Viking Wheelers Off to a Good Start – Now in Chumpon

By Hans Henrik Melchior

On Friday 4 December a team of 13 Viking Wheelers commenced their annual marathon cycling tour, this year a distance of about 425 km from Prachuab Khiri Khan to Surat Thani.  The team consists of President Henrik Friis, Bent Laasholdt, Morten Luxhoi, Mads Tranum Nielsen, Claus Bergenfelt, Jan Peter Jensen, Finn Soerensen, Matthew Pearson, Kenn Lauritsen and Hans Henrik Melchior.  Flying in from Denmark to join this event were Jesper Madsen, a friend of Morten and Mads, who joined this annual event for the third time, and Poul-Erik and Kirsten Ring, good friends of Henrik Friis.
After an about 4 hours drive from Bangkok the team arrived in Prachuab Khiri Khan where it enjoyed a lunch at a restaurant at the beach just south of the city.  During the lunch a lone British cyclist passed the restaurant and stopped to find out who the guys in red and white were.  When he asked, the Vikings proudly told him that they were just about to start a tour going all the way down to Surat Thani.  He then announced that he had left Chiang Mai a week earlier and was on his way to Kuala Lumpur.  Although clearly not impressed by the plans of the Vikings, he did cheer the team from the balcony of his hotel when they passed about half an hour later!
The Friday ride was a “warm up” ride of about 33 km to the cosy Jack’s Beach Resort north of Thap Sakae.  At the beginning of the ride the team’s flying President, Henrik Friis, assumed the temporary role of air traffic controller, stopping all incoming and outgoing flights in the local international airport, so the Vikings could safely cross the runway.  Apart from a short stint on HW 4 the rest of the ride was on small country roads, along the beach and through plantations, soybean fields, cattle farms and small villages down to the resort, which is located right at the beach.
Before the start of the Saturday ride, the local Village Headman arrived at the resort and, duly impressed by the handsome Vikings in their red and white jerseys, he invited the team to participate in a ceremony at the pier, just about to commence, releasing into the ocean about a million shrimps, on the occasion of H.M. the King’s birthday, and the Vikings happily complied.  One of the Vikings was, however, so unlucky to drop his plastic bag with about 1,000 shrimps, which obviously did not make it back to the ocean.  Nobody, except maybe for the shrimps, seemed to care about this mishap.
The day’s ride was about 75 km to Baan Maprao Resort in Bang Saphan Noi, also along the beach and on small country roads, mostly pancake flat, except for a long hill a few kilometres before the end of the ride, which the organizers claimed was not there when they made the survey trip.  During the ride Mads attempted to chase some stray dogs, which, unfortunately, were not scared by Mads in his frightening outfit with horns sticking out of his helmet, and instead started chasing Mads, who did get scared and in his efforts to evade the pack rode over a sharp edge and got a flat tyre.
      Anyway, the team was in high spirits when it arrived at Baan Maprao Resort, located on a fantastic beach. This was the second time the team visited this resort, as the riders also stayed here when they were on the Tour de Thailand in 2004.  Before and after the dinner Mads and his guitar entertained the group by singing popular Danish “viser” by i.e. Shubidua, Kim Larsen, Lasse and Mathilde, something he was much better at than chasing dogs.
At 8 am sharp Sunday morning the brave Vikings commenced what would be the toughest ride so far during this year’s marathon, a ride of about 94 km to Chumporn.  Although also this ride was on scenic country roads, there were plenty of rolling hills, some of them very challenging, but the Viking Wheelers had by now built up lots of strength, so all passed the test and were very happy and proud when they arrived in Chumporn in the mid-afternoon, looking forward to their evening dinner in the local KFC.  Hans Henrik knew that Khun Vichien, the driver of the support van, is a keen cyclist longing to get in the saddle.   So, after lunch HH gracefully offered to drive the van for the last 30 km and Vichien was very happy to get this opportunity to cycle this leg.  Bent, feeling sorry that HH should be alone in the van, volunteered to keep him company, an offer which was accepted without hesitation.
Monday is a day of rest for the team, but on Tuesday they are off again, this time on an 88 km ride to Pak Nam (near Lang Suan).  Wednesday’s ride will be 84 km to Chaiya followed by a short 48 km ride on Thursday to Surat Thani, from where the team will fly back to Bangkok.

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