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  • 02/26/2024 3:21 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Click here to read the article.

  • 02/24/2024 11:00 AM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    On July 21, 2024 I will again be joining over 2500 cyclists to raise money for the Families Behind the Badge Foundation. If you can afford to donate I’m extremely thankful, if not please pray for all to have a safe ride. 

    Click here to donate: Rider/Fundraiser 

    Thank you!

    Denny Shook

  • 02/24/2024 10:30 AM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Here’s a ride I’m doing this June. It’s a bit ambitious but please consider joining me, if you can. It’ll be a life changing experience. 1,200 Miles Total.

    More at www.911trail.org or contact me.

  • 02/03/2024 3:17 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    The article below was written by Joe Ciccanti of The Talk of Delmarva, February 1, 2024 

    The Town of Slaughter Beach and the City of Milford want safer passage between their towns across Route 1 – the main thoroughfare to the beaches running north/south through the state and separating the two communities. The goal is to expand safer passage for pedestrians, cyclists and mobility restricted riders. The town and city are working with the University of Delaware Grant Assistance Program (GAP) team to complete the application process, coordinate the site visit, and manage all the steps required by the grant issuer, the US Department of Transportation. In January, the Town of Slaughter Beach with the City of Milford hosted visitors from Main Street America (MSA) in connection with the goals. Participants in the two-day event included representatives from the Department of Transportation Byways, Sussex Cyclists, and Southern Delaware Tourism.

    Additional Information from the Town of Slaughter Beach:

    Knowing the goal and getting to completion will be a long task but all parties are deeply invested in improving access to the beach with its park facilities, and potential for education and understanding of the environment with the commerce and employment opportunities in the City of Milford. This Milford/Slaughter Beach project would have a big impact in promoting use of Milford as a shopping/eating destination and improving a safer crossing would help Slaughter Beach to remain a quiet beach community working to preserve and protect the natural environment while having more opportunities to educate regional residents about the Marvel Salt Marsh, Delaware Bay, and Primehook National Wildlife Refuge – each offering diverse eco-systems and wildlife sanctuaries.


    Participants in the two-day event included representatives from the Department of Transportation Byways, Rails to Trails, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, DuPont Nature Center, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, the Delaware Sea Grant, Delaware Greenways, University of Delaware Coastal Resilience Design Studio (CRDS), Sussex Cyclists, Southern Delaware Tourism, Dover/Kent Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), and Bike Delaware.


    The Town of Slaughter Beach (https://slaughterbeach.delaware.gov) is a quiet waterfront community along the Delaware Bay coast at the northern tip of Sussex County.  Home to the annual Horseshoe Crab spawning which is closely followed by the endangered Red Knot’s stopping to feed on their annual spring migration, the beach is a draw for birders and sunbathers alike.  Bordered by the beautiful Delaware Bay and backing to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge as well as the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve, residents take great pride in their stewardship of Osprey nests, Diamondback terrapins, and Horseshoe Crab preservation.

  • 01/31/2024 12:00 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

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

    January 31, 2024 - First crash and transitioning to new groups

    This will be the last week of reports until Allen and Marilyn return from Antarctica. They will leave the end of this week, so bon voyage and some words to Allen, "Leave them penguins alone!"

    I'm in my fourth week here and I've been asking around town for info on the many other groups. I see them on the road, meet them in coffee shops and field their many questions about the bamboo bike. It's getting time to link up with them. I'm now in full knowledge of their meeting places and times. As for speeds and styles, I know nothing except they're probably faster and more reckless than what I'm used to here.

    It looks like a slow week. The weather is still excellent but there have been many illnesses and mechanical problems with my usual groups. Our numbers are way down. Only one Dutchman and I went out this morning for the hill assault.

    Here's the danger in Thailand. We're riding in darkness with our lights on climbing a hill on a busy road. A truck is parked blocking the shoulder and part of the road. I pull out to avoid the truck and at that moment a motorbike going the wrong way appears and is heading straight toward me. I stop in time to avoid a head on collision with the motorbike and the Dutchman rear ends me. We're completely entangled but somehow there is no obvious damage. We do what everyone does in Thailand, we pick ourselves up and continue. None of that insurance information exchange protocol. I've seen huge smashups here and if there is anyway for the vehicles to continue moving, they will. Now you know why everything is cheaper here...NO LAWYERS!

    Well, the bamboo bike has some scratches which I can repair easily at home in the shop, a little sanding, a little brushwork and it'll be good as new. If it was carbon fiber...I won't even go there, too easy of a target.

    The hill climbing is getting easier each week. The workouts in the gym, the swimming, the climbing of eight flights of stairs to my room and the 10 km evening walks each day are having a positive effect. It doesn't take long for the Thai transformation to occur. I eat more fruit, more vegetables and more seafood here than in the States. Mostly, I eat in my room but once a day, I eat out and it's always a Thai dish of excellent taste and quality. If for no other reason, come to Thailand for the food. The Thai restaurants in the States cannot compare in freshness and flavor.

    Wednesday was just a scenic ride in the country. 75 kilometers to the beach areas, sea side coffee shops and back to town by 10 am. Many cyclists dismiss the slow, scenic ride but they can have enormous benefits. This is supposed to be fun after all. Apart from that, one can make a good workout at slower speed. Shift to a higher gear than usual and grind, practice standing on the pedals, or work on pulling upward on the pedals. Think of it as a gym session but without the barbells.

    I expect the rest of this week to be a repeat of last week and to keep Marilyn's web site work to a minimum, I will sign off until her return from the southernmost continent. Hopefully by then I will have reports on the international groups, the Thai clubs and maybe even some groups of Thai lady cyclists. At least we can hope.

    Bon voyage mes amis,

    Mike in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

    1) Cappuccino at Bang Sarai beach

    January 28, 2024 - Week 3 wrap up and monthly costs

    For Sunday and the last ride of the week, we had a group of seven. Half of the group split off after 35 km to Phufa Coffee house and my group went a bit farther to Dog Shit hill. Sorry, but that's the word for word translation. So named for its rather flat, sloppy aspect and its lack of vegetation, brown all over. What a roller coaster! I'm getting used to the long, steep climbs here but going downhill is still another matter. We reached 65 kph several times. The Thais descend with complete abandon while I'm covering the brakes praying for deliverance. This is the fastest I've ever cycled in my life. As most of you know, I'm still new at this. My first group ride was May 2022 with Sussex Cycling Club and I got dropped on the Friday Beer trail.

    We stopped at a beautiful restaurant with a garden setting for drinks called PhuYangNong. This was way out of our normal zone and probably the reason we met so many Thai cyclists. Some on Colnago bikes but many more on Cube.

    On the route back to home base, Jittawan, the Thai lady cyclist, and I had brunch at a Thai roadside stand. 70 baht or 2 bucks for stirred fried rice with vegetables and two eggs.

    The day's ride total was 78 km making for a week total of 276 km = 171.5 miles.

    Having paid all bills for January, I can give some figures for the cost of living here.

    Rent for apartment 10,000 baht

    Internet service 350 baht

    Electricity and water 400 baht

    I don't even budget for food and restaurants since it's so cheap.

    Haircut for men 100 baht

    Massage per hour 200 baht

    Beer 60 baht or 80 baht at a bar

    Spectacular sunsets free every evening

    Exchange rate is trending favorably and is up to 35.30 baht per dollar.

    At this rate, I can't afford NOT to be here.

    1) Small lake way out in the Thai boonies with Canada, USA and UK.



    January 25, 2024 - Riding with friends, dental visit, track work

    Enough of the serious stuff, sometimes a ride into the country with good friends makes for a perfect day. This is ad hoc cycling at its finest, no distance, no speed is set. It's like being a kid again and your mom wants you out of the house. As a bonus, you get to play with your favorite toy, the bicycle.

    We meet at the corner of second road and soi Watboonkanchana at exactly 6 am. All arrangements are agreed upon using a messaging app called LINE. All the cyclists use this same app here.

    Jittawan, the only Thai lady in this club, will decide the route. She has GPS and she has experience. The other rider is David Maybe. We have several Davids in this club. This David is so named because Maybe he will show up. He's a fine ole bloke from London who is determined to change his ways and become a role model for his beautiful Thai/English children. Cycling is his road to recovery.

    We go to many of the familiar places using Jittawan's own route. It's long, meandering, scenic and most of the time I feel lost. The road system here is labyrinthine and most roads have no signage, not even in Thai. She's the perfect guide here and soon we are at the Many Coffee farm aka the Jungle bar. I've been here dozens of times, freshly ground Thai coffee, fresh produce from the farm and service with the widest smiles on the planet. We meet some of our friends from other clubs and I get the low down on speeds and styles. These guys like a reasonable speed of 30 kph which I thought was lower than expected. The "International" group likes it around 36 kph. This may be what they call "full gas". It can't be pleasant considering the conditions here. Cycling 23 miles per hour average on these roads... Suicidal! I had to out run a pack of street dogs on this ride. Maybe with their help I could keep up.

    Distance for the ride was 63 km. Average speed was fun.

    I don't do video content, so for an idea of what touring in Thailand is like, Johnny does a fantastic job. This video records his tour of the Mae Hong Son loop.

    Watch "Solo bikepacking the most iconic route in Thailand - Mae Hong Son" on YouTube

    https://youtu.be/TwWR1YYEoXE?si=Nrc3-H1m4xIH0Ba6

    Thursday is an off day, so I made an appointment to get the choppers checked and cleaned one week ago. In and out in 15 minutes, no papers to sign, no insurance forms, just a hello and thank you. 1000 baht and I'm good until next year. As always, the only form of transport is the bike. I wish I could live so simply in the States.

    Friday riding is a bit more serious. It is considered by this group to be speed or interval training. Only the core members participate. It's flat out racing around a track for 30 km with no obstacles and no stops. This is where I can set benchmarks and strive to reach goals in a safe cycling only environment. The goal this season is to top the hills at over 30 kph and maintain 40+ kph on the flats.

    Track cycling day arrives and only one Dutchman shows up. We head out at 6 am on a longer, hillier route to the Mabprachan cycling track. The weather has changed. For the last three days it's been overcast and windy but temperatures are still reaching 90+. This is a better route than the usual one. We pass the Siam Polo Club and I presume this fact accounts for the better road conditions. There are no potholes, uneven storm grates nor packs of homeless animals. One thing I've noticed about the Dutch; they are on average the fastest cyclists. Go anywhere in the Netherlands and you'll be amazed by the number of cyclists. The ones that come here are the most avid, serious cyclists to be found anywhere. I tried to drop my friend several times on the track but to no avail. He was always on my wheel and stayed there to the end. We had a few Thai cyclists join our paceline during the 30 km circuit but all dropped before the hill. The Thais apparently don't like climbing.

    We stopped for a coffee break at the track, talked to an English cyclist who has been living in Southern Spain but now wants to move to Thailand and then headed back to town with one small detour. The Dutchman wanted to do Buddha hill. It seems any hill with a Buddhist temple at the top is called Buddha hill. This one was steep, probably 15 to 20 degrees gradient, a real lung busting grinder. If you're clipped in, you can't stop at any point until it levels off at the top. We get to the top and he immediately turns for the descent. Sorry no photos this time.

    We finish at 9:30 with 72 km for the day.

    Next group ride is Sunday. I have no idea who or where. Every ride is a surprise.

    Please stay tuned and keep up the riding,

    Mike

    1) Our guide to the countryside

    2) At Silver lake with Mr. Maybe

    3) At the dental clinic

    4) The start of the track

    5) Tea and Coffee at the end (YouTube Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwWR1YYEoXE&authuser=0

    See Part 1 for prior entries

  • 01/30/2024 12:00 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Please see 1/30/24 updates below in RED. Thank you!

    As you know, Bill Gorodetzer has been encouraging everyone, especially Ride Leaders, to become familiar with CPR.  After all, you never know when you might need it.

    Below is the information that Bill optained from Corey Kennedy, the Training Center Coordinator at Beebe Healthcare. 

    What: American Heart Association Friends and Family CPR Class

    When: Every 2nd Tuesday of the month from 6-9:00 pm AND every 2nd Saturday from 9 am -12 noon. 

    Where: Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing, 424 Savannah Rd, Lewes (the brick building behind the hospital).

    Cost:  Free

    Details: The class is limited to 20 people.  It course teaches adult hands-only CPR, child CPR, infant CPR, automated external defibrillator (AED) use, and what to do when someone is choking. There is a combination of video lecture and hands-on practice with mannequins – dummies made specifically for medical education.

    Reservation Required.  For more information or to reserve your spot, email Corey Kennedy at Ckennedy@beebehealthcare.org Please include the date you would like to attend, your cell number (to contact you if your session is canceled) and your affiliation with Sussex Cyclists (e.g., member, rides participant, rides Leadership or Ride Leader).

  • 01/23/2024 2:30 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    See Part 2 for subsequent entries

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

    January 22, 2024 - Cycling in Pratamnak park

    I'm taking a day off of the intense cycling and cheating for the ride tomorrow. By cheating I mean studying the terrain before the actual ride. There are always ploys that can be used to one's own advantage especially on rides with steep climbs and sharp turns. This helped me with the SCC drop rides. I did the Texas and the OWB rides solo several times to get the lay of the land.

    The killer ride here is on and around Pratamnak park. After today, I feel that I've got it... upshift here, downshift there, get out of the saddle at this point, relax and breathe deeply now. This process prepares the mind. Tonight I'll prepare the bike by waxing the chain, fine tuning the shifting and pumping up to 100 PSI. This hill is no joke.

    After the drill, I walked around the Park going to places that are missed when racing with a group. It's quite a blissful, quiet and scenic park nestled between Pattaya and Jomtien beaches.

    The Buddhist sanctuary at the crest of Pratamnak hill is a sacred place of devotion. Foreigners and non Buddhists are welcome to enjoy the peace, meditate, participate in the rituals and gain an understanding of Buddhist precepts. This is year 2567 Buddhist era.

    The next day is today, Tuesday. The British climbing fanatic bowed out due to flu symptoms and only one other rider showed up, the Dutchman. This has to be the most unpopular ride in the province. It was once believed that only mountain bikes could reach the top. Now a few road cyclists have proven that supposition to be wrong, a very few. I do believe that one hour on this hill with multiple climbs is better training than many hours and many kilometers on easier routes. In that hour, the cyclists can take the cardio to the max, the resistance to the breaking point and finish in a sweat drenched heap. On this ride, there were no stops. Once the summit is reached it's right back down again. Holding back on the brakes to keep the speed within safe limits on the downhill is almost as tiring. At the base there may be a short respite as we ride to the next upward approach because these nuts climb the same hill 5 times. Is there a way to replicate this experience on a home trainer? No! I discussed this with the Dutchman after the ride. How can you duplicate the dodging and weaving around soi dogs, killer storm grates, tire destroying potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips? Not to mention the heat, the sometimes poor air quality, the accumulated fatique of cycling daily. Forget it. The only way is to get on that jet plane and come here.

    Quickly, the ride is over. We discuss the ride and future rides (tougher hills to come), drink our hydration electrolyte liquid and part ways. I cool down by riding another 15 km at the beach. The scenes are fantastic.

    Ahh, photos taken on the off day ride...

    1) Stairs ascending Big Buddha hill

    2) Attitude needed to get to the top

    3) Before training in Thailand

    4) After training in Thailand

    5) View 200 meters above sea level

    6) Muay Thai kick boxing training


    January 21, 2024 - Metric century ride to Phala beach

    I feared this would be one long ride, not only for the distance but also for the number of stops needed to eat and rehydrate. It's cool in the morning but as soon as that tropical sun peeks over the horizon, the heat is on. We had a larger than normal group of eight cyclists representing five countries, Thailand, Canada, Netherlands, UK and US. Some of the riders joined us outside of town waiting at a 7-11 store. There are thousands of 7-11s here.

    The ride was hilly because we avoided the coastal highway, preferring quieter and more scenic back roads. Phala was chosen as the halfway point, although we visited two other beaches as well. All were more or less beautiful, typically Thai with temples, archways, gardens of bougainvillea and coconut trees lining the route.

    We stopped at a nearby restaurant which was built within a bamboo forest. I Bong restaurant was the name. There is no polite translation for this place name. Every breakfast ordered was delicious and less than 100 baht. That's 3 bucks for a filling breakfast, Thai style, with fresh coffee and a Thai dessert. I will frequently mention the low costs here for nearly everything locally produced. It's quite easy to find a good meal in the Thai market for 40 baht and local beer for 60 baht at a bar. Hah, even cheaper at 7-11.

    We got back to town at 1 in the afternoon, much too hot at that time to be cycling, 32 C which is over 90 for sure.

    Total kilometers was 103. There were 5 water stops. Dehydration is a constant concern. All the cyclists use an electrolyte power to mix with the water. A month supply costs 100 baht at the pharmacy. Currently, the exchange rate is very favorable at 35 baht to the US dollar.

    Thus ends a typical week of cycling every day, about 300 km this week but I'm not counting.

    Stay warm if possible my SCC friends,

    Mike

    Phala beach 

    Breakfast at I Bong in the bamboo 

    I Bong entrance 


    January 20, 2024

    Just got back from watching the sunset over the Gulf of Thailand, dinner at side walk cafe, then stopped at fruit stand.

    Here's 200 baht 5 bucks of fruit, grown here. Thai bananas, papaya, mango, passion fruit and avocado. Rambutan and oranges thrown in as a bonus.

    Only 3 days supply.

    Sunday tomorrow will be a century ride to Phala beach in Rayong province. Stay tuned! It just gets better...

    January 19, 2024

    It looks like I'll be joining groups here 4 or more times a week. Thursday was an off day giving me time to stock up on groceries at the Farang market and Thai markets. Farang is Thai for anyone not Thai but primarily Western foreigners. At the Farang market I can get items like bread, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. Like in the States, prices are fixed. All produce and fruit I buy at Thai markets where prices are always negotiable. To negotiate prices, a thorough knowledge of the Thai language is required otherwise you get the Farang price. A few snappy phrases in Thai and your price will drop in half.

    You need no car here, a bicycle is all that's needed. I strap on an empty back pack and fill it up before returning to home base. I have never seen any cyclist drive a car to a group ride starting point.

    The interval training at the lake side cycling track is a regular Friday 60 km group ride. This group maintains a 32 kph pace on the flats, 26 kph on the climbs and 36-40 kph on the 5 km home stretch. The only goal I have here is to break 30 kph at the crest of the hill and to pull over 40 kph on the final stretch. No one who has invested thousands of dollars in a carbon bicycle wants a guy on a hand built bamboo bike to drop them. They will stay on my wheel no matter how much it hurts. I've noticed this same phenomenon on our 18.5 mph drop rides. It's always best to leave the ego at home.

    We had a long coffee break at a lake side cafe and then the usual rush back to town at 40 kph, a slight decline helps here. Each rider splits off where convenient and I'm back at the apartment at 10 am.

    The next ride I will join is a metric century to Pala beach in Rayong province on Sunday. A Thai lady will join the group to photograph along the way. Should be hilarious!

    Below are photos of the resort where I stay and Thai markets just up the street.

    Later,

    Mike

    1) Endless salt water pool

    2) Reverse osmosis machine for drinking water

    3) Gym

    4) Fruit stand with local tropical fruit

    5) Fresh local vegetables at market

    6) Mobile street food vendor

    January 17, 2024

    Perfect condition today for the club ride to Bang Saray beach with two flying Dutchmen and two Brits. Hold on there are photos this time. We started out from town later than normal, 6:15 am and picked up the flying Dutchmen brothers en route. These guys like to ride fast and then take long breaks. Nothing is the same as we in Sussex are used to. There is no paceline. You think leading groups in Sussex is like herding cats. Here it's like herding cats on methamphetamines. I'm sure it gets worse in the bigger groups. There may be cyclists from a dozen countries each with their own peculiar cycling culture. Fortunately, this ride was labled as a scenic ride with photo ops.

    Sorry but I couldn't stop to photograph the ten foot cobra crossing the road. I will say that it was nice to see motorists stop to allow the snake a safe crossing. Buddhists are like that. It may be dear departed uncle Somchai in his reincarnation. He did have that habit after all.

    Bang Saray on Wednesdays is always rather empty I am told. It's a beach popular with Thais and gets busy on weekends and holidays.

    Let's describe the ride. We had one slow rider who is just rejoining the club after some medical problems. So for the first half we moved rather slowly for his benefit. We took our first break at the jungle bar and enjoyed some fresh cappuccino. Our slower rider decided he had enough and we parted ways. Here the pace picked up to their normal speed. I am now going metric. When in Rome...BTW the whole world is Rome but with one barbaric outlier. Their normal speed for the rest of the ride was around 30 kph, not real fast but there are a lot of hills in this region and some of the roads in Bang Saray are quite busy.

    We stopped one more time for some photo ops at the beach. This was a social ride for the most part and also an opportunity to check out the area for future rides; good restaurants, good roads, clean, it all checked out well.

    Ahh, the race back to the starting point, these guys can't help it. There's got to be some competition. Once we reached the principal highway, it was a straight 20k shot back to Jomtien beach. The road is smooth and flat with plenty of shoulder, a rare condition here. These guys aren't the fastest in this area. There are more competitive groups of former Euro team cyclists. Hah, not ready for that! But we pushed the needle to 40 kph most of the way passing many motorized vehicles, the three wheeled trikes, tuktuks, can be quite slow.

    The ride total was 75 kilometers. Average 23 kph

    Best sprint on the flat 47 kph

    It always seems easier here, must be the spicy food.

    Later,

    Mike

    Bamboo bike at the jungle bar

    The last three survivors on the ride

    Beach scenes at tropical Bang Saray

    January 15, 2024

    And they said it couldn't be done

    My first week in Thailand is behind me and the jetlag has completely subsided. I'm no longer dizzy and disoriented. For a few days I couldn't know for sure if my experience was real or something from a dream.

    As for cycling, during that first week I cycled 125 miles, 3 group rides and some solo rides around town. I will be shifting to the metric system soon. To those unfamiliar with it, 25 miles equals 40 kilometers, mental math it from there.

    I'm using my flatlander groupset here, so perfect for Sussex county roads. It's a 1 x 11 SRAM Apex. The crankset is a Shimano GRX with a 50 tooth chainring. The cluster has 11-28 teeth. My ride this Tuesday morning was with a small subset of cyclists who love climbing. It's a very small subset, only two showed up. The other cyclists I've met think we're mad to ride on Pratamnak hill, a promontory that separates Pattaya from Jomtien, but it's perfect for training. There is nothing that will get the cyclist to the next level like hill climbs. Embrace it and flat land riding will seem like child's play.

    As all of you know, I encounter a lot of skepticism because of my DIY approach, a hand made bamboo bike, a 1 x 11 groupset... it'll never work. I don't blame the skeptics, they've been convinced by the bicycle industry with million dollar advertising campaigns to think a certain way. Like a bumblebee that's not supposed to fly, just do it. The belief here was that I would not be able to pull these hills with such a small gear range. The gradient is quite steep, perhaps 15 degrees or more and they climb this hill five times. Each time the hill is attacked from a different direction using a different path. The Dutchmen and biggest skeptic broke his shifter on the first hill and had to wait out the ride. The bamboo had no problem although I had to get out of the saddle on the steepest sections. It was only the British climber and I for the rest of the ride, grinding up and flying down, twisting into hairpin turns, dodging wandering dogs and rough potholed roads again and again. Honestly, a larger gear range would be helpful here but we finished the ride side by side and I made a few more believers. Yes, it works! These were the toughest hill climbs this part of Thailand has to offer. The other hills will be a breeze.

    Tomorrow is Wednesday and we take a longer ride to Bang Saray beach. I promise to get some photos. It should be quite beautiful.

    It's not a dream,

    Mike

    January 14, 2024

    Sunday morning at 6 am the Dutchmen meet on a street corner, head out of town and collect Dutchmen on the way. We were heading to the adjoining province of Rayong. A coffee shop there called Phufa Coffee attracts cyclists from all over. They have plenty of bike racks and terrific cappuccinos.

    This was a long ride for one morning with some serious climbing. The scenery was quite spectacular. We passed through rubber plantations, mango orchards and cassava fields while climbing to the coffee shop perched on the side of a mountain. Their entire business seems to rely on cyclists stopping for a coffee break. Indeed, there were many cyclists sweating profusely as they reached the top of the hill. Most so out of breath that they couldn't talk for a minute or so.

    From there it's mostly downhill back to town. I had already consumed all my water so a second stop was needed. Another coffee shop but this one by the lake, Sien View Cafe on Silver lake. This one is also favored by cyclists and I got to field questions about the bamboo bike. A crowd of cyclists collected around the bike out of curiosity. This happens nearly every time I stop somewhere. The Euro bikes, the Chinese bikes, the Japanese bikes get no notice at all but the one American bike catches their eye every time.

    Back to town and the pace picks up to 20-22 mph on the open flats, 18 mph through the towns. We're passing vehicles of all sorts. This is crazy but one has to keep up. I don't know where we're going. The bamboo bike handles the rough roads smoothly. My main concern is the carbon front fork and the wheels. The tires bottom out on the rims too many times despite 100 psi.

    Finally we reach town and have breakfast. 110 baht for coffee, two eggs, toast, jam, butter, two strips of bacon, salad, orange juice, grilled potatoes and water. That's less than 3 dollars. I bought two pairs of socks and a swim suit yesterday for 145 baht, $4.50. This would have cost me more than 50 dollars at Tangier outlet.

    We did over 50 miles, 85 kilometers to be precise and got back before noon. Done for the day.

    I'm looking forward to hill climbs with the climbing group. I'm afraid my 50 tooth chain ring with a 11-28 cluster will not get me to the top of Pratamnak hill. It can be steep. They do this on Tuesday. If I am wise, I'll try the climb solo Monday morning. Why didn't I bring the 11-42 cluster? Will I have to walk up? What a grind that will be.

    Later,
    Mike

    January 12, 2024

    This is what it's like, a very typical ride although this is not the best route. There are many much more scenic; lakes, mountains, temples, wildlife sanctuaries, jungles, etc. Notice the green cycling lanes.

    Click here for YouTube Video

    January 11, 2024

    It's 30 minutes before my 6 am Friday ride. I've been awake since 2 am. The rule of thumb regarding jetlag is to allow one day of recovery for every hour of time displacement. I've got a week to go before synching totally.

    Apologies to my friends, all good cyclists, who are somewhat adverse to servicing their bicycles. Let us say that you will have a greater level of confidence on a bike if you know how to fix it in any situation. I used the water bottle bike stand as an example. It works, it got the job done, it saved me time and money. I will stop here as it is time to meet the group. It is totally dark at 6:00 am.

    Back from the ride at 10 am. There were only 2 other riders. The core of Jomtien cycling club and their fastest riders. They were waiting for me at a nearby 7-11. These guys would have no trouble on our 18.5 drop rides. They like fast and are undaunted by the terrible roads, street dogs, and busy market areas. Mabprachan lake is about 10 miles outside of town. It's a steady climb all the way. To avoid busy roads, we wend and wind our way through markets, pass temples, enter dog infested alleys and hopefully exit unscathed. It's all quite exhilarating and a bit scary especially in darkness. The workout begins at the lake. By this time, the sun has risen and the heat is on. There's always a foggy mist hanging over the lake which quickly burns off. Surrounding the lake is a 10 kilometer bike track, cyclists only and no crazy dog walkers with pepper spray. Thai people don't walk dogs. I love that. Once on the bike track, we can open up the pipes. There are hills, even here. On the flats they maintain 18-20 mph. Climbing the hills, they try to maintain speed while increasing the wattage. It may slow down to 16 mph but they push it all the way to the top. This is the real workout and these guys love their hills. Last year they dropped me every time. This year with the bamboo bike, it's a different story. They may kick me out of the club and I'll have to ride with Euro maniacs if I drop them on the hills.

    We finished the last 5 kilometer stretch at 22 mph. It's a gradual upgrade most of the way and maintaining this speed provides the best interval of the entire ride. This is where the sweat begins to pour. It's over 90 degrees by this time. Luckily, we're in the cold season. It will get worse as April is the start of the hot season.

    Well, they don't do beer as far as I know. We stopped at a coffee shop at the lake, met some friends and rehydrated before heading back to town. I'm sorry I have no photos. It is quite beautiful especially the country side and the jungles. We passed through a jungle on the Wednesday ride cheered on by scores of monkeys. This sure ain't Kansas, Dorothy.

    We did 40 miles today which is average. By the time we reached town, we were dripping with sweat. A good ride for sure. Next ride is Sunday for the long but most scenic ride into the mountains. Hopefully we will have a larger group.

    To return to a topic I initiated, servicing the bike. On my return to Sussex county, I would gladly give tips on zen and the art of bicycle maintenance. Apologies to Robert Persig. I do hope you've read his book. I've invited several club members to drop by my shop. Tom Sheehan and Steve Smith are the only two members who have dared enter the only bamboo frame building facility on the Eastern shore. In fact Tom has done some work for me and the bike I'm riding now has parts machined by Tom. In the process of building Tom's bamboo bike last year, he was with it all the way. So now, he can service his own bikes. You should never miss a ride because you have to take your bike to the shop unless you prefer throwing away your money. There's a work shop available and I charge nothing. Full stop. That's my apology.

    The water bottle bike stand. Tie your front wheel to a vertical surface. I used the kitchen table and two short bungee cords. Lift the rear of the bike onto your water bottle by placing it under the bottom bracket. What else is it for? Now you can adjust your gears as the rear wheel can freely spin. As for adjusting the gears, that too is easy. Until I get back, just YouTube it. There must be a hundred videos on the topic.

    Time to work on my tan.

    Later,
    Mike in Thailand

    January 10, 2024 - Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance

    Wednesday morning I joined a small group of six for a slow ride to Silver lake. The bicycle was totally untested and as always many adjustments would be needed. Keep in mind that in order pack the bike compactly I had to completely disassemble it; pedals, crankset, derailleur, chain, cluster, handlebar, seat, seat post. All these were packed and wrapped with the frame in a suitcase size box. I also packed a small tool set; Allen keys, chain pliers, long nose pliers, screwdriver. 

    We started before dawn and were at the lake at sunrise. It was a motley group of Brits and one Thai lady, our photographer, a good group in this case since I mainly wanted to road test the bike. All went well. A few minor adjustments to the brakes and gears would be needed but that was expected.

    Here's where the zen comes in aka Yankee ingenuity. Of course I didn't bring a bike stand which is needed to adjust gears. In the photos is the tool kit and the water bottle bike stand. Everything is adjusted perfectly now and I'm ready for the next ride. A good cyclist should be able to work on their own bike. It's a dang bicycle not the space shuttle. 

    Next ride is Friday with a faster group. We will be riding to lake Mabprachan which has a 10 kilometer bike track encircling it. 

    Stay warm,
    Mike

    Dawn at Silver lake
      

    Tools
     

    Bike stand

    January 8, 2024 - Thai arrival

    I just arrived in Thailand yesterday morning at 1am. Bike arrived as well but it was an anxious thirty minutes waiting for it at baggage claim, worn but not broken. Waited several hours at Suvarnabhumi airport for first bus to Jomtien beach. Two hours to Jomtien and my cycling buddy was waiting for me in the bus station at 9:30. No car! He has a small motorbike. I had to ride on the pillion with a bicycle on my lap, a backpack and a duffle bag between my legs. Typical Thailand behavior. Glad I didn't bring the grand kids. 

    My cycling buddy, Rinus, showed me to my new quarters on the 8th floor of the Park Lane Jomtien Resort. The apartment has all amenities, 250 USD a month. He then took me around the resort, gym, and pool. Outside within 200 meters, are restaurants, laundry, bakery, convenience stores, fruit stands, all very convenient. It should be three months of easy living. 

    I assembled the bike this morning at 2am. Jet lag is not too bad this trip but several days are needed to synch sleep pattern, 12 hour time difference. 

    This first full day is mainly for food shopping and getting the bike finished. I still need wheels because I decided that packing wheels would be too bulky. I hope to be rolling this week. 

    Weather is hot and dry. It is now 30 degrees Celsius about 90 Fahrenheit. December through March is the cold season with very little rain.

    Tomorrow the Jomtien cycling club meets at 6am for a short ride to Silver lake. I expect about 6-8 riders and a moderate pace similar to the Dewey beer Monday ride, a good break in and road test for the bike and me. Bill, feel free to post this email to the club if you like.

    Later,
    Mike

    Park Lane Jomtien Resort
     

    Road to Silver lake taken last year

     


  • 01/17/2024 10:51 AM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Linda Snader, thank for sharing this wonderful photo of snow on Gordon's Pond trail. For a moment I thought you took it!


  • 01/16/2024 3:08 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    I’m excited to serve as Sussex Cyclists new Ride Director. My thanks to John Martinez, Allen Segal, Bill Gorodetzer, Lou DiStefano, Bob Browne, John Kurpjuweit and so many other members for their support and guidance over the years. We have an extraordinary club and I am grateful to be a part of it. In my new role, I look forward to everyone’s input.

    Here’s to another successful and fun year filled with safe rides, collaboration and good times.

    Neil Forster

  • 01/14/2024 4:03 PM | Sussex Cyclists (Administrator)

    Be inspired by these bike themed films featuring different riders from around the world at the Virtual Bicycle Film Festival Worldwide.  Choose the lowest price of $33 to get access to all of the films.

    Enjoy!
    Dave Porter

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