SpiceRoads is well represented at the Tour of Friendship 5-stage road bike race with two teams in competition. The first stage was a 7 km time trial and the heat was on with temps at 38C. The start is a bit intimidating for first timers as you are clipped in on your bike with somebody holding you up until it’s time to go. Then it’s just you against the clock. The overall winner rode 7-km in 9:02 and the GOTP-SpiceRoads team did very well placing 3rd and 4th in the 40s men category with times of 9:25 and Hamish Keith, founder of SpiceRoads, garnering a 9:34. Patricia Weismantelel, Product Manager,Damian Mulligangan, Northern Thailand Regional Manager, Guides Aum and Ant, John Doyle who flew in from Dubai to compete as well as longtime SpiceRoader Brian Merfield from the UK all had respectable times.Stage 2 won’t be so easy, 146 km!
Stage 2 was a 146 km relatively flat ride with a short hill at the end. Some very fast speeds in the pelotons, with the open men going up to 60 km/h! The groups stayed together with breakaways waiting for the hill and then it was full on to the finish! Stage 3 is intense with two different distances depending on your age group, with open, 30s and 40s going 170 km and women and masters 115 km. Lots of hills in store!
New strategies were in play for Stage 3 of the Tour of Friendship. A hill just 4 km after the start proved to be a separator, breaking up the pelotons quickly as most of the age groupers started fast hoping to do just this. The course was 170 km for the open, 30s and 40s men and 115 km for women and masters, with lots of climbing! When we had time to look around, was beautiful, with flowering trees of yellow and red lining the course and nice views out over the valleys. Very proud of guides Aum and Ant for finishing their epic distance and 2000 m of ascents! Brian Merfield and Patricia Weismantel also finished with respectable times. John Doyle felt the heat and smartly called it quits after 120 km. The GOTP-SpiceRoads team also did well with all members finishing. Hamish Keith did his team proud with a 2nd place finish in the 40s men. He held onto an intense sprint 3 kms from the finish line to earn his spot on the podium. He is also 2nd in the overall standings! Stage 4 offers no reprieve with another tough route awaiting us!
Stage 4 of the Tour of Friendship proved to be another hot and hilly day. A slow start by all the categories meant no early breakaways, even though there was the King of the Mountain title at stake at 55 km. But with distances of 164 km and 109 km ahead, the pelotons decided on an easy start. Team SpiceRoads was down two members due toa crash and the heat, but guides Aum and Ant both went the distance! Brian Merfield and Patricia also both finished and are ready for the the final stage of 84 km! Team GOTP-SpiceRoads also did excellent with all team members crossing the finish line and Hamish Keith again placing himself on the podium with a 5th place for the stage! He is moving up in the overall rankings and tomorrow will see if he places 1st or 2nd! Here’s Aum climbing up the hill that he had to do 3 times today!
Stage 5 of the Tour of Friendship was thankfully a shorter distance of 84 km, but the hills were still there to be climbed (1200 m!)! Two laps of the hills and then a 5 km descent to the finish led to some exciting sprint finishes to the Tour of Friendship. All the SpiceRoaders are just proud to have finished all stages of the race, which was quite an accomplishment in itself! In the overall rankings Hamish Keithproved to be quite a force to contend with as he finished under 5 seconds behind the winner. After more than 16 hours of racing 547 km it came down to just 5 seconds! Overall a great experience racing and pushing yourself to the limit, both physically and mentally!
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