Walking into the Dragon’s Mouth

January 20, 2020. Thailand

So the plan comes together and all the pieces fall into place. We will spend the next two months traveling in tropical South East Asia. I have a brand new tandem, a dedicated stoker, Lucy. We get to ride with good friends Irène and Joël that have done quite a bit of cycle touring all over the world.

Mel and Dana assembling the Azub tandem in the hotel Garden in Bangkok
Fully loaded Azub tandem with Captain and Stoker
Basic trip plan through Thailand (T), Laos (L), and Vietnam (V). The blue dot is our current position just about 200km from the start at Bangkok Airport.

Here’s the glitch. Tandems are not easy to ride. It takes the team of two riders a while to build up the experience needed. The 40kg tandem is loaded with 45kg of equipment. From a standing start, getting this thing rolling fast enough so that it can be balanced, takes a concerted effort of the two riders. When this fails, the bike wobbles and crashes at low speed. It is a little embarrassing in the parking lot. It is scary in traffic.

Lucy and I had done some training on a tandem in Santiago. That was child’s play compared to the fully loaded tandem we were to start our journey with. After a few low speed crashes in the hotel parking lot, we were ready to go play in traffic.

Well I would have wanted several days to get our routine down before starting such a large tour; however, we didn’t have that luxury. The bike was assembled, Joël and Irène were arriving the next day, and the sun had gone down. I remember telling Dana that I felt like I was walking into the mouth of a Dragon.

Not feeling ready has come up many times in my life. I have proceeded with good outcomes in the past. My recipe is pay close attention, don’t panic. In the end it all worked out. Lucy and I overcame the challenges and can deal with the chaos of Bangkok traffic.

Cycling in Bangkok traffic can be chaotic

We did have a number of low speed crashes in traffic in the process of learning. Somehow through it all, I still have Lucy’s confidence.

As we head north toward Laos and away from Bangkok, the traffic has become less of a problem and the scenery has become quite special.

Irène is the team ambassador. Every morning we practice important phrases like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ in the local dialect.
Joël is responsible for finding the best route and booking hotels. He also takes the best pictures. He has a flying camera.

My job is to keep the tandem from flopping over. I am still a beginner.
Lucy fits in well with the group. She is teaching us all more Spanish. Which turns out to be somewhat similar to French

5 thoughts on “Walking into the Dragon’s Mouth

  1. Wow, Tim! Best of luck on your tandem team and tour, especially weather. What a life! I’ve shared your blog and people comment what a great writer you are. New Year (Rat) is coming up fast!

    Like

  2. Tim – Lucy and yourself are doing awesome – I know you will work out the kinks and have a very memorable tour – Take care and safe peddling

    Tom

    Like

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