Photo submitted by Kyle Schultz, “1500m above the valley floor, up in the clouds, I ran across two mountain bikers.”

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  1. I’ve stayed at the Kings summer home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but this place I’ve never heard of. Is the root of their language Kanssrit? Sounds very exotic.

  2. Actually, the title is a little off. This was taken a little closer to Doi Pui, a peak up behind Doi Suthep. I did not learn much Thai while I was there, but the name of each hill or mountain was preceded by the word “doi”. I assumed that it indicated a peak or mountain. Obviously this is a pheonetic translation into the Latin Alphabet, so the spelling could be different from what you are used to.

    On top of Doi Suthep is a relatively famous temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The road to the temple is 11km, averaging 6% and is a very popular destination for cyclists. The base of the climb is only about 3km from the center of Chiang Mai. As the road continues past the temple toward the Bhuping Palace (the Winter Palace and the home of the Queen’s Garden), it kicks up to average 8% for another 6km. Past the palace, the road is much less used and has been allowed to deteriorate. The surface is loose gravel and there are numerous pot holes. But this is the more rewarding portion of the climb and where this picture was taken. Up here you are riding through a mountain top jungle. Even on the hottest days, it is cool and refreshing. The road continues through the trees another 3km to near the top of Doi Pui. On the other side of the fence is a steep drop that overlooks and heavily touristed village several hundred meters below.

    The mountain bikers arrived as I was taking a break. We talked about the climb and the weather in their broken English and my terrible Thai. Then they shared some of their food, a small banana packed into the center of a sticky rice ball, wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over coals. We rested and enjoyed the 70 degree temperatures (as it was over 90 in the valley below) before taking off for the long descent back home.

  3. You’ve been to Chiang Mai, but not Doi Sutep? It’s like…the thing that put Chaing Mai on the map. It’s the giant temple on the mountain…the place that gave rise to the term “white elephant”. Absolutely stunning.

  4. Eh? I thought albino elephants–very rare– gave rise to the term white elephant. That’s why they were given sacred status in the royal palace?

  5. Oh man, I rode up to Doi Suthep on an old KHS mountain bike I rented in town. The ride up was pretty murderous, but the way down was incredible. I actually had to pull over for a little while to let a tour bus get way ahead of me, because it was slowing me down and taking up the whole road.

  6. The descent was always scary, but great. I would ride the 11km to the temple at least twice a week so I knew the road pretty well. The buses were the worst. They would take up both lanes in the corners, which proved to be a nasty surprise on several occasions. I could definitely go faster than most of the traffic going down. It was fun to get passed by some kids on a motorbike and then sit in behind them. Eventually they would catch me in their mirror and turn around, surprised I was still there.

    I never had to ride it on a rental bike though. Glad you got to experience it. That climb is one of my favorite memories.

What do you think?