Ever since it was mentioned in a popular song by the late singing legend Suraphol Sombatcharoen decades ago, Suphan Buri's Suan Taeng has been familiar name for Thais. Strangely though, people in other provinces know little about the tambon which is part of Suphan Buri's Muang district, perhaps not even its location.
In the BMX racing circle, however, it is well known that Suan Taeng is home to Khru Jon's Track, the training ground of one of the sport's formidable forces, the BMX Suphan Buri GT Thailand Team.
The team's main coach and athlete Chakkit Thong-on, better known as Ajarn Daeng among BMXers and mountain bikers in the know nationwide, has won the national champion titles (30-year-old category) in both BMX racing and MTB supercross for three years in a row. Many younger members of the team also finished the 2013 race season among the top five in their age categories.
And the oldest racer, the 53-year-old Sawat Nilsorn, or Khru Jon, on whose family's land the track was built, was the second runner-up (30-year-old category) in MTB supercross.
Once a mango orchard, the BMX racing track here is surrounded by rice fields and other farmland. Khru Jon, a teacher at a local school, joined forces with like-minded friends to build it not just to satisfy their passion but also to encourage youngsters and teenagers in surrounding villages to engage in sport rather than in video games or drugs which is rampant in the area.
But it's not easy to convince parents in rural neighbourhoods that riding bikes and flying over those huge jumps is good for their children. Khru Jon said a number of boys with good potential missed the opportunity to become racers because they had to help with household work. One of them, after months of training, failed to show up for weeks because he had to stay at the family's rice field to guard the water pump.
Yes, it's sad but that's life. Anyway, the team now has 15 riders, the youngest is three years old. "He's very young and has to join the races in the eight-year-old category but we just want him to have a good time and get used to the competition atmosphere," Khru Jon explained to me.
Since the national championship series for 2013 is already complete, Khru Jon and the team plans to hold an activity at their track soon. The dates are not yet confirmed but they are likely to be Oct 26-27. Of course, there will be fun BMX and MTB supercross races.
"All are welcome. We want people to know about our track in Suan Taeng," he said with a broad smile.
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 email@example.com or go to "Freewheel Bangkok" community page on Facebook.
Pongpet Mekloy is the Bangkok Post's travel editor and a mountain bike freak.
About the author
- Writer: Pongpet Mekloy
Position: Travel Editor