Bike for Dad was a major event held by Thais worldwide as part of the festivities for the king’s 88th birthday. Over 600,000 Thais formally registered to take part after a similar event not surprisingly called Bike for Mum on the queen’s birthday earlier this year. Having missed mum’s bike ride, which was at a much hotter time of the year, I thought that we’d saddle up for dad. Held on 11 December it was almost a week after his actual birthday on the 5th. We ended up being some of the people who didn’t register because the process to do so fell outside mine and Gaun’s ability to negotiate Thai bureaucracy. Wherever the registration point was it definitely wasn’t at the local Amphur office in Si Bun Ruang (tried there) as this was being organised at the provincial level being Nong Bua Lamphu. Had we done it earlier and found where we might have got a free t shirt!
We borrowed my brother-in-law’s pickup, loaded our high tech mountain bikes (bought for A$160.00!), dressed in our specially bought Bike for Dad gear and headed to the starting point at the big provincial government centre on highway 210 ready for a 2.00 pm start.
There was a great turnout, which must have numbered several thousand, helped by the fact it was a perfect day, sunny, no wind and about 30 degrees.
Me, Gaun and the king in his younger days.
Food and drink stalls everywhere. Who would have thought.
We signed up for free insurance. If Thai bike riding was anything like their driving maybe a good idea.
A free bike check-up service was on hand for young……
….and the not so young.
A massage to get you ready for the grueling mountain climb section (actually dead flat!)
There was a formal part to opening the ride involving big wigs of some description but we were on standby on the starting grid so missed out on most of it. I did get some shots of the lovely Thai dancers going through a routine.
Gaun ready to go. My Dog, a small handbag, was joining us for a day’s outing.
Everyone waiting for the gun.
A couple of less conventional entrants.
Sensibly Thai Watsadu hardware didn’t cycle the course like that.
This was a real family event with all ages represented.
Some self powered and others less so and not looking too happy about it either.
This is the VIP group passing through the crowd to get a head start.
Spot the Aussie.
And we’re off.
We had our own road thank goodness. This is highway 210 as it passes through Nong Bua Lamphu town, the provincial capital.
A superior view.
This dad was keeping her on track by holding onto her pigtail! I suspect they didn’t do the entire course like that.
More pedal power + one.
Roads closed off. I felt quite important.
A mini-entrant. Making the effort for Dad.
This little guy made it all the way round, which was a 15 km + course.
Waiting for the main traffic lights on the 210 into Nong Bua to be opened up for the “peloton” 🙂 Photographers on the overpass recording the event.
Wannabes on the side taking photos as we elite athletes rode by.
A formal stop was made at a refurbished temple building to honour the previous king in the main park of Nong Bua next to the lake briefly covered HERE.
More dancing for the VIP group.
Back on the road heading towards but not up (phew) the local hills that sit between Nong Bua and Udon Thani.
These red leafed plants are called “Christmas” flowers here – literally. A colourful display. 25 THB or A$1.00 each.
A more static version at the back of the pond in our garden to provide extra colour.
This is the ring road around the centre of Nong Bua. Turn left at the first set of trffic lights into Nong Bua from Udon Thani direction.
Cold water was thoughtfully provided regularly either by official stops or by locals who just set up on the side of the road like this one.
Orange juice here. Very welcome too.
I had pulled over to get that orange juice and this little bloke passed me! We’re about 10 km into it by now.
Passing my favourite store – Global House a big nationwide hardware shop. They have 700,000 THB of our money as a result of building the house, which you can read about HERE.
The fact that the main group is heading back as I’m still on the outward leg isn’t a good sign for the Aussies.
A depressing visual image of how many people were ahead of me. I thought it was a kindly tactical move to let some of the locals win.
A fun afternoon out, well organised and a great way to join a bunch of Thais doing something that is important for them – celebrating their much respected king. I was one of two expats taking part but I never feel like an outsider because the Thais love us joining in and having a good time. I don’t know if this is going to be an annual event but if it is brush the cobwebs off the bike and give it a go. Next year I’m going into heavy training and show that five year old boy just who’s king of the peloton.
Thanks for reading.