities to be sorely lacking in my place of birth, at this time, in that charged and polarized atmosphere. Above all else, be civil.

    Signing off from Thailand, the Land of Smiles,

    Mike Schultz

    March 31, 2024 - Last full week

    This will be my last full week in SE Asia. I should have a chance to join a few rides next week but Thursday April 4 will be take-off time. Preparations have already been made. The car rental from Dulles to Lewes has been reserved for April 5 at 6pm. It's a long flight with stops in Seoul and Atlanta. One concern has been eliminated. The bicycle will stay in Thailand with one of my riding buddies. This means I'll be traveling light on the way home, no better way than to have only a carry on bag. It also means that initially I won't have a road bike when I return. I'll be using the mahogany gravel bike on my first few Sussex Cycling club rides. Once I recover from jetlag, the new road bike will be built. I'm hoping to put together a Campagnolo groupset on one of my road frames, specifically an Ekar 1 x 13. That should be interesting. 

    Monday Punthai group ride-
    Ride cancelled. Apparently, the core of this group took a bike packing trip to Saraburi and didn't let the rest of us know about it. They will get some major complaints from the few guys who waited at Punthai coffee in vain. I got notice 30 minutes before leaving my condo by sending a text message to the main guy, an American friend. I did my shopping, laundry and house cleaning instead.

    Tuesday-PTT Pattaya group ride
    Small turnout with only me and three others, all younger and faster than me. I don't think they know I've got at least 20 years on them. They certainly showed me no mercy. I stayed right on their wheels for 50 km all the way to Phufa Coffee. The hill climbs to get to this mountain top location took a toll.  Twenty minutes of rehydrating and we're back on the road at a faster pace. The open roads are mostly gently rolling hills in this area. They kept the pace at 38 km/hr and hardly slowed down anywhere except on the steepest hills. We arrived at the next stop in one group but I knew I was reaching my limit. At kilometer 78 and the Bamboo bar we got more drinks. On leaving, I nearly forgot to pay and had to stop to rummage in my rear pocket for 50 baht. They shot off leaving me 200 meters behind. To catch up I dug deep and caught them by holding my speed at 38 km/hr, on the drops and in the tightest aero position possible. Once we reached a road from where I could find my way home unaided, I dropped. This was at kilometer 90. The last 10 kilometers are mine and sometimes it's nice to have the road to yourself. They soon disappeared out of sight. Thank heavens! 

    Total distance 100 kilometers at 27 km/hr average. My best average yet in these parts.

    Wednesday-Jomtien Cycling club group ride to Saint Andrews in Ban Chang
    This ride was set to be a recovery ride. Only two other people showed up, my British friend who will store my bike and the Thai Queen of Cycling. I refrain from naming anyone but she is the heart and soul of Jomtien Cycling club and a great guide to have along. She's quite strong but struggles on the hills. Who doesn't! A slow paced ride was mainly planned for my benefit. I was still stiff from riding with the speed fanatics on the previous day. All went well on this beautiful, cloudy day and we got some great photos of the scenery near St. Andrews school. Yes, all went well until the rain caught us. We ducked under an awning at a second hand clothing store and watched as the streets flooded. The rain came down so hard that conversation was impossible. For thirty minutes we waited for it to slacken but these tropical rains come in waves. There was a brief slackening and being impatient we left our shelter. Then the next wave came and there was no where to hide. Once you're totally wet, there's no sense of avoiding the rain. We continued on. Many of the streets were dangerously flooded and we had to alter our course. On some occasions the water was six inches deep and still we plowed on slow and steady. The streets were rivers now and I could feel the water holding me back as it came rushing down the slopes. We split up as we neared town and all made it back home safely. I was wet but exhilarated, a bit cold but relieved of the usual heat. The rain continued all morning until noon and then the sun broke out. My bike and kit were dry by evening.
    Distance-76 kilometers 20 km/hr average and a max speed of 68 or 42 mph.

    Thursday-Punthai group to PCC Coffee Garden
    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/45983443

    The usual group of Norwegians, Austrians, two Americans and one Singaporean left Punthai Coffee house promptly at 7:30. We were 8 cyclists, tired at the end of a week of heavy cycling. I anticipated a rational ride with no speed freaks in the group. As my departure date approaches, I'm getting increasingly cautious. Our Norwegian group leader steered us on a labyrinthine course through the back streets of Chonburi province. I have no idea how he finds his way. It must be that curious sound I constantly hear from his Garmin that guides him. 
    One stop at kilometer 53, a coffee house and boutique resort called "For You and For Rest". To get to it, they climbed the steepest grade I've seen here. I walked to the top quite wisely. This place seemed to be set up for Thai newlyweds, small cozy bungalows each with a tub overlooking the valleys below. 

    As usual, the pace picked up on the way back, 32km/hr mostly with stretches of 40 km/hr where safe. Cyclists peeled off one by one as we approached home base. Perfect day for riding but the heat can be withering especially when waiting for a light to change. 
    Distance 79 kilometers at 25 km/hr. Rational!

    Friday-Jomtien Cycling Club to Lake Mabprachan.
    This is my last chance to reach my goals for this trip. Can I crest the big hill at 30 km/hr? Can I maintain 40 km/hr for 5 km on the home stretch? Other goals have already been reached. I've cycled with some of the fastest cyclists in the area, joining two new clubs. No, I'm not ready for the International group composed of old (35-45) retired European pros. That's for next year. 

    Friday, I joined the usual group, the core cyclists of Jomtien Cycling Club. I had second thoughts about attaining my cycling track goals. The night before, I took an old friend on a tour of my favorite bars on soi Buakhao and as a result I only had four hours of sleep. San Miguel lite saved me from any hangover. Nevertheless, I scored one out of two. The big hill didn't look so big. We accelerated up the hill twice. The first time cresting at 28.5 km/hr, the second time cresting at 30. At last, the hill training has paid off. The second goal remained elusive. I pulled ahead of the group but couldn't stretch the speed above 34 km/hr. Naturally, they stuck on my wheel drafting the whole way and tried to sprint past me on the last hill to the finish. I let them pass on my right, they slacked off, and I passed on their right. Another sneaky European trick I learned here. The 40+ km/hr barrier on the track remains for next year. 
    Distance-60 kilometers 

    Saturday-No rides scheduled.
    I rode to town to shop for some new bar tape and a new rear light. The bar tape was fraying and my original rear light popped off and was lost. Repairs were made in the condo and the bike is looking good as new, ready for the road once more.

    Sunday-Jomtien Cycle club, the last hills.
    I thought I had climbed every hill within an 80 mile radius but to my chagrin then horror two more remained. These hills completely wiped me out. First, I wasn't ready for them. I expected a normal scenic Sunday ride but since this club of sadists knew I was leaving soon, it was secretly decided by them to teach me a lesson in humility. A native flatlander will never become a great climber. The first hill seemed to never end. The grade wasn't especially severe but every time I thought the end was reached another upward segment loomed ahead. After finally cresting this hill, it seemed I would never recover and I never did. The second hill was even steeper and for the first time since riding here, I stopped at the base, took one minute to oxygenate and then began the slow ascent. Fortunately, this group doesn't drop anyone, the stronger climbers waited at the top. Some days, the force is not with you. I'm taking Monday off.
    Distance-73 kilometers at 25+ average

    Week total-402 kilometers

    1) View from St. Andrews in Ban Chang.

    2) The heart and soul of Jomtien Cycling and group photographer.

    3) Cycling with Punthai group.

    4) View from Coffee house and Resort with Punthai friends.


  • 03/29/2024 2:07 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    This article was published in the Cape Gazette, featuring our very own Mike Agnew and the great work he and his volunteers do for our community!

    Cape Code Purple answers call to house homeless

    Men’s and women’s shelters in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach open for 105 nights this past winter

    A roomful of Cape Code Purple volunteers gather at an appreciation breakfast March 16 at Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Rehoboth Beach. Shelters were open for 105 night at the Lutheran Church and St. Jude the Apostle Church in Lewes. RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS

    Ron MacArthur
    March 29, 2024

    Cape Code Purple honored its volunteers with an appreciation breakfast March 16 at Lutheran Church of Our Savior, one of the nightly shelter sites.

    Between the women’s shelter site at the Lutheran Church in Rehoboth Beach and the men’s site at St. Jude the Apostle Church in Lewes, 130 volunteers filled 1,000 available positions during the 105 nights the homeless shelters were open. There were 10 volunteers each night, which included four people staying overnight, four intake workers and two bus drivers.

    Mike Agnew, coordinator of the program, said that’s a 50% increase in the number of volunteers over last year.

    Throughout the 105 nights the shelters were open, there were 90 guests overall with an average of 21 per night across both shelters. The shelters are open seven days a week.

    By fire marshal regulations, each shelter is limited to 14 people per night. “The last three weeks, the men’s shelter reached capacity,” Agnew said.

    Once the shelters closed March 16, volunteers still helped guests by giving every one a six-person tent, sleeping bag and portable propane heater.

    A new women’s shelter

    It was the first winter for the women’s shelter, which opened Dec. 8. The Lewes Senior Center provided a shelter for the first week of Code Purple, giving organizers more time to get the women’s shelter up and running. The St. Jude’s shelter opened last winter.

    Code Purple in Sussex County is administered by LOVE Inc., based in Seaford, with shelters in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, two in Milford, and one each in Seaford and Georgetown. The shelters are open Dec. 1 to March 16.

    LOVE Inc. staff compile nightly intake information, handle reservations and provide a homeless hotline.

    “This is also a celebration of what they do for us,” Agnew said of the March 16 appreciation breakfast.

    During the event, Agnew thanked a lot of people involved with the shelter, including Kathy Connell, who coordinated the women’s shelter. He also honored Tom Tulley, who drove the bus 72 days.

    Meals program new this year

    Agnew and his volunteers have worked to make their shelters more accessible and more welcoming.

    This year, a meals ministry started with hot meals provided three days a week. Agnew said 960 meals were served this past winter with a host of volunteers from St. Jude and the Lutheran Church, Bethel United Methodist Church, Village Improvement Association, Epworth UM Church and the Teach a Person to Fish program.

    Agnew said one of the goals for next season is to expand the meals program to more nights.

    To make access to the shelters easier, organizers secured the donation of a small DART bus last year. Drivers were able to pick up guests at night and then take them to the Community Resource Center in Rehoboth in the morning for the day. Agnew said the bus had 195,000 miles and was in bad shape. Next year, they will get a newer bus, one that was used for the now-defunct Lewes Line. Drivers logged more than 2,800 miles.

    The program also has a laundry ministry with a team who washed, sanitized and folded more than 1,250 pounds of laundry. Ocean Suds Laundromat donates the use of its machines.

    The program offers bikes to its guests thanks to donated repair work by Lewes Cycle Sports and Sussex Cyclists, which covered the costs of parts.

    Volunteers also collected clothing for distribution at the women’s shelter.

    Plans for next year

    Agnew said plans are already being made for the next winter season. He said they are working to develop a storage locker program using 30 donated bins by Casella Waste Management.

    “We are looking for a place along Route 1 to store them,” he said. “They will be locked and monitored, and fixed so they can be moved. We want our guests to be like everyone else and not walking around with suitcases, bags and shopping carts. They carry everything they own with them.”

    Volunteers said one person at the women’s shelter carries around as many as 17 bags.

    In addition, they are seeking ideas for wrapping their bus in artwork to provide better awareness of the Code Purple program. Agnew said that the Village Improvement Association is providing funds for both projects.

     

    Cape Code Purple coordinator Mike Agnew honors Kathy Connell for her efforts to run the new women’s shelter.

    Pastor Donald Schaefer of Lutheran Church of Our Savior offers the blessing as the event gets underway.

    Mike Agnew has led efforts to open Code Purple shelters in Lewes for men and Rehoboth Beach for women. The St. Jude location opened last winter.

  • 03/28/2024 4:00 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Legislative Bike to Dover

    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Registration is open for the Legislative Bike to Dover.

    Three routes available. Fun for all and a free tee-shirt! It's a Club favorite.

    Check it out!

    Info & Registration

  • 03/25/2024 11:30 AM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    WOW! What a great day. The Eric Lowe Memorial Ride was a huge success. Over 120 riders braved the cold temperatures and strong winds to ride and pay tribute to Eric. Thank you to the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park for partnering with our organization to make this ride happen. Thank you to all our members who assisted and help make this a huge success. Thank you to Seagreen Bicycle Lewes and Lewes Cycle Sports for their support.

  • 03/09/2024 9:00 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Follow Mike on his 2024 journey cycling through Thailand on his self-made bamboo bicycle. Check back often for updates!

    March 25, 2024 - Picking up the pace

    The cycling addiction is firmly set and I can't seem to slow down. I rode 6 out of 7 days last week and this week is on course to do the same. I will attempt to chronicle each day going forward, so no more skipping the boring rides. Somehow, I'll try to make all of them interesting. Indeed, every one is a rush filled with the unexpected.

    Monday-Punthai group ride to the Thai navy base.

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/45872746?privacy_code=r2L8yXn5J5Oz2gZfcbh7w8BkzDqF2NmA

    We started at 7:30 with 9 cyclists. Most I knew from past rides but we had one new American from Baltimore, my home town. Fancy that! I knew I was pushing it from the start, all these consecutive days of cycling, gym work, barhopping at night. I feared a good bonking was waiting to happen. Spoiler alert, it didn't happen. This group hates hills and loves speed and so the route was carefully planned for the flattest terrain possible without being boring. The Norwegian who planned this route did an excellent job. For the most part, I had no idea where he was taking us except that eventually we'd stop at km 43 Mahan coffee on the Thai naval base near Ban Saray. The roads are impossible to remember unless you live here and travel them every day. One incident occurred when we attempted to travel against traffic on a highway. This is common here but you had better be careful and know what you're doing. The new American guy freaked out and lost his temper with a driver of a car who nearly hit him. I think the driver was just trying to teach him a lesson but the American didn't see it that way. He broke the cardinal rule in Thailand, "Never lose your cool". There is much the foreigner needs to learn here. This place is the opposite of New Jersey. Always "Jai Yen" which means chill out. Stay cool and nothing will happen to you. Lose your cool and a glass bottle will be broken over your skull. Simple but effective in maintaining peace and tranquility, the way of Buddha.

    Mahan coffee was an ideal place to chill out. The new American was laughing again with no damage to his skull. We had our coffee and high calorie treats and sprinted out of there along a beach road lined with palm trees. Then up a hill to the famous Sukhumvit road, the road cyclists love to hate. Immediately, the pace picked up to 40km/hr or 25 mph. There is no need to stop for 10 miles and it's full gas from here on out. One group of 5 split off to gain extra kilometers. One group barreled ahead thinking to avoid the increasing heat. I stuck with this group of the fastest riders. The Dutchman leading the group dropped me last Thursday. This time I stayed on his wheel. This is getting too easy. Is it me or the bamboo? The mystery continues.

    We finished at 11 o'clock with a distance of 68 kilometers. The new American and I stuck together all the way and bumped fists at the final point. I'll see him again Thursday.

    Tuesday-Jomtien Cycle club to Pratamnak hill

    Once again only one cyclist showed up, the Dutch king of the hill. This is the guy who plans rides with the steepest and longest hill climbs. The Dutch are always extreme cyclists, this guy is a climbing beast. We met at 6 am in the street and all is calm at this hour. No time for pleasantries, he immediately shot off toward Pratamnak. There are speed bumps all over these roads, a lame attempt to control speed. Over the course of these 3 months, I've learned to disregard them. A well timed bunny hop and I barely graze the top with no need to slow down. From Beach road at sea level we make a sharp right at the end of the road and the climb begins from 0 to over 200 meters in less than a mile. There is only one very short flat stretch halfway up, catch your breath if you can and then the steep part begins which takes you to the viewpoint. I've never seen another cyclist up here. Tourists visit by motorbike or a few may walk up for exercise. We hit the viewpoint at full gas and for the first time I see the Dutchman struggling BEHIND me. I give him a minute to catch up and we fly back down the hill. I'll keep him in oxygen debt for rest of the ride. We have four more massive hill climbs to go and I know I've got him in the bag at this point. I drop him on the next four climbs and let him catch up on the descent. Now he wants one of my bikes, a bamboo convert. Is that all I have to do to convince people that mass produced bikes are no match for a handmade bike. One guy just spent 5000 dollars for a set of wheels! The bearings burnt out after a few rides. I'd gladly have built him a complete bike for that amount! Well, no matter what I do, I'm no match for commercial hype. In fact, I'm no longer interested in marketing to cyclists. The art market is my focus.

    Wednesday

    I could find no one to ride with this day. Perhaps because a tropical storm was heading this way. Early morning, all was calm until 8 am. Then the clouds burst and rain came down in buckets. This is the first time I did not ride here due to rain. More than two months of continual sunshine.

    Thursday-Punthai group to Koon Coffee house

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/45912145

    From coffee house to coffee house we ride like the wind. We had a large group of eleven. This group is still growing. We're getting cyclists from the International group who are tired of the fast boring rides. They complain that after a ride with this hardcore contingent, they feel completely wiped out for the rest of the day. It is that insane! The effect of this conversion is that the Punthai group is getting faster with each new member. The average speeds have increased one kilometer an hour with each ride. We did 72 kilometers today at an average speed of 26 km/hr on some of the worst roads I've encountered here. No one warns of a hole because holes are everywhere. When the road does open up, we're hitting 34-38 km/hr. No need to convert to American standard, it's faster than any SCC ride I've ever been on.

    We took our break at Koon Coffee house which had an amazing jungle environment. The jungle was so dense that we drank inside due to fear of malaria or dengue fever. Live in SE Asia long enough and you might have this experience. I had dengue once. They call it Break Bone Fever for good reason.

    The highlight was entering the cycle track on Mabprachan lake where the pace went full gas. I got boxed in as the group pick up speed to over 25 mph. There are no obstacles here except slower riders.

    Some cyclists dropped off on the way back but the core held together where we had a late breakfast at a Thai hole in the wall restaurant. I talked with M, a Singaporean living in Thailand, who is studying to enter a Buddhist monastery.

    I asked him if cycling is any help in this endeavor. Most assuredly Yes. Cycling relieves his stress and he can meditate with a much calmer mind. I concur with this appraisal as I feel much the same way.

    We have a filling Thai breakfast of stir fried rice with vegetables and chicken, clear soup and water for 80 baht or about $2.25.

    Friday-Ride to Mabprachan lake and 3 laps on the cycling track.

    With plans of an overnight trip to the island of Koh Lan this morning, I wanted to get this ride done as soon as possible. To miss the ferry at 11 would mean a long wait for the next boat. We struck out at 6am arriving at the lake in 45 minutes. We did our usual three laps of the 10 km circuit and got back to base at 8:45. Excellent time! I was ready for the trip by 9:30. I hired a Bolt taxi, picked up some friends and got to the pier with time to spare. Beautiful, sunny day, calm sea. Walked off the boat, had lunch, found rooms and enjoyed a relaxing time at the tropical paradise of Koh Lan.

    Saturday-No ride, still on the island until mid afternoon.

    Sunday-Jomtien Cycle club ride to Radar hill and Ban Saray beach.

    With this hill climbing club there is no avoiding a major hill challenge. Fortunately we took the easier way up this monster which has a more gradual ascent and intermittent stretches where the cyclist can catch a breather. I am actually growing fond of these hills. It's always more pleasant when you're the dropper and not the droppee. It's amazing that I haven't killed myself yet.

    After we polished off the hill, we sped off down the highway. As an experiment, I decided to increase the speed to 50 km/hr until we reached the Ban Saray turn off. It was a question of how long I could hold it and whether I could drop these guys. They've been egging me on for weeks now, trying to get me to take the bait with no results. As soon as we circled off of highway 332 onto Sukhumvit highway, I shifted to the highest gear, stomped on the pedals and dropped them before they knew what happened. The element of surprise was key. They had never seen me pop like that before. For the next 5 kilometers, my speed stayed at 48-50 km/hr. They disappeared behind me until we regrouped at the entrance gate of the naval base. I later learned that they tried to catch my draft but the speed shift was too sudden and I never slacked off. A definitive drop must dishearten your competitors. I will henceforth behave myself unless they piss me off again.

    Breakfast at the beach was a English breakfast all around with coffee. 140 baht. As we left the beach side restaurant we noticed a solo cyclist in front of us. Normally, they are slow and we quickly pass them but this guy was strong. He stayed in front all the way up the hill to Sukhumvit road and upon reaching the main road, he picked up the speed to 40 km/hr. We formed a single pace line behind him and stayed on his wheel all the way to Jomtien beach. I was tempted to pop in front again but I had no idea who this guy was, maybe one of the pros training here. Finally at the only light before Jomtien, we found out he was a French cyclist who rode with the International group. 25 mph on a flat road like Sukhumvit was no problem for him and he didn't mind doing all the pulling. We loved it! This guy was big, about 6'4". Perfect!

    Distance was 70 km at 25 average. The last 10 kilometers was 40 average. Top speed on the flat was 52 or 32 mph.

    The week's total was 357 km on 5 group rides.

    For images of Koh Lan (Koh Larn) island

    https://www.thailandmagazine.com/koh-larn/?lang=en


    March 17, 2024 - Back in the Brooks saddle

    The four days of rest and relaxation in Phnom Penh was just what this tired cyclist needed. Even though my muscles are sore and stiff after three consecutive days of cycling, there seems to be a lot more gas in tank. I'm finding the hills I struggled with before to be not so intimidating. I'm finding it difficult to stay back in the group and not pull away. I'm feeling way too good. There's no law prohibiting that in Thailand but it may be cause for arrest in the States.

    I'm taking no days off this week. The Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rides were a piece of cake. Thursday I'll join the faster Punthai group on a longer ride. Let's keep the momentum going.

    The Punthai group assembles later than most groups. We got started at 7:30 with a group of ten, mostly Norwegian and Austrian but two Americans, one Singaporean and one Hollander. The route took us through the Chinese market with its narrow passageways, alleys and crowded streets. The pace was faster than last week and some riders struggled to keep up. Starting this late, it was already far too hot for comfort. Some cloud cover provided temporary relief. First stop was Amazon coffee in Ban Chang. These guys take long breaks. I think they like talking more than cycling. As usual, the one Dutchman pushed the group to pick up the speed. We sped out of Ban Chang to our next stop at the Bamboo bar. By the time we got there my water bottles were empty and I ordered a watermelon ice drink and one Sponsor, an electrolyte drink popular here. We had another long break and I was getting impatient to finish this ride and get out of the heat especially since I had a friend waiting for me in town. Saddling up after nearly an hour, we starting stringing out. The Dutchman set the pace way too fast and half the group dropped. I stayed with him until it got ridiculously too fast as the roads got busier approaching town. There have been far too many cycling casualties in this area, even some deaths lately, some of them due to reckless cyclists. Even when the cyclist is practicing utmost caution, the drunk or the cell phone zombie can end your days in the saddle. There are plenty of both types here.

    The Friday ride to Lake Mabprachan started with a flat tire, my first one on this trip. I fixed it back in the room and we set off 15 minutes later just as first light appeared. I haven't forgotten my goals for this trip on the cycling track.

    Goal one: Crest the big hill at the lakeside cycling track at 30km/hr. Attained 28 km/hr.

    Goal two: Maintain 40km/hr on the flat. Attained 34 with some 42 km/hr intervals.

    Close but no cigar on both scores. However, this is far better than last year's benchmarks. The old dog is learning new tricks.

    Saturday we rest. Big music festival in town and lots to do aside from cycling.

    The Sunday ride was the biggest hill climb test so far. The back side of Radar hill is usually avoided by cyclists but the gauntlet was thrown down. If anyone of my readers decides to cycle here, be sure to have a double chainring or at least 32 teeth on the biggest gear of the cluster. I'm riding a 1 x 11 with a span of 11-28 on the cluster. I'm sure 32 would have gotten me to the summit but alas, I stumbled 20 meters short. I didn't expect anything so steep. Next year, I will know better.

    We finished off the route with a long, fast return on Sukhumvit road. This is where the high averages are reached. The last 15 km was between 34-42 km/hr with no wind.

    Distance for this ride was 82 km with the week's total of 403 km, the longest so far.

    Next week starts with a bang. The Punthai group is growing quickly with famously fast riders joining every week.

    Hang in there. Only two more grueling weeks to go with the heat rising each day.

    Punthai Thursday ride to Ban Chang

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/45838025

    1) Wednesday ride over hill and dale

    2) The perfect road with Canadian friend

    3) The Punthai group at Amazon coffee

    4) Punthai group at Bamboo bar

    March 9, 2024 - Phnom Penh, the visa run

    The temperature is approaching 100 Fahrenheit every day and for the first time, I'm using the room air conditioner.

    Phnom Penh is actually south of Bangkok and due to its inland location it is hotter and more humid.

    My normal routine is to get out for a brisk walk in the morning and find an outdoor restaurant with a western menu and fresh coffee. I visited a Khmer (Cambodian) restaurant the first night here and ordered beef breast with tamarind sauce, very tough to chew and an udder disaster. I'm no Anthony Bourdain.

    The river road along the Mekong is very French colonial. One can sit at an outdoor cafe, sip your drink, enjoy good food and watch the activity on the river walk. The Mekong is one of the most important and fascinating rivers in SE Asia. There are river boats with restaurants and live music docked along the river walk.

    For a more Asiatic experience, a short walk away from the river on any of the old streets will take the traveler back in time into another world of rickshaws, bicycle vendors and three wheeled tuktuks. Here French colonial and Khmer architecture mix together seamlessly and life on the streets rolls by lanquidly. This place is slow. I sometimes walk right in the middle of traffic. It's the only way to cross some of the busier streets. This is a trick that's difficult to learn if you're new here. It's easy to spot the inexperienced traveler standing at the corner for fifteen minutes afraid to step out into the steady flow of traffic.

    J'aime Phnom Penh. Where else can I feel like a character in a Graham Greene novel. Ahh, Vietnam next time.

    In the afternoon, it's best to hire a tuktuk to show you the sites. These guys are on every corner looking for fares. One can be hired all day for ten to twenty dollars.

    After five, the sun is low enough to venture out for another exploration by foot. The best food is along the river, French, Thai, Indonesian and Indian are my favorites here. You'll pay a little extra for the view and the fresh breeze off the river but for less than ten dollars you can eat in style, order beer or wine and relax for hours if you like. This is a city where the traveler never needs to rush. Take it slow and become the quiet American.

    Four days went by quickly. I visited all my old haunts and was disappointed that my favorite hotels, restaurants and bars had closed and gone out of business during Covid. But new ones have spring up in their place. Phnom Penh is slowly recovering once again. The resilience of these people always amazes me. New buildings are going up everywhere and everyone is busy.

    It's time to check out and I'm sad to leave this exciting place. I made friends here that I'll never forgot. The only consolation is that I'm going back to Thailand, to cycling and the final stretch of my 3 months journey. New adventures await. I'm prepared to hit the ground running.

    1) Busy corner near hotel and tuktuk

    2) Lady selling limes from her bicycle

    3) Bicycle rickshaw

    4) Khmer architecture at a temple

    5) The Mekong at night and party river boat

    6) Eating out Cambodian style


    Why Thailand?

    Mike Savage asked me this question before the DFH Wednesday ride. My response was "Why not?". I didn't have time to give a complete answer. So, I'll drop you a short but more complete response and perhaps you can pass it on.

    Perfect weather. January to April is the cold season, no rain and "cold" temperatures 85 Fahrenheit.

    Low cost. My apartment near the beach with all amenities is 250 USD month.

    Good food. Mountains of tropical fruit, seafood, Thai food at a low price 3 USD and for a higher price 10 USD, any form of ethnic food, European, Indian, Australian, Malaysian, etc.

    Beer. Chang, Leo, Singha, and imports. 2-3 bucks at a bar.

    Coffee. Grown in the mountains around Chiang Mai.

    Ahh, cycling. Good shops, many clubs of all levels, Thai clubs, mixed Expat clubs, open roads many with dedicated cycling lanes, beautiful scenery. Lakes surrounded by cycling tracks. No fees, just show up and say hi.

    Safe and friendly. The "Land of Smiles" aka LOS. I've been to many places and have had a few experiences but Thailand has always been an easygoing place.

    In a nutshell, I can stay here all winter for the cost of one weekend at a ski resort or a European destination. Beat that Majorca!

    See you guys soon after April 4,

    Mike taking a break from cycling in Phnom Penh

    1-2) Cycling on the left side of the road with cycling lanes. 


    3) Apartment view


    March 6, 2024 - Monday Punthai group ride before Phnom Penh visa run

    My first ride with the Punthai group started at 7:30 am from the Punthai coffee house. We had seven cyclists; 3 Norwegians, 1 Hollander, 1 Austrian, and 2 Americans. The other American was from California and lives permanently in Thailand, another "I swear I'll never go back". There are essentially two types of expats, the wanted and the unwanted. I suspect the Californian was of the unwanted.

    A Norwegian led the group and it was well paced taking a nearly direct route to Punyangyong coffee house in Rayong province. The hardest part was two kilometers of dirt road with a steep ascent, soft sand, wet sand and gullies. The group was surprised that I didn't walk.

    The coffee house was set off the road on a hillside surrounded with tropical gardens. I had been here once before and it's quite popular with the area cyclists. I have yet to have a beer with any cyclist, it's always a coffee in some sort of jungle coffee bar. The microbrewery trend is unknown here but coffee bars are taking off like a rocket.

    No time was wasted going back to town. This very experienced group, some life long cyclists, sped up to over 30 km/hr for most of the return stretch. The total distance was 75 kilometers, 25 km/hr average and 50 km/hr maximum. No one was dropped.

    I usually don't mention the average speed on these rides because with the groups I have been riding, the averages are quite unimpressive, 15-16 mph. This is a good thing because the road conditions here are nothing like those of Sussex county. There are faster groups with averages over 20 mph but they stay on the highways with wide shoulders and gradual inclines but mainly flat. They are also boring and tedious, no jungle bird calls, no lakes, no mountains, no temples, just watch the wheel in front of you and pedal your ass off. Ahh, you know the type! So with these slower rides, I get a wider range of experience and it's experience that I'm here for. I'm getting distance, long climbs, steep climbs, bike handling expertise and when the road does flatten out, we may be pumping along at 20-25 mph for 10 kilometers or more. For someone like me who is still a novice at this sport, this is total immersion.

    Here is what I can do when I return from Cambodia: ride with the pros a few times, the hairy scary carbon fiber fanatics. I know the main roads well enough and when I'm inevitably dropped, it's a simple thing to find my way back to base. All I have to do is hang on to Eddie Merkx's wheel as long as possible. I have no shame, no ego to massage. I've reached a level of Zen-like composure on my Brooks saddle that cannot be perturbed. Where else but Thailand! Hey, got to keep it interesting!

    The Monday ride with Punthai group

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/45747327

    1) Dirt road with long hill climb, the average killer

    2) The Punthai group of expats at Punyangyong, California expat in foreground

    3) Hark! We have a video clip 1709548633847.mp4

    March 3, 2024 - Phy sical break down

    I am not a kinesiologist but I know when I'm tired. I've been doing over 300 kilometers each week lately and going to the gym every day. After a near metric century ride of 93 km on Wednesday I decided to take a break. This ride had some of the longest continual inclines that I've encountered here and of course I had to be riding with guys with featherweight bikes who eat hills for breakfast. My bamboo bike is made for the flat terrain of Sussex county, not this roller coaster country. Enough lame excuses, it's just tough going here and if you hate hills, stay home. Unfortunately, I don't have that option. Instead I took 3 days off, no cycling, no gym and I was miserable. Once you develop this sort of physical rhythm and discipline, it's hard to bear the idle time needed for resting.

    By Sunday, I was ready to ride again. It was difficult starting out at 6 am. I had been staying out late into the night and barhopping with friends. There are more bars here than anywhere I've been in the world. There are streets and more streets with nothing but bars and massage parlors. Extreme temperance is required, some travelers have it and some spiral downward into oblivion. That's all I will say here on that subject. Buy me a beer at DFH or Revelation brewery and I'll share the details. I have to get some return on this investment.

    Carousing to 2 am is no way to improve your cycling abilities and I paid the price this day. Fortunately, a hot coffee at Phufa Coffee house and a bag of oatmeal cookies quelled the nausea I felt for the first 40 kilometers. I love this coffee house. I get a chance to meet cyclists from far and wide, old friends and new friends. The coffee is supreme, all from the highlands of Thailand and Laos, freshly roasted and ground, served piping hot and always with that Thai smile and hospitality. There must have been twenty cyclists assembled at this spot while I was there today. What a great international bunch; Nederlands, Austria, Sweden, Canada, England, all joking and sharing stories. This is another great reason to cycle here. It's a global get together, a planet wide bicycle jamboree. Man, the smell of sweat was overpowering!

    At the end of the week, my total distance was way down, only 190 kilometers on three group rides. However, I did learn the importance of rest and explored other activities aside from cycling. Next week I leave for Cambodia and I'm doing it the easiest way possible by flying. This place makes it so easy. I can hop on a songthiaw, aka baht bus, to the bus station. From the bus station, it's a two hour ride to the Suvarnabhumi international airport. After a short flight, I'll be in Phnom Penh, take a taxi to the hotel in the downtown area where I have a reservation at a boutique hotel with four days of Cambodian culture, cuisine and long walks along the Mekong river. I've been to Phnom Penh many times and it's one of my favorite SE Asian cities, chaotic and fascinating. The post for next week will be bookended by cycling related material, I plan to ride with a new group on Monday and ride on Sunday after I get back to Jomtien. But most of the week I'll be in Phnom Penh and it is one crazy place. Stay tuned my cold weather cycling friends, it's going to get hot!

    1) A typical easy ride into the countryside of Chonburi province, Thailand

    February 24, 2024 - New groups and first experience getting dropped in Thailand

    It's a fact that every cyclist lives with, at some point on your upward trajectory you're going to get dropped. The PTT cycling club has some of the best cyclists in this area and I was daring destiny to shoot me down. My first ride with this club last week went very well. I finished closely behind the lead group for the entire 88 kilometers. However, this week had a different dynamic, some younger, top notch cyclists joined the ride and the pace picked up considerably. Once again we headed off down the main highway and turned off into the countryside of Buddhist temples, a wildlife sanctuary and plenty of hills. At 45 km I was still with the lead group as we stopped at the Phufa Coffee house. I thought I had it made until we picked up another cyclist at Phufa who turned out to be the strongest cyclist, the best climber and the best sprinter for the whole group. Right away I started hearing stories about this guy from the other riders. He looked like a human torpedo on the most aero bike I've ever seen. Even his kit was aero, not a wrinkle or fold could be seen. I kept up fairly easily as long as I stayed in the pocket but hubris set in and I decided to take the lead and pull. By the time we reached a minor highway, my legs were spent just as they decided to kick it up a notch. Speeds were inching over 36 km/hr. At km 65, I swallowed my pride and fell back hoping to find my way back to town the shortest way possible. The nice thing about dropping is you now own the ride. I picked my way through temple complexes, around lakes and over monkey trails all the time looking for the tall condominium and hotel buildings that mark the beaches of Jomtien. One half kilometer from the starting point, I passed the whole group as they waited for a red light to change. I passed them at full speed and disappeared into a narrow alleyway that leads to my rented condo. The ride ended at 94 kilometers. Back at my apartment, I drank electrolytes for several hours. This was the closest I've come so far to dehydration. The heat continues to rise and temperatures are expected to exceed 40 Celcius soon. Time to purchase another bottle and more electrolyte powder.

    During the recovery Wednesday ride, I met some members of the Punthai cycling group at the Jungle Coffee bar. I never heard of this group before but they meet at the Punthai coffee house twice a week. This cafe is right outside my condo about 5 minutes walk in distance. I get invited to join lots of groups here. They all want the weird guy on the bamboo bike in their club. I could ride every day of the week but I'd be worn down to a splinter by these people. Four rides a week must be my maximum with 3 days of rest. I'll fit this group in somehow. I hope they're slow.

    After a long (90 km) and arduous Sunday ride over some of the longest hills I've encountered so far, my total for the week is 323 km. There's always the fear that I may be overdoing it. Those cyclists that are more well rested seem to suffer less on the hills. I'm now looking forward to a week off in Cambodia. This will be my first and only visa run on this trip. My Thai visa expires March 6 and my flight to Phnom Penh leaves March 5. Four nights are booked at a boutique hotel in the art and museum center of the capitol city. The round trip Bangkok-Phnom Penh is about 125 USD. The hotel is 25 USD a night, a bit high by my standards but the location is excellent, along the Mekong river. March 9 I will be back into the cycling, refreshed and ready to take on the Dutch torpedo.

    Another glorious week in Thailand has come to a close. Yes, it's darn hot but not one ride has been cancelled thus far. I've experienced only 2 brief periods of rain which comes down hard and heavy. Whenever there is cloud cover we cyclists are thankful. The sun can be merciless. This area is not too bad due to its proximity to the sea but once you get further inland the heat can be incendiary. I've been offered the chance to join some tours but riding in this heat during the afternoon would be life threatening. No thanks! I'll stick with the early morning rides that finish before noon.

    To those who have followed this journal thus far, I thank you for your interest. Sorry, I cannot provide more visual content. My immune system still considers a cellphone to be a foreign object. I sincerely hope that the weather in Sussex county is improving and all the rides are picking up steam. Cycling, there ain't nothing like it!

    Mike in Thailand

    February 20, 2024

    That was a nice break from the ride reporting here in Thailand and I'd like to welcome back Allen and Marilyn from their adventure in Antarctica. Amazing trip no doubt.

    Conditions here in Thailand have changed since early February and unfortunately not for the better. The problem is air pollution at an unhealthy level with some days in the red and orange zone of the AQI. Many cyclists have opted to stay indoors as a result. The cause is mainly due to the burning of sugar cane and rice fields which is traditionally done this time of year. The practice is banned these days but continues unabated. For the cyclists this means irritated lungs, eyes and sinuses. For better or worse, I haven't let it stop me.

    Since I left off the reporting, the weekly average is still between 250-300 kilometers per week with four group rides per week. A few of these rides have reached over a hundred kilometers but most are around eighty. In order to gain more experience, I've replaced the Tuesday hill climbing sessions with Jomtien Cycling club for rides with another group. This group, known as the PTT Chayapreuk group, meets several times a week at a gas station on a main intersection. The start time is 6:30 am and the ride is seldom specified. The destination, route, and speed are always to be determined. All I knew was that Tuesday was typically a long, fast ride to Phufa Coffee house in the neighboring province of Rayong. There is no sign up. You show up and go. It's a bit intimidating especially if you're new to the club. All their rides are drop rides, no mercy is given. In preparation, I downloaded maps on my cellphone, enough information to find my way home if I got dropped.

    Due to the high pollution level only 10 cyclists showed up. We had 3 Austrians, one Brit, 2 Canadians, one Thai, one Norwegian and 2 Americans, me and a fellow from Fort Worth. Some of these cyclists looked particularly fit and had the precious advantage of youth. I usually don't drink water before a ride but I had dry mouth from sheer nervousness. I'd been told for a year now that this group was fast and would drop me at the first hill. Fortunately for me, they weren't feeling spirited this day and kept a steady, reasonable pace. We did drop four cyclists on a long hill climb but all rejoined the group at Phufa Coffee. We were 50 km into the ride at this point with no stops. Somehow, I stayed with the lead group all the way. There was very little drafting for the most part and none of the coordinated pace line formation that SCC uses. Again, a herd of cats on two wheels.

    The ride back to town was more direct. After another stop at the Many Coffee Farm, we cut the ride short by hopping on route 3 known here as Sukhumvit road. Since this road parellels the coastline, it is largely flat and the pace really picks up. Here a paceline usually develops with the strongest rider leading the way. Speeds here usually fall between 36-40 km/hr with this group. If there is any road that compares to Sussex county cycling, it is this road. By the time we near town, cyclists are peeling off to go their own separate way and for the last 5 km I find myself alone and picking my way through the chaotic streets of Jomtien beach. My distance for the day was 88 km. Arrival time was 11 am and the heat was on. The reward for my effort was a cold shower fully dressed in my cycling kit and the satisfaction of keeping up with a group of cycling fanatics. I never pulled once but I rode solo at 36 km/hr for most of that 10 km home stretch on Sukhumvit.

    Next Tuesday, we'll try the same ride again. At least I'll know where I stand now, not the fastest to be sure but a contender. They'll have to pick up the pace a good bit before I drop. Total for the week was 320 kilometers thanks to the extra distance with the PTT group.

    1) Waiting for the start at PTT station


    2) Meeting other groups at Phufa for coffee



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