Those other bikers heading to Phuket

Those other bikers
heading to Phuket
By Marc Mulloy
WITH Big Bike Week just around
the corner it is good to remember
that Phuket also attracts the pedalpowered
variety of biker thanks
to Siam Bike Tours run by avid
cyclist Martin Brot.
Martin is a sprightly 54 year old
with a healthy tan, deep smile lines
at the corners of his eyes and well
developed calf muscles. He speaks
English well albeit with a strong
Swiss accent and it soon becomes
apparent why Martin looks so
healthy and happy. Not only is he
the happy owner of the successful
Siam Bike Tours, he also personally
leads each tour such as the
recent one from Bangkok to Phuket.
“I join and lead all of our tours.
I’ve been cycling and racing since
I was a boy in Switzerland. I’ve
been coming to Thailand for over
30 years and moved here nine years
ago. I first lived in Koh Samui
where we focused on mountain
biking and for the last six years we
have been in Phuket where we are
more involved with road bikes. It
is my passion” says Martin.
Guided by Martin and his
team, tours are arranged into
groups of 4 to 16 participants
and are designed for any enthusiastic
cyclist in reasonable
shape. A Siam Bike Tours minibus
follows up behind
transporting all of the luggage;
spare parts; wheels and tools as
well as water; soft drinks and
fresh fruit. If necessary any
rider may also complete the
day’s stage by bus if they are
feeling tired or unwell.
Martin determines the riding
speed on any stage with faster riders
going ahead together, regrouping
at selected refreshment stops every
30 or 40 kilometers.
“It is not just about the cycling,
we see and experience many things
along the way. We stop at noodle
shops, temples, waterfalls or just
stop to share some fruit. We spend
each night in excellent, clean hotels
most of which have a
swimming pool, Thai massage and
spa or wellness facilities. Even
though we are cycling hard we also
have a few beers and a few laughs
each night, we become like a big
family,” says a smiling Martin.
The 10-day, nine-night
Bangkok to Phuket tour follows
both the East and West coastlines
covering a total of 833 kilometers
in eight stages which vary between
72km to 140km each.
For many in Phuket the idea of
riding a bicycle in Thailand, yet alone
covering such a distance, seems a
dangerous prospect.
“Not at all” says Martin “ Many
of our riders say that Thailand is
even safer than Europe and we
drive mostly along empty roads.
Motorists here respect bicycles and
give us a wide berth especially the
lorries. Indeed we often ride two
abreast for most of the day. However
it is true that once we get to
Phuket the traffic is different and
we are squeezed into single file.”
Having recently completed another
successful Bangkok-Phuket
run (he does seven every year) the
ever energetic Martin now looks
forward to his upcoming “Issan
Tour” in the east of Thailand. Siam
Bike Tours also offer what they call
the ‘Transalp challenge of Thailand’
which starts in Chiang Mai and
takes in Mae Hong Son and Doi
Inthanon a 13,435 meter ascent.
“This is a more challenging ride,
but for many of our repeat riders it
is not a problem as many come
from places in Europe where we
have big mountains.” says Martin.
When asked if the company has
expansion plans he laughs and says
“Now it is just right – a boutique
business. We already have over a
dozen scheduled tours a year as
well as customized tours and our
shop to run, so I do not want to
get bigger than this.”
It is always refreshing to find
a man so happy in his work
where the only obstacles ahead
for Martin seem to be those
mountains in the North.
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