Text by Henrik Friis
Sunday, 5th December Ride 70K Around Sakhon Nakhon Water Reservoir
The 2010 Viking ride started officially on 5th December at 6.30 hrs when the 5 Vikings, Bent Laasholt, Mads Tranum, Claus Birk, Claus Bergenfelt and Henrik Friis aka. The flying President met in Bangkok Airport to board the 7.25 Air Asia to Udon. The Vikings were well greeted onboard Air Asia who had arranged a front seat for the President who kindly declined and moved back to seat 1E and made room for the pilot as the President’s flying skills are only suited when flying closer to the ground on a bike, and have always ended in crash landings. The flight took off on time and the President enjoyed the full hour’s flight having the chance to be in front of the team from start to the end of the first leg, although the 475 km flight was not part of the official ride. At arrival in Udon the team was greeted by the Vikings’ own Pilot Montri who had been flying in from Sakon Nakhon in Dantherm Air’s own Toyota Alphard Jetstream 2400 with 7 seats. Montri swiftly loaded the luggage and Vikings and took off towards Sakon Nakorn app. 160 km east of Udon.
The Jetstream 2400 arrived at 10.30 hrs in Sakon Nakhon airport and was greeted by the Tour Leader Morten Luxhoi, ex. President Hans Henrik Melchior, Jesper Madsen from Denmark and the 2 drivers Sumruen and Vichien, who had been up early and prepared the bikes and cars for the first day’s ride of app. 70 km around the water reservoir North East of Sakon Nakhon.
The Ex. President was pumped up and ready, but the President wanted to show off his new compressed air powered horn, but as the demonstration of the horn took some time Hans Henrik seemed to lose patience and started to warm-up by circling the parking lot. The warm-up seemed to help as he shot off in front of the whole group when the horn was finally blown and took the lead for a good part of the first 18 km before the group met up again at the first pit stop for Lunch where the drivers had prepared at True Viking Meal consisting of Pad Kha Phow with Khai Dao.
With full stomachs the Vikings continued down the beautiful roads and quiet country roads around the reservoir in a pleasant cruising speed until Jesper suddenly had an outburst of energy and jolted the bike to the left and speeded off. Everyone thought a race was on until they realized that he was just trying to get away from a local snake that decided to cross the road. The group soon found its normal speed with the President in the back of the group trying to keep an eye on everyone, but within short time the 2 Claus’s took off and picked up so much speed that they missed a turn and arrived last at the 2nd pit stop.
The team continued from 2nd to 3rd pit stop without any major hazels and, although the road was a little bumpy, everyone enjoyed the nice scenery and tempered bicycle weather. The bumps had taken the energy out of Bent when he reached the 3rd pit stop, but after a quick refreshment and a promise by Morten that Heineken would be ready at the hotel, he decided to climb on the bike and complete the ride.
From the last pit stop the road was almost smooth all the way back to the MJ Majestic in Sakon Nakorn, it was so smooth that the 2 times Claus almost fell asleep and the President somehow managed to get in front, but not for long and they soon left him behind in a big cloud of dust. After arrival at the M.J. Majestic Hotel there was time for a few cold green carbohydrates specially arranged for the Vikings as it was the King’s Birthday. After shower and beer the team ventured out to find a restaurant for dinner, and they finally managed to find one but due to the King’s Birthday no alcohol was served and it was therefore the first dinner in Viking Wheelers history without beer, and with very slow serving. But the food was excellent.
Monday, 6th December Ride 95 km to That Phanom
Having participated in the survey Hans Henrik knew what Morten had planned for the unsuspecting Vikings for this day, so he and Bent decided to remain on the paved roads (same distance though), while the rest of the team followed Morten on a cruel, but very scenic route, appreciating that their behinds had already been hardened the day before. This route took them through villages, rice fields and other plantations with lots of cheers and greetings from the local population. Jesper riding slightly in front of the President charmed one of the local cows, so the cow jumped up from the field and headed directly towards him, but he was saved in the last second by the President’s compressed air horn, which basically blew the cow away, or at least it looked like it.
Totally exhausted from the long and bumpy roads the hard core team caught up with Bent and Hans Henrik at lunch in a small village. Here Morten decided to brush the teeth (of his bicycle) and at the same time wash the wall of the house at which he had parked his bike. He decided that it was the “dirty teeth”, which were the cause of his trouble during the preceding ride where he had taken the President’s position in the back. Also during the last part of the day’s ride there were some “bad” roads, but it was mostly the strong headwind on the last part of the route before turning south along the river, which caused the Vikings trouble. The ride was so hard that Morten insisted that driver Vichien was too tired from driving the car so he added an extra pit stop app. 5 km before what was supposed to be the last pit stop. The President joined in to secure that both Morten and Vichien were well taken care of. The total team joined again at the last pit stop. The President recuperated and got good wind in his back, got in front of the 2 Claus’s and as he passed he made a comment about how they could sleep on a bike. This was not well received and within seconds they both shot off like rockets and were not seen again until everyone was back at the hotel. The remaining exhausted Wheelers arrived at about 3 p.m. at the That Phanom Place hotel, and immediately proceeded to re-fill their tanks with nice, cold green carbohydrates. In the evening the Norwegian Viking, Oscar Joergensen (from Baan Sabaija in Pattaya, now located in That Phanom) invited for dinner at an excellent restaurant by the river. Later the team proceeded to a local watering hole where the Vikings again met up with a motorcycle gang, also staying in That Phanom Place. Morten had also arranged that the most popular night club in That Phanom was located on the street right across the hotel.
Tuesday, 7th December Ride 50K to Mukdahan
The team started the day with a visit to the fantastic local temple in That Phanom, Oscar was the local guide and he also took the team to pay a visit to Oscar’s Baan Sabaijai and for them to give him some professional advice for his ongoing construction project to expand this facility. When finished the facility will be able to house and care for 5 to 7 handicapped people. Having completed the early morning program the Viking Wheelers proceeded through town, briefly stopped by a 1 km long colorful bridal procession. This ride to Mukdahan turned out to be a very easy one, mostly on good roads and with a strong tail-wind, facilitating speeds sometimes at 35+ km/h. After the first windy pit-stop at a very scenic place by the river, Morten had placed a steep hill, but he had not made it long enough to really trouble the Vikings. Before arriving at Mukdahan the team gathered to have a group photo under the Friendship Bridge 2, and from there it was again straight to Mukdahan. The Vikings arrived in good form at Ploy Hotel in time for lunch, afternoon massages and Balut games. During dinner, at a fantastic restaurant by the river, Mads, Morten and Claus entertained the team with interesting stories from their times in the Middle East, Korea, the Philippines and many other places, mostly about the escapades of “un-named” colleagues. It is believed that the stories were slightly modified for entertainment purposes because an (un-named) Viking had forgotten a guitar, preventing the Viking Whistlers from entertaining this year.
Wednesday, 8th December – Day of Rest
The teamed joined up late in the morning except Hans Henrik who decided to return to Bangkok, claiming that he had a wedding to attend, but most likely because he knew what Morten had in store for the team for the rest of the Tour. Most of the team used the day of rest for an excursion across the river to Savanaketh in Laos, where they enjoyed a fabulous lunch, washed down with the Local Lao Beer at the river with view of Mukdahan . The team joined up again in the evening for a short dinner before resting for the next day’s ride.
Thursday, 9th December 100 km to Amnat Charoen
The team was blocked slightly by a big Thai tour group leaving the hotel; Mads and Henrik found the elevators blocked by people and decided to start the warm-up by using the fire escape from 4th floor down to breakfast, but they soon found out that it was going to be a real warm-up as the escape door at first floor was blocked and they had to return to the 3rd floor to take the elevator down.
At exactly 8.00 hrs the team started out from the hotel following the highways south along the river, and with a lot of fresh energy the Vikings managed the rolling hills without sweat and arrived quickly at the first pit stop. From the first pit stop the team cut across a smaller road towards the 2nd pit stop, and the road was again rolling hills on very nice asphalt only interrupted by a small distance on gravel road and some road works which left a very small bicycle lane in a tire track, Morten headed straight into it, and Bent close by, followed by Henrik who lost control of his bike due to laughing as Bent delivered one of his funny comments. No major harm to Henrik and they caught up with the others at the 2nd Pit stop, which was also the official half way point of the tour in terms of distance. The team continued and took pit stop 3 very fast and continued to lunch at Pit Stop 4 conveniently located at 70K. The remaining 30K were on the highway and speed was excellent, especially for Claus Bergenfelt who skipped Pit Stop 5 and went straight to the hotel. The remaining team caught up with him at 14.30 hrs at the Emerald hotel in Amnat Charoen and the usual cold green carbohydrates were consumed before shower and evening dinner.
Friday, 10th December 80km Around Amnat Charoen
Well rested from an early night the day before all Vikings were ready and fresh for takeoff at. 8.00 hrs. The group started slowly from the hotel, with many complaining about a certain part of the body being slightly sore from yesterday’s ride. Henrik started to fall behind after 6K claiming he had problems with the back, although his hidden agenda was to let Vichien get a chance to ride as he had not had the chance the day before, as Hans Henrik had returned to Bangkok. Henrik took over the lead car (another reason to leave the bicycle) and Claus Bergenfelt decided to play catch the mouse so all the riders soon picked up speed and basically flew at low level over the bumpy roads through all the small villages so the local supporters almost missed the chance to wave at them. Everyone kept on track except a few Vikings, who made a short cut over the road divider to the last Pit Stop. Inspired by the speed, and maybe by looking at Bent’s rear for the last 60K, Montri decided to change seat with Vichien on the bike. Bent apparently got slightly offended about the comments about his rear, and announced he would take the short cut along the main road back and ensure that the cool green carbohydrates were ready for lunch. The remaining Vikings with the President in front continued on the planned route and they quickly found out that Bent had some secret tips from Hans Henrik as the road soon became very bumpy, Montri lost the enthusiasm after 10K and changed back to a softer seat in the Alphard. Due to the dusty road, the President and lead car had to stay in the back and it is still unclear what happened but the whole group lost track until the President was back in front and led them safely back to the Lunch place in Amnat Charoen, where Bent was ready with the Green Carbohydrates. The lunch was excellent and especially Morten looked extremely happy, the Vikings believed it was the T-Bone steak that did the job, but he quietly revealed that his girlfriend K. Dai would soon arrive at the hotel and he was sure she would help him to get early to bed so he would be ready for next day’s ride.
Saturday 11th December 103 km to Ubon Ratchathani (Final destination)
Surprisingly everyone was fresh in the morning, especially the President whose eyes where extremely wide open, but it was not because of a happy sleep, but because Morten had given him some cream for his back pain, and although he claimed that he washed hands before going to toilet somehow some of the cream had transferred to some of the lower parts of the body, making him extremely awake.
Everyone mounted their bikes at exactly 8.00 hrs again and headed for Ubon. After 5K the President got a severe back pain again and changed seats with Vichien, however, the other Vikings didn’t seem to believe the story about the back, they believed it was an excuse to spend time with K. Dai in the car. Claus Bergenfelt was the most senior and reliable Viking around and he volunteered to keep an eye on the car and passengers on the whole trip, so the car was sent up front, and even if Henrik tried to speed away Claus always managed to catch up.
Most of the ride was on flat roads and speed was fast. One of the local ladies apparently got a thing for Mads and tried to catch him, but the speed surprised her so much that when she cut in front of him she couldn’t brake and landed with motorbike and all in a big ditch. Nobody was hurt but rumors have it that her eyes are still rolling around in the head after the encounter with the handsome Viking. The Vikings are always popular at the pit stops, and one of the local village headmen offered to take the group on an extra sightseeing tour to see Monkeys, but the local Viking guide Bent cut him short and said that he had seen enough Monkeys on this trip all in red shirts and on bicycles. They guy got a little upset and punched out at Bent’s stomach, but he quickly blew up the airbag as a defense and the guy quickly disappeared holding his apparently dislocated wrist.
The group reached the lunch stop in very good time, but the restaurant was a little understaffed and K. Montri quickly volunteered as a guest cook to ensure that the Khao Pat was made according to Viking standards. Morten was a little flat at lunch and very soon his tire followed him. It is not known whether it was one of the village kids who sabotaged the bike or actually Morten did it himself, but Vichien quickly got it fixed. Mads and Bent found the waiting time boring and suddenly came in Hula Hoop mood and tried out the kids’ Hula Hoop rings, not a great success and it was agreed it was better that they stayed with bicycles for sport as the rings are placed under them and not around them. Arriving at the last pit stop Morten was flat again, and he covered most of the floor in the shop during the pit stop, however, as a stubborn Viking he wanted to complete so he rigged a wooden stick to a Heineken beer which K. Dai should hold out to him through the car window. Morten never got a chance, as the President saw an opportunity to disappear and speeded off in the car with K. Dai and the beer stick hanging out of the window. The fun was short though, as Claus Bergenfelt soon caught up with beer and car and despite all the attempts to get away, he was hanging in there all the way.
The group joined up 8K before Ubon. Montri had forgotten all about yesterday’s pains and switched with Vichien again, this time he was faster and lead the group all the way to the Lai Thong Hotel. The arrival at Lai Thong was celebrated with Cool Green Carbohydrates handed out by the President. The hotel also served green carbohydrates, but had not realized that Vikings are on a special Malt diet which doesn’t include fresh fruit beverages just after a long ride.
The remaining afternoon was spent sharing memories, pictures and other stories about un-named colleagues before dinner at a small Italian restaurant in the Neighborhood of the hotel. Bent and Morten led the Vikings into the final Pit stop on the tour, which happened to be the Bar on corner of the hotel, which had all kinds of facilities suitable for Vikings such as lounge chairs for sleeping, Pool tables and even a table for Mads and Henrik to continue their long standing Viking Wheeler Balut Championship, ending in a draw for the day, but with Henrik in the lead by one game for the overall trip. What time the last Vikings went to bed has not been leaked yet . But Mads, who was supposed to go back to Khao Yai by car, was seen Sunday morning in the airport buying a ticket with Air Asia so he could challenge Henrik to another game of Balut before flying back to Bangkok.
The Vikings have started planning next year’s crusade. The dates will again be between 4-12 December and starting point will most likely be Ubon Ratchathani, so if you want to know more please join the facebook group for further news and other great Viking trips in 2011.
Enjoy photos of this trip below.
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