Tour de Gulf of Thailand 2023 has now begun

Tour de Gulf of Thailand has now begun 2023. Photo: Sofie Rønnelund

The sky was overcast as the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Pattaya cycled off on its ‘Tour de Gulf of Thailand’ at 08am this morning from Chumpon. But the mood was calm and spirits high among the neon green Norwegian suits. Over the next nine days, 34 cyclists will travel a total of almost 700km on bike – from Chumpon to Pattaya.

The idea originated between organizer Hans Konrad Nyvoll and his cousin, who’s been fans of cycling longer distances themselves. In 2011, Hans decided that the tours should be shared with a larger group of people. That’s how the Tour de Gulf of Thailand was born and it has been held annually ever since, except for the years of the pandemic.

Yet this time, the tour is not hindered by a state of emergency – or a cloudy sky.

Cyclists in neon shirts getting their gear ready. Photo: Sofie Rønnelund

It looks like it’s gonna rain. How will you manage that?

“We just bike,” Hans says with a confident smile, and explains that some people might pull out some rain ponchos. But rain really isn’t their concern.

“We’ll be wet anyway,” he adds, referring to some sweaty days ahead.

A bumpy beginning

Off the cyclists went, towards the first stop in Bangsaphan, 82 km away. They were met by orange roads full of holes, bridge construction and minor re-directions. But that certainly didn’t stop them from going forward with speed – and with smiles.

Cyclists enjoying the trip, despite some rocky roads ahead. Photo: Sofie Rønnelund

Some partipants might have checked out the route physically beforehand, or have seen it on their way to Chumpon. So it probably wasn’t a surprise . Just like the rain pour which came over an hour later wasn’t.

But the trip isn’t a race. So the cyclist can go in whatever pace they prefer, and adjust to the road and weather as they wish.

The first one checks in

However, some cyclists were indeed fast, even despite the rain. Kjell Jvar Aase was the first cyclist to check in at Bangsaphan at around 11.30 am. Just 3,5 hours after the startoff.

Kjell Jvar was surprised that he came in as the first cyclist. Photo: Sofie Rønnelund

How do you feel?

“Rather good, really,” Kjell said calmly and explained the events of his ride.

He was surprised he was first, as he had to stop a couple of times on the road to eat and drink. Once he even had to break the rule of ‘nobody cycling alone’, as rain and shaky roads made Kjell’s phone fell off his bike. He had to leave his group to adjust. Naturally, he assumed he was then behind. But perhaps his GPS gave him a ‘better’ route from there, he suggested with a smile.

In total, the cyclist were off to a good start, being met by a new hotel by the coastline, where a view of the ocean might ease the adrenaline after 82 km of exercise. Tomorrow the journey goes on.

Chumpon is surrounded by mountains, so the cyclists have great views in front of them. Photo: Sofie Rønnelund
Here’s where they’ll go

The route started in Chumpon, southwest of Bangkok, where the participants met the night before the big day to gather strength for the morning’s start. From there, the tour runs over 8 stages with an average length of 86km per day. On the first 4 days, the cyclists will bike along the coast and beautiful beaches. Around halfway, after stage 4, participants will have a day to rest in Cha Am.

Then the cyclists will continue their journey around Samut Prakan, close to Bangkok, before celebrating their last overnight stay with a nice dinner. Lastly, the road goes into the sea on a bridge outside Chonburi. And from there, the goal – Pattaya – is near.

For a more specific route plan, check out the church’s own page.

The participants in Chumpon, minutes before the start. Photo: Sofie Rønnelund

About Sofie Rønnelund

Sofie Roennelund is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Sofie Rønnelund

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