May 2005

Kanchanaburi, 28/29 May 2005


Juan 'Juan Way' C


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Rides:- 220/221Date:- 28/29 May 2005River Kwai ResotelHares:- Juan and SanScribe:- Vincent Souffay (Reverse Screw)The beginning of a Legend.I recall having to pay 300Bahts for the Saturday ride. Damn expensive I thought for a 3 hour outing.  Now – I think it was a damn good investment 300B a 12 hours outing!The Kanchanaburi hash organized by Juan and San is probably one of the most unforgettable ones I ever participated in. An unexpected 40kms of constant up hills and down hills – a real rollercoaster ride.  With tarmac, dirt roads, jungle, wet sand and slush – we had everything. Not too many checks – (did somebody say “what checks?”) And good weather too! A little drizzle to cool off the hot black tarmac – a bit of rain on the dirt roads; the weather was with us. We were in a wonderful countryside just 30km away from the Burmese border with lush forest, beautiful fields and hills that literally took your breath away. The ride was excellent – hard but excellent. We had all sorts of terrain, some technical down hills, some swift pedaling through wet sand and knee deep rivers.I have to admit I didn’t ride all the way to the end as yours truly did a 8km detour to catch up with a visitor. New comers, visitors, please do remember that the concept of a Bike Hash is to follow the trail of paper on your left.  At 5 o’clock I still had another 13 km of off-road roller coaster riding when a huge pick-up grabbed me and a couple of straddlers on the way to the pier.  We reached there by 5-30 to see a group of 50-some people waiting by the river at the rendez-vous point for the raft.By this time, the raft was one hour late. “One hour?” “Bah! All is well…” Nobody panicked.  We kept our spirits up as we swam in the Kwai river – some singing songs – some getting to know the group – others chatting about the ride. Juan was trying to decipher what somebody was saying through a walkie-talkie as no mobile phone had any network.-What did he say, Juan?-Um.. screech shhhhrrr rrhhssh screeehh! -Yeah – that’s what I thought.After a while, Tim, Annie and Struan had taken a small long-tail boat down the river in search of the missing raft to see what was going on.  It seemed the raft was waiting at the wrong pier … by Another big green tree!Everybody kept there cool, finishing the last of the ration bars and water in the camelbaks. Two hours had passed and we were still waiting for the raft. The wind got cooler and cooler while we still wore our wet shorts and bike shirts. Our Indian hash members started to build a campfire and Ken – using his band-aids set it alight - burning half the hair off Anthony’s right arm.The sun had started to set and a swarm of fireflies started to dance attracted by campfire. Nice try – but still not enough light.  When suddenly in the distance – as if taken from a scene of “Apocalypse now” - we heard the sputtering of a longtail boat and the outline of strong headlights. Soon followed by another smaller longtail.People returning to Bangkok that night were loaded in priority with their bikes and the rest to fill the boat. The plan was to go to the raft to drop those who were staying at the resort and then continue downstream to the pier where the cars were parked.  Half way down we see rapids and a landslide which had taken down huge tree trunks that took half of the riverbed. Wait a minute – how could a raft go upstream through rapids?We reached the raft when we were presented with another dilemma: there wasn’t enough petrol to sail us down to the parking pier and then ride back up to get the forty some people who were still stranded up river.  A decision was taken to alight the bikes returning to Bangkok on the raft and send both longtails up to the rescue – once everybody had gotten to the raft – those who were to leave for Bangkok would be sent to the parking pier, or so we thought...No one lost there cool at this “new” news. We were on the raft – there was food and beer, we just squatted ate and drank thankful that we had made it up to here. One hour later we heard the distant sputter of the longtails coming back with riders. The second wave got on the barge and ran towards the beer and sandwiches. There are still 12 people waiting upstream.What’s going on – the longtails aren’t moving? There’s no petrol left at all and there are a dozen people upstream with 47 bikes! Grand discussion with the longtail captains when suddenly a Genius had the idea of sending a small boat downstream to get some petrol. I don’t know who it was but thank you. A half hour has gone by when the decision is taken to get some petrol, another half hour goes by waiting for the petrol to reach the raft and 2 longtails fastened to it.  At last the longtails to go and get the others who were still stranded by the river.Meanwhile upriver the campfire was burning full blast. It’s been 2 hours since the group of forty some riders has been reduced to 12. The brave remaining hashers had gotten all the bikes down by the riverbed to load them on the longtails quickly once they returned. Assuming that it would take another hour – you see they didn’t know that we were out of petrol. When out of nowhere a Thai woman arrived on a small boat and opened up her little fast-food joint beside them. Small BBQs, some sausages, eggs and cigarettes were on the menu, a true floating 7-11.There was some idle chat until finally she asked why the bikes where so close to the river bed?  Why? To get on the longtail boats of course!  Ah but is it 10pm now and they open the dam at 9pm and the water level is going up FAST. And indeed it is: the first bikes are ankle deep in water!!!  So the Dirty Dozen who had gotten dirty by bringing all 47 bikes down had to form a chain to bring the 47 bikes back up again when 20 minutes later the longtails finally arrive and once more the 47 bikes had to be brought down and on the longtails!Downriver we were still wondering what was going on with the longtails that had gone to get the remaining dozen. The Resotel raft looks like a raft of fortune. Bikes on one side, people squatting sitting sleeping on the floor. Life jackets are worn by everybody to protect them from the cold; I suspect some wore them because they were afraid the raft would collapse.More news:  Hashers riding back to Bangkok will have to leave their bikes behind as the “parking pier” for some reason was no longer accessible. It was like asking you to cut your right arm and leave it there. Hashers returning to Bangkok have gone mute with consternation.  I decide I’ll stay behind and make sure two bikes (Guillaume’s and mine) are returned to their rightful owners.Long tails start coming towards the raft – Hurray! The dirty dozen made it!  No! They didn’t. Actually the longtails are here to take us to another pier where songtaews will bring us back to the resort.   We’re not even asking why anymore. People just get on and get going. I stay back with Ken, Struan, Anthony, Sam, Paul, and a couple of other hashers until the last longtail boat arrives; we take our survival supplies: cans of Chang beer.We reach the pier – or what we called two wooden planks nailed one to the other next to an irregular trail of slush and dirt. Struan, trying to jump on the slushy riverbed, actually landed chest deep into the Kwai river. We trailed up to the top where the 3 songtaews were waiting for us using a funky disco bike flashlight. We let one pick-up go and decided to wait with the 2 other pick-ups for the dirty dozen who were supposed to meet us.It was now half past 11. We had awoken the patrons of local shop to get something to eat as we were famished. Cometh midnight we hear a sputter of an engine by the river, I grab the flashlight and run to the pier, it’s the Dirty Dozen! All of them on the last longtail boat, dirty, cold, exhausted: Pam, Tim, Eric, Frederic, Henri, Gael, Jason, Singh, Vijay, Niraj, Juan, and another hasher whose name I cannot recall…. we get to the pickups.We jump on and we’re as packed as a pick-up on a songkran holiday! After half and hours’ ride we reach the Pier parking!  Bloody hell! What’s this?  We have to get on another longtail boat to take us to the Resotel.Too tired to comment – we get on and finally after 6 hours on the river we finally arrived to the Resotel for a buffet and beers. At the entrance we see the Resotel sign “An unforgettable experience”. Oh Yes.00-45am, Pam, Sam, Ken, Struan, Jason, Frederic, Henri, Vijay, Singh, and Niraj are sitting in a deserted lounge while I am jotting down the major events of this unbelievable day. At one point there is an uncontrollable fit of laughter as the nerves are telling the brain that we’ve made it - Pam decides to have the mother of all circles the next day.The Sunday ride was a quick one – yours truly didn’t ride it but there were 15 bikers who did do it. At noon, we had our circle and a naming ceremony.  Our Indian friend Singh was named “Dragon breath” for helping start the campfire by the riverbed.After a long debate and several doubtful names we settled with “One-way Juan” for our hare that made this an unforgettable ride while co-hare San pampered her bruises – smurf style. Actually one huge bruise that started at the waist and went down to the knee she got making sure nobody was hurt.On a sadder note we learnt that our Bike doctor Ken Atkinson was leaving us.  Bon voyage Ken, we will miss you and the torch grilled marshmallows.On a more entrepreneurial note, Jason Smith & Greg Turner – of the “Adventure Equipment Asia” are soon to have their own local by Sukhumvit, soi 26 for Biking equipment, next to the S&P restaurant.  A full service of your bike (including delivery of your bike to your home) is available for 500Bahts from Wednesday 1st June onwards. For more details – check the web-site. Well Done Jason and Greg, best of luck.After a couple of down-downs and a reminder to the visitors that the events of the previous day were and will remain exceptional. Or so we hope …   Again, great warm-hearted thanks to the Dirty dozen: Pam, Tim, Eric, Frederic, Henri, Gael, Jason, Singh, Vijay, Niraj, the “unknown hasher” and Juan.It seems that a few visitors were actually thrown off by the “stay cool” attitude the hashers had during the epic events of the previous day & the misconception that this happened on all rides dawned on them. Thankfully, the committee was quick to correct this.And to remind all NOT to expect the previous days’ events on the 3-day Bike Interhash of June.Hashers who haven’t signed up you’ve got all the details on the main page of this website.We had a couple of ground breaking records during this hash. To name a few:·          Longest roller coaster ride: 40kms.·          Largest amount of petrol consumed by Bike hashers: 50 liters·          Largest number of mountain bikes lifted under one hour: (47 * 3) = 141·          Largest number of bikes stashed on a longtail boat: 47.·          Largest number of visitors who swore they would never come back: 8.·          Above all: the very first time a whole group of Bike hashers made it back to the resort without their bikes. What can we say? “Amazing Thailand.”On OnReverse Screw


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