Too many people for individual trophies this year, thankfully. The 50-km Valentine’s Day ride to Pak Meng on Sunday the 12th was over 500 riders. That’s a line of 2 by 2 bicycles 250 riders long; imagining 10-15 feet between them, it would stretch almost ¾ of a mile long. It was surprisingly orderly except when encountering hills and rubber-necking flat tires.
The pace was 20 km/hour (12 mph) so just about everyone could hold their place in line. The second vehicle in the parade was this street “illegal” sound truck that took every bit of a single lane and most of the shoulder with it’s crew of “mic jockeys” who cajoled, encouraged (and scolded the riders who rode outside the twin rows) for the entire length of the ride. When the new King was Crown Prince he led a couple of nation-wide rides called “Bike for Dad” (for his father, the King who recently died) and “Bike for Mom” for his mother the Queen; the theme song from one of those rides, sung monotonously, filled the roadway when the microphones weren’t blaring.
Stanna and I had ridden this event round-trip last year, earning our name-engraved trophy on stage with the Provincal Governor (everyone got one). But Stanna opted to use the motor scooter this year, anticipating high winds on the return journey. However, she needn’t have worried, the organizers planned for the tired masses by recruiting a motorcycle delivery truck and air conditioned bus to carry at least 100 bikes and riders back to Trang.
Pak Meng is the closest beach to Trang and the departure port for many of the daily island tours. Only two foreigners were among the fleet, myself and a Frenchman I’d never seen in Trang. One thing we’ve gotten used to is having our photo taken with lots of complete strangers, so after the group photo we asked to have just us in one.
A number of other riders and I chose to take the long way home on lightly trafficked roads, south along the coastline thru a National Park, on to a hot springs and back to Trang thru Kantang, turning the holiday event into a formidable ride of 120 km over 8 hours.