This year’s edition of Thailand Tour of Hope began from the north-east of Thailand in a town called Udon Thani. The opportunity to cycle along the Mekong and see the city of Vientiane, Laos from across the river was too great a temptation to resist. However, to get to Changmai we had to move inland and traverse some difficult mountain passes.
This year was by far the longest and the hardest of Tours. The distance was over 800km in seven days and over some of the most mountainous regions in Thailand. On certain days we had to climb over 1500m in elevation at 18-degree gradients to reach our destinations.
We went from severe heat wave of 38° Celsius to non-stop rain on certain days, which made descending the mountains extremely difficult. This took its toll on the participants and, for the first time ever, we had a record number of crashes with three participants having to leave to seek medical treatment in their home countries.
This year’s library initiative was held at a village in Mae Teang, some 80km north of Changmai. It is a school nestled in the hills where the students are children of the hill tribes. As always, accessibility to the school is problematic. The foundation donated 50 bicycles. We also had the opportunity to visit our first library initiative, a school in Mae Rin about 50km north of Changmai. Here we also donated additional bicycles, as the ones donated in 2011 had fallen apart.
One plus point of this year’s tour was that the organisers arranged for us to have our lunch at schools along the way. What a great relief it was having a hot meal instead of eating out of styrofoam boxes at shacks along the road sides. This gave us the opportunity to help out another school with a USD500 donation to replenish its library.
What touched me the most about this year’s tour is seeing the first library built in 2011 being well maintained and utilised. Our donations have certainly gone a long way in making that difference.
Having spent eight days with 40 cyclists from different parts of the world, whom I have ridden four tours with, reinforces my commitment to continue with the tour in November next year.
If you want to read more about the tour and how you can be part of it in 2015, please go to http://ttoh2013.wix.com/ttoh2014.
The Tour of Hope (TTOH) is an international non-profit initiative of cycling enthusiasts who come from all walks of life. They aim to convert their passion for cycling into support for the less privileged. Since 2006, they have held yearly bicycle tours in which riders raise funds for charitable causes that improve health and education.
In 2014, as in the previous years, TTOH worked together with World Vision of Thailand to build a library, along with books and computers, north of Chiang Mai so that more than 200 school children and 900 adults will have access to better knowledge. TTOH will also donate bicycles to needy children so that they can cycle to school.