A Day of Trail Building in Nong Yai

It had been a few weeks since we last visited Nong Yai, a hilly area 140km East of Bangkok in the province of Chonburi. With the rainy season upon us we agreed last time not to tackle some of the more remote trails as they were completely overgrown back in June, however now armed with machete’s we foolishly decided to head back and take on the 25km circuit again. For the latest trip we were joined by a couple of new mountain bikers more used to road cycling but we were keen to show off one of our favorite mountain biking trails which as of yet is barely known to anyone else.

Nong Yai Ridge

We started in a familiar area, which requires an arduous 1km climb more or less straight up to the top of a ridge, the views were fantastic so it was a nice way to start the ride and warm up the muscles. The first 10km of the trail are thankfully well defined as farmers living deep in the woods use them on their motorbikes and so we made good progress, stopping every so often for drinks and photo opportunities. The downhill from the top of the ridge is fast and smooth and is among the best sections of downhill in the area. The trail goes from the top of the ridge, into a wood and eventually into area surrounded by rubber trees. We continued along the trail past a farm house and eventually into an un-marked area of dense wood. This was our first opportunity to try out the machetes and we spend 30 minutes hacking a trail through the vegetation progressing at an impossibly slow rate. Feeling a bit disillusioned we turned back and headed down into the valley and onwards to the next part of the trail.

MTB in Nong Yai

Progress continued to be good as we made 6-7km and despite a few tough uphill sections spirits were high. The trails went from mainly single track to wide dirt tracks used by pickups as we descended from another hill into open farmland which eventually led onto the only road section of the trail. The road takes you around another hill and back onto a dirt trail which heads back into the hills. This is the part we were dreading as in May the grass was waist high and meant lots of pushing and carrying of our bikes just to get through it. This time however the grass was 6ft tall in places and would have been impossible without the machetes to cut our way through. With only 2 knives between 5 of us, we took it in turns to cut a trail along what in the dry season is a clearly marked trail and at some point looks to have been an official ‘road’ of sorts. It is incredible how fast vegetation grows in the rainy season but even knowing this we were all surprised at how dense it was.

Cycling in Nong Yai

We cut a section of trail about 1km in length which took more than 2 hours as a result water was running low as was our energy. At one point we even considered turning back but with some perseverance we finished cutting through the grass and we emerged at the highest point of the ride and finally were able to do some decent riding again down the mountain and straight for the nearest local shop to stock up on drinks. Our new cycling buddies thought we had finished but we had one last surprise for them – a steep hike up yet another hill which gave us one last fun downhill section before a winding trail leading onto the road near the starting point. In total the trail was 25km and took more than 7 hours thanks to our exploits trying to carve a trail out of the vegetation, perhaps a trip in the dry season is recommended next time – or taking a lawnmower!

Nong Yai