Why We Need to Develop Mountain Biking Trails

The potential for MTB in Thailand is endless. Bangkok itself and the surrounding provinces like Nonthaburi, Suphanburi and Ayutthaya are ultra flat, but travel just a couple of hours in any direction and the mountainous terrain is amazing. Unfortunately for most Bangkokians don’t even know what all mountain or downhill mountain biking is all about and although I don’t want to knock XC MTBers the locals spend most of their biking time riding on flat boring dirt roads traveling as slow as possible and stopping now and again to point at and pick fruit from trees.

As well as these flat dirt roaders there are others that think mountain biking means riding a mountain bike on tarmac roads dressed in their best Sunday spandex with racing slicks on their 24,000 baht Mavic Crossmax, when it would be fair to say that that’s road biking and you can use a sports cycle with rigid forks for that.

Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand is the established Mecca of downhill mountain biking. With a handful of downhill and all mountain trails, great trails but still none of which are of a world-class standard. The hype for most mountain bikers who travel to Chiang Mai to have a go at the trails there is simply to say that they had a go at the sport in a country warm enough to call it jungle single track.

With tourism at a 49 years low in the kingdom it would be great to see the MTB Tour companies who operate in Chiang Mai and its surrounding areas investing more time developing tracks and promoting the sport more with XC and downhill races and maybe some even some 4x and slope style competitions.

The 2007 Asean Downhill competition was held near Lam Tha Khong Dam on the outskirts of Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Rachasima Province which gave mountain bikers in Central Thailand some hope that the sport had reached a new level and more trails would be built but after a visit to the site where the event was held just a few months after the trail had gone back to being an unused overgrown path and the locals had forgotten all about it.

There is some great potential for mountain biking trails in Central Thailand too but the locals and expats who live there don’t seem to get the time or feel the need to go out and build more trails just keep riding the same old trails at Khao I-to in Prachinburi and Tamp Pra Toon in Chonburi. Again, these are two great trails to get your teeth into but become boring for the people who ride them all the time and are quite difficult for those who are just getting into the sport with their awkward and steep uphill sections being very punishing in the hotter months.

What mountain bikers in Thailand would like to see is more purpose built trails developed in the area. Locations such as Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi and Khao Yai would be perfect locations for mountain bikers in the country to get together and develop some world-class trails with manageable uphill sections and great downhill sections to cater for all MTB disciplines.