Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A night on the town and a ride on a big bike

Dateline: Chiang Mai

The other night four Homeroids, DC, Sean, me and Al, were sitting around having a beer at John's Upstairs Bar in Chiang Mai talking about motorcycles and motorcycling. Out of the blue DC offered to buy a round of shots. All attention was immediately riveted on our normally thrifty friend. Those of you that know and love DC also know that an offer like this coming from him is a rarity. Indeed, the last time DC bought "a round" it was grilled chicken more than a year ago at Chicken Smoke Corner in Udon.

DC told us he hadn't been in Chiang Mai in over 5 years and now here he was in Chiang Mai with 4 Homer buddies in a bar exchanging riding stories. This called for a special celebration, he said. I hadn't planned to stay out late — I wanted to play tennis in the morning — but being the type of person that never turns down a free drink, especially one from DC, I immediately accepted his offer. As did the other Homer bad boys. Happily.

At first we were all gonna get whatever we wanted — two Jim Beams for DC and Al, a scotch for me and a dark rum for Sean but after thinking about it a moment and planning ahead to the inevitable second round we wanted to minimize confusion — we would all get the same thing, that is, tequila. Oh, and of course we were drinking beers along with those shots. My namesake Chang for Sean and me, Leos for DC and Al.

The night progressed nicely. We talked motorcycles, girlfriends, Homer history, fishing, motorcycles again. We had a second round. DC and I decided to rent 650cc Kawasaki Versys motorcycles for a circuit of Chiang Mai Province. Sean and Al would rent Honda CBR 250s. We planned the ride for the day after next already fearful we might just be feeling a tad rocky in the morning.

We had a third and fourth round. John's Bar has an interesting, actually downright weird, thing they do in the men's toilets. They place big blocks if ice in each urinal as if to tempt you to make a hole in it, or cut it in half with your urine stream. By the time the fourth round was done and keeping in mind the tall beers we were having with each round, there resulted all manner of claims about damage done to these "icebergs", as you might imagine. Whatever the reality of those claims, the ice in the far urinal was gone after round four.

We had a fifth round and decided to quit while we were ahead, so to speak. We paid the bill. We got up to go home. As we headed for the down staircase we heard a commotion at our backs. DC was on the floor, ass over teapot. We hurried back to help him to his feet. As soon as we let go he went down again. We decided we'd better help him get home. I shot these photos with my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

DC is a happy drunk

We walked him to his hotel and then up the stairs to his room. We left him to get himself into bed and proceeded to have a couple of laughs over the evening's events as we walked up the soi to our own hotel. Next day was a slow day for all.

In the event DC decided to rent a CBR250, while Al and Sean totally reneged and rode their Phantoms. Only I went ahead with the plan to rent a Versys. It was a pricey rental at 1,800 baht ($60 USD) but I somehow managed to rationalize the expense. The Versys is a fantastic bike and if money were no object I'd surely have one. However, even with today's good exchange rate one would cost over $9,000 USD. It's a beautiful bike and very powerful. DC and I rode a big circuit around Chiang Mai and the power on tap in that beast was truly awesome. Sean and Al chose to do a different ride correctly figuring they'd only hold us up. I seldom run my Phantom at more than 80 kph (50 mph) but the Versys easily ran 110-130 kph and accelerated like a bullet when I rolled the throttle and got it up to about 160. It is a very similar bike to the V-Strom DL650 I had last spring but it seemed more powerful. Who knows though? It's hard to make a comparison after so much time has passed. And too, here I'm riding on slower roads with tighter curves. At any rate the Versys is quite a bike no matter how you slice it.

Here's a shot of DC with the CBR 250. DC is a good rider and feels right at home on the new Honda. He rides a CBR 150 now and it's only a question of time before he springs for the new ride.

DC is feeling better in this shot

DC takes a turn - Route 118 north of Chiang Mai
Nut and I rode over to Pai yesterday. It was another beautiful day and a lovely, if tame, ride on the little workhorse. More later...