City slickers may not feel it yet but in many parts of the country people are well aware of the arrival of the cool season. The chilly breeze in the morning is nice when you are in warm clothes on a cosy sofa sipping a nice cup of hot, aromatic coffee. But when you're out on the road doing long-distance cycling, the same wind blowing in your face can be your worst enemy.
Nevertheless on Dec 2, the first Sunday of the year's final month when the cool season will be reaching its climax and the winds stronger than they are now, hundreds of fearless cyclists will be gathering at Farm Chokchai in Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima, to race their way to the podium of the 2nd Tour de Farm competition.
According to Chai Bulakul, managing director of the farm and organiser of the tour, this year's event will be completed in a single day to make sure nobody misses any part of it.
"It will be even more fun and more participants are expected," said Chai, an avid cyclist himself. Two choices of race route, one 107km and the other 60km, are available, he explained, adding that racers on each route will be categorised into several groups by age and gender as well as by type of bicycle.
"This time we've added fixed gear bikes, in addition to road and mountain bikes," Chai elaborated. "At first, I wasn't sure if fixed gear riders would be able to make it through such hilly terrain with just one single gear and no freewheel but after a couple of practice rides with some of them I have no more doubts."
However, he added that for safety reasons all fixies joining the competition are required to be fitted with a brake.
The 107km race, the main event, is divided into five stages, with two special sections, one a 1km-long straight and level stretch and the other a 300m arduous climb. The first racer in each category to complete the two special zones will be crowned "King of the Sprint" and "King of the Mountain", respectively.
And, of course, the top winner in each category will earn the title "King of Tour de Farm" which comes with a bright yellow jersey and a trophy in the shape of a bullhorn handlebar. Breakfast and lunch from the farm's famous Chokchai Steakhouse and dairy shop will be provided to racers of both the short and long routes. For those who do not wish to stay in the many hotels in Pak Chong and KhaoYai, a camping site with bathrooms has been arranged at a nearby school for use free of charge.
The registration fee for racers in every category is 700 baht if done online via www.farmchokchai.com and www.thaimtb.com/forum (search for "Tour de Farm2"). Those who register before Nov 20 will be covered by accident insurance. Of course, you can register on the race day prior to the ride, but the fee will be upped to 900 baht. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Foundation for KhaoYai National Park Protection.
Actually, on the very same weekend, there is another big bicycle event in Hua Hin, the Hua Hin Classic 2012, which includes a race for road bikes on Saturday and another one for mountain bikes on Sunday.
But because of the promise of beautiful scenery along the race routes and fun atmosphere of the Tour de Farm, some of the teams competing in Hua Hin on Saturday have confirmed they will rush to Farm Chokchai that evening to join this event as well.
For those who are not keen enough to take part in the races, not even the 60km route, just watching them would be an eye-opening experience. Besides, there will also be a barbecue festival and an exhibition of rare bicycles you can enjoy, not to mention the lovely weather.
If you wish to know more about the Tour de Farm cycling event, call 083-705-0902 or 083-703-4508.
Well, see you here again next Thursday. Until then, if you have questions, news or biking insights you wish to share, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to "Freewheel Bangkok" community page on Facebook.
Pongpet Mekloy is the Bangkok Post travel editor and a mountain bike freak.
About the author
- Writer: Pongpet Mekloy
Position: Travel Editor