Bangkok holds a secret place… known by very few…three kilometers (3.3 kms to be exact) of cross-country trail, purpose built by the Thai Army. Club 11 is open 7 days week and is the perfect place to escape to for an hour or so riding without having to travel too far. The trail is a good mix of technical riding and fast single track for you to hone your skills. It is made even more interesting by the sounds of gunfire and marching soldiers!
This little piece of mountain biking fun is located inside the 11th Infantry Army Base located on Thanon Phahonyothin. The entrance to the base is next to the Bang Bua canal bridge. The easiest way to get there is to take the BTS to Mo Chit. From there it is a 7 km ride North along Thanon Phahonyothin.
If you arrive to the gate riding your bicycle the armed soldiers will wave you through with a smile. If you choose to drive, you will have to stop at the checkpoint. Make sure you have a valid ID with you, as without it you may not be allowed to enter. Ride or drive down to the roundabout, go left, and follow the signs for paintball. The Club 11 building is located at the same site as the paintball field.
The trail itself is located behind the paintball assault course and the live firing range! The staff at the workshop will point you in the right direction.
You may be asked to pay 30 THB to use the trail (100 THB as of April 2014). This fee helps to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities, although some of these facilities are beginning to look a little tired already.
Unfortunately, due to the heavy tropical rains that Thailand enjoys so much at this time of the year the trail is generally quite muddy and wet, to the point that if you go there just after the rain it becomes quite difficult to ride. This condition is compounded by the fact that the ATV quad bikes also use parts of the trail for their rides, so it’s been a little churned up in parts.
Don’t let this put you off completely; as in the dry season the trail becomes a hard packed single-track delight.
Being fairly flat makes for a very fast ride, although some of the jumps may catch you out. If you’re not a very experienced rider I would recommend taking your first lap a little slow.
The trail is very well marked and the majority is covered by tree line so you may want to get some clear lenses for your sunglasses.
Be sure to keep a lookout for local wildlife that live in these parts.
If you ride a hard tail and want to try the course on a full suspension bike then club 11 have two medium Trek EX 5.5 bikes that they will happily hire to you for a modest fee of 30 baht (No longer available as of April 2014). These bikes, for some unknown reason, have only a back brake. But who needs brakes anyway?
Once you’ve had enough of the trail you can head back to the club building where there are toilets, showers and a little canteen where you can buy cold drinks and the ever so popular flavored instant noodle pots. There is even a hose pipe to wash your bike before heading back out on the road.
Whatever you ride. Wherever you ride it. Always ride hard.