Winter is now setting in here in Thailand's far north. Should a cyclist with a passion for gravel cycling, bike packing, and exploring tracks trails and unbeaten paths be moored up anywhere for winter, here is as good a place good as anywhere I know. With no tours to run in the coming months, there will be much local riding and documenting of said rides. The first offering of the season is this moving-picture of a 4-day three-night, 575-kilometre jaunt around the Golden Triangle region - mostly in glorious technicolour.
Back I was a lad, when the world was black & white, and we had to dodge dinosaurs on the way home from school, we used to find old bicycle frames, big wide handlebars, hopefully a Sturmy Archer three-speed, and if we were getting high tech, some brakes; we'd cobble 'em all together, and make - a scrambler.
These machines were named after the off-road racing motorcycles, which were little more than thumping four-stroke road bikes with high-level exhausts, raised mudguards, and slightly elongated suspension (if you were an ace). Just as motocross machines superseded these behemoths, so, the scrambler bicycle was soon outshone by the BMX, and the mountain bike. However, although the motocross machine and the mountain bike are undoubtedly better for winning races, jumping onto and off of improbable, and being generally rad and gnarly, it doesn't mean that there is no place these days for the humble scrambler. For those of us who don't wear a trucker cap backwards and talk with passion about "getting air dude", the scrambler offers an alternative, laid-back, super fun way to discover the unchartered territory of hills, valleys, jungles and plains.
More words and images about the build of this machine will come soon, but for now, by way of an introduction to PaintedRoads newest machine, Echo and I are rather pleased with our most recent video:
As has become our want following a China tour, Echo and I opted for a few days with our China tour partners Cath and Lee in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province.
A city of some six million people, Kunming has earned the rather apt moniker of The Eternal Spring City. Just a few degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer and perched in the hills at a lofty 1800 metres the weather in Kunming retains an agreeable climate mostly year round, that is, spring-like and splendid.
Providence, or good planning, has it that Cathy and Lee live on the western edge of the city beneath Xi Shan, the West Mountain, a veritable garden of Eden for the eager mountain biker, and, I dare to say, even more fun on a gravel bike.
Before reaching the multi-surfaced playground up above the city through a warm-up awaits in the form of a character building 400-meter ascent, a fine workout that leaves a chap either knackered, or ready and eager to for the byways, tracks, and trails that abound.
Our most recent visit followed the inaugural South China tour and was also the first proper shakedown ride for my newest bike, a Kinesis ATR VII, the successor to the brilliant and highly acclaimed Version 1 of the early pretender to the crown of gravel bike king. This new bike has already plodded around some trails in the UK, and has earned its wings as a tour-leading rig on the South China tour, but the variety of surfaces, climbs, descents, sealed country lanes, gravel trails, rocky climbs, single track, and rooted descents, all in the company of the young, lean, muscular, and somewhat fit Lee really put the machine (and it’s raging pilot) through its paces.
More of the bike and it's built shortly, for now though some photos from above Kunming.
Welcome to our new look! With some terrific new tours to showcase we felt it was time for a ground-up rebuild of our website... everything is new, and we hope you'll find the overall experience much better regardless of whether you're using a phone, tablet or desktop PC. Our online booking system is all new and we think you'll find it much easier to use. We are still working on some of the content but in the meantime please do take a look around, enjoy the new photo galleries on the tour page, and let us know what you think. We would welcome your feedback, good or bad, to help us improve further.
Over time we'll we populating this blog with stories from the road, news of tours, photographs and pretty much anything else we think might be of interest so do check back again soon, and/or catch up with us on social media.