Friday February 21st and it’s time for us to ride some ~300km to Chiang Khong where we’ll ride across the new Friendship Bridge to Huay Xai, Laos!
Rendezvous at the PTT station just outside of Chiang Mai on the 118-
Six of us are riding from Chiang Mai and we’ll meet two more in Chiang Khong. In this group we’ve got 3 Kawasaki Versys, 2 Kawasaki KLX and 1 BMW F800GS.
The 118 is notorious for it’s slippery spots, especially in the rain, but today was cool and sunny, yet as we rode north I saw both Robert and Richard slip and slide on their Versys and my KLX on off-road knobblies seemed to be sliding more than usual, so we all took it easy and were going at a real modest pace when much to my shock and dismay our fearless leader David, who was some ~20-30 yards in front of me, not going fast or leaning hard, suddenly his bike spit out from under him and slid down the road and into the ditch. Surprised the hell out of me, and I must say I was amazed and relieved to see you stand right up after rolling and sliding that far down the pavement!!
Hope David won’t mind me borrowing this picture:
Unhurt and still smiling- David is a tough dude!
Here’s David’s thread on the crash with a lot more pictures: Ooops done it yet again – another spill
ATGATT did it’s job and David escaped without any serious injury.
Interestingly, as we were picking up the pieces of his bike in that corner we came across busted up fairings off several other bikes as well. Seems this corner has claimed many.
Here’s the spot to be wary of:
Just to the east of the 118 in the picture, a downhill righthand corner, just after you cross a bridge over the Ma Lae River and two curves before you reach the Mae Chedi Sub-District Checkpoint.
Can you see how shiny the road is, and what appears to be a wet spot in the middle of the lane?
This surface was so slippery that I could take a run at it and skate along for several feet. The wet bits were like ice! Nuts!
Another view from a little further up the hill:
Quick thinking on the part of Robert saw a rescue truck dispatched from Chiang Mai which would carry David and his busted up bike with us to Chiang Khong. He could still continue on the cruise to Luang Prabang and on the Pak Lay without a bike. The riding part in Laos was really optional
Interesting to note that those wet patches in my picture dried up while we were waiting. I’m guessing it was dew on top of oily pavement that made the road so darn slippery. Once the water evaporates the road is still slick, but not nearly as treacherous as when we rode through in the early morning.
I knew it would be an hour or two before the truck would reach us and it was getting hot as the sun climbed higher into the sky so I jumped on my bike to do a little exploring. Went down to the Mae Chedi Sub-District Checkpoint to see if they had any drinks for sale; they didn’t. Then headed back over the bridge and spotted a small dirt track that headed north into the mountains. What the heck- might as well check it out! It was a cool little track the followed the Ma Lae River and I was rewarded with a lovely little temple at the end:
Not a soul around, a really nice spot, but I needed to get back to the rest of the group before the pickup arrived. Back down the track, rejoined our merry band, and shortly thereafter the rescue truck arrived, we got the Versys loaded and tied down, a smile and a thumbs up from David, and we continued on our way to Chiang Khong!