Thursday, November 1, 2012

Airless, puncture-proof mountain bike tire in the works

Nothing can derail mountain biking fun like a punctured tire. For those who aren’t too nifty with their roadside repair skills, a new airless, puncture-proof tire is on the way.
Read more....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why we Need to Develop Mountain Biking Trails in Thailand

Why we Need to Develop Mountain Biking Trails in Thailand

The potential for MTB in Thailand is endless. Bangkok itself and the surrounding provinces like Nonthaburi, Suphanburi and Ayutthaya are ultra flat but travel just a couple of hours in any direction and the mountainous terrain is amazing. Unfortunately for most Bangkokians don’t even know what all mountain or downhill mountain biking is all about and although I don’t want to knock XC MTBers the locals spend most of their biking time riding on flat boring dirt roads traveling as slow as possible and stopping now and again to point at and pick fruit from trees.

As well as these flat dirt roaders there are others that think mountain biking means riding a mountain bike on tarmac roads dressed in their best Sunday spandex with racing slicks on their 24,000 baht Mavic Crossmax, when it would be fair to say that that’s road biking and you can use a sports cycle with rigid forks for that.

Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand is the established Mecca of downhill mountain biking. With a handful of downhill and all mountain trails, great trails but still none of which are of a world-class standard. The hype for most mountain bikers who travel to Chiang Mai to have a go at the trails there is simply to say that they had a go at the sport in a country warm enough to call it jungle single track.

With tourism at a 49 years low in the kingdom it would be great to see the MTB Tour companies who operate in Chiang Mai and its surrounding areas investing more time developing tracks and promoting the sport more with XC and downhill races and maybe some even some 4x and slope style competitions.

The 2007 Asean Downhill competition was held near Lam Tha Khong Dam on the outskirts of Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Rachasima Province which gave mountain bikers in Central Thailand some hope that the sport had reached a new level and more trails would be built but after a visit to the site where the event was held just a few months after the trail had gone back to being an unused overgrown path and the locals had forgotten all about it.

There is some great potential for mountain biking trails in Central Thailand too but the locals and expats who live there don’t seem to get the time or feel the need to go out and build more trails just keep riding the same old trails at Khao I-to in Prachinburi and Tamp Pra Toon in Chonburi. Again, these are two great trails to get your teeth into but become boring for the people who ride them all the time and are quite difficult for those who are just getting into the sport with their awkward and steep uphill sections being very punishing in the hotter months.

What mountain bikers in Thailand would like to see is more purpose built trails developed in the area. Locations such as Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi and Khao Yai would be perfect locations for mountain bikers in the country to get together and develop some world-class trails with manageable uphill sections and great downhill sections to cater for all MTB disciplines.

M.T. Hill Tours encourages the growth of Mountain Biking and Eco-tours in Thailand and our Mountain Bike Tours Thailand website is a free information site with free GPS waypoints for all central Thailand trails and information about mountain biking in central Thailand and Chiang Mai. Our all new English MTB forum has been set up to encourage groups of mountain bikers to get together and help to develop new mountain bike trails all over the country.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mountain Biking MTB Singletrack Trails Offroad Bangkok and Surrounding Provinces in Thailand

Mountain Biking MTB Singletrack Trails Offroad Bangkok and Surrounding Provinces in Thailand

So you have heard that there is a mountain biking track in Khao yai or somewhere so you arrange transport there with your mountain bike, pay the 400 Baht fee to get in and ask the nearest person of authority where the mountain bike track is. You get the answer 'mai mee' (no have). But you are persistent you drive and ask the information person, same answer 'mai mee' but you've come all this way an paid all that money so your not giving up yet. You drive some more to ask the next to next information box. Hooray! The guy says it's down the road on the left. Now you're excited, you get the bikes off your transport and head for the trails. Upon arriving you see the track and it's painted on the side of the road oh no its not a mountain bike track it's a 'cycle lane'.

This is a common misunderstanding made when trying to find a mountain bike track in Thailand. If you're lucky you will find an xc trail on dirt roads which can be fun but its very hard to find proper a singletrack trail in a mountain. But with so many mountains in Kanchanaburi, Khaoyai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Petchaburi there is a lot of potential in Thailand for some great swooping single track.

Tips for finding a good track:

The best place to find a track is on the internet. Or find a tour company that knows where to find a trail. Another good way is to invest in a gps receiver or even a phone with gps and a Garmin program installed these are a great help as 99% of trails are unmarked, if someone has Gps and tracked a trail you can easily follow it with out getting lost these can be downloaded from blogs and website which can easily be found with a Google search.

When asking for directions try not to mention the words 'mountain bike track' just ask for trail for walkers or hikers or even a trail going up a mountain. The best people to ask are the rangers of the area you're going to, they may now everything about the mountains.

When following a trail for the first time expect to get lost so it is very important to take as much water as you can. A good accessory to get is a hydration pack. With temperatures of around 40 degrees + high humidity water is used very quickly, I have seen people only fill up there hydration packs half way, if you know the trail this is fine but if not always fill your pack to the top as you could get lost and be stuck in the jungle with no water. The water you carry will get warm very quickly so a good tip is to add some hydration powder which not only helps with your hydration it also makes the water taste of orange, this can be bought from 7/11 or Boots for around 5 baht and is called Dchamp.

A recommended place to go for some proper mountain biking is khao I-to / E-to this is all off road with lots of different trails which are maintained by the ranger there is a very steep climb to the top on a road but if the ranger or someone in the khao i-to bike club is available they can run you to the top for a small fee. The trail are quite technical at times and are easily as good as the marked trails you would find in Europe. At the moment this place is by far the best place to go within driving distance of Bangkok for some real singletrack mountain biking some more information can be found here.

If any one has any more information about mountain biking trails, Bangkok and surrounding provinces let me know.

Mountain Biking Tours Thailand is a totally free information site, that has all the information you need for your mountain biking holiday in Thailand. Please keep the informaton flowing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Riding a Bicycle in Bangkok Thailand, Asia

Riding a Bicycle in Bangkok Thailand, Asia

Can you ride a bicycle in Bangkok?

The answer to this question surprisingly is, yes. There are even some cycle lanes in certain areas with elevated cycling paths in the Sukhumvit area and in the Banglamphu area near the famous Khaosan road there are free shopping type bicycles you can take out which are the brainchild of the present mayor of Bangkok in his first period of office along with the many cycling lanes in the area that have appeared in the last two years.

Banglamphu Cycling Lanes

The cycle lanes in the Khaosan Road area are painted on the side of the road and are fairly easy to follow which will mean you won’t get lost but there are some problems. Most of the cycle lanes are parked on with cars which can result in having to ride into oncoming traffic so the best thing to do is ride carefully on the foot path to be safer.

Places to See by Bicycle

These cycling lanes lead you to some interesting little tourist sites such as Bangkok’s China Town, the Golden Mount Pagoda which at only 20 baht to enter is one of the best Temples in Bangkok and a great view point from which to see a 360 degree view of the city and Bangkok’s old prison which is now park.

The Basic Rules for Riding on the Main Roads in Bangkok

The main roads are always busy and can be dangerous for a cyclist but you will often see the locals on bikes peddling sausages or lottery tickets etc. If you do ride on the big roads then try to keep to the left and always remember the rule ' the biggest has right of way'.

Another thing that you should try to practice is wave on coming motorbikes going the wrong way on the road over on to your right as they can see the traffic behind you but you can’t. It is also said that when riding on the road in Bangkok then ride in the center of the lane, cars will get angry and press their horns but at least they can see you in full view and riding this way can prevent accidents.

The Best Places to Ride in Bangkok

Where are the best places to ride a bike in Bangkok? You can ride bicycles in a lot of Bangkok’s parks. One of the biggest and nicest parks is at Phuttamonthon Sai 3 there are quiet roads to follow through the park with lakes and lots of wildlife to see, there is also a 7km mountain bike trail to follow.

Riding on Elevated Footpaths

Other good places to ride are the local sois (lanes) these places are usually quiet and don't have much traffic and can follow narrow roads and Klongs (canals). You will often see small shops to buy refreshments if needed. You could almost mistake yourself for being in another city in some sois. The noise from the traffic is lost and trees and local Thai houses make good scenery.

Cycling Tour Companies in Bangkok

There are also tour companies that can take you on short trips. These trips take you over bridges down local sois and through temples avoiding the main roads. Some are at night and some are combined with long tail boat rides.

Mountain Biking Tours Thailand is a totally free information site, that has all the information you need for your mountain biking holiday in Thailand. The site is taken care of by M.T. Hill Tours, Mountain Biking Adventures Thailand. Please keep the information flowing.

Bangkok, Phuttamonthon XC Single Track Trail

Bangkok, Phuttamonthon XC Single Track Trail

Bangkok MTB Cross Country Territory?

If you’ve ever visited Bangkok then you would be forgiven for writing the city off as cross country mountain biking territory. For one the city is a giant metropolis with traffic so bad and so many roads that public parks are scarce and national parks or country parks are non-existent.

The Thai Idea of Mountain Biking

But even though the roads seem far too dangerous to ride on you will see plenty of the locals riding around on their hundred thousand baht plus mountain bikes dressed in their spandex with narrow road tires on their full suspension bikes and the first impression is that the Thai idea of mountain biking is our idea of road biking.

An MTB-XC Track Close to Bangkok?

But there is a great XC single track not too far away from the hustle and bustle of city in beautiful Phuttamonthon Park, Phuttamonthon Sai See (Sai 4) just an hour away from Sukhumvit and only 30 minutes away from the Khaosan Road area that's easily reachable by taxi or tuk-tuk or even better if you live here and have your own transport.

Phuttamonthon Park MTB XC Trail

The trail is 7 km of flat single track but don't let this put you off. The trail which is well looked after is purpose built for XC mountain biking and is a nice fast track. It consists of switch backs and rises and dips in places with small burms that weave in and out of the trees and small plank bridges that connect the track over small becks. The trail is a great introduction to single track mountain biking and a good bit of exercise, often used for training by seasoned semi pros. This trail is great fun and only about 30 minutes to one hour drive (depending on the traffic of course) from the center of Bangkok.

Wildlife in the Park

The park is full of wild life including giant terrapins and a protected species of giant Malaysian monitor lizards known as Tua Thong Tua Nguen (gold body, silver body) in Thai which should not be provoked as according to Bear Grills of ‘Man against Wild’ Fame once these beasts get hold of you they don’t let go. However do not be afraid of the giant monitors they often lay basking on the track but are used to the MTB traffic and will soon move when they see you coming.

Finding the Trail

The trail can be quite difficult to find but you can find a
map of the park on the Mountain Bike Tours Thailand website. To find the trail go to the far end of the park (the opposite corner of the park from the entrances). There is a straight canal running parallel to the road near the trail and the start of the trail across from the canal, look for a small sign nailed to a tree showing the start of the trail. Once you have found the start point the trail is easy to follow and it is marked every so with signs showing the distance to the end of the trail