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Dr. Frazier: Three Wheels to Terror Photo Gallery

Our adventurist disregards terror of snakes and drug lords while trading two wheels for three in this memorable sidecar adventure through Southeast Asia. Read more in the Dr. Frazier: Three Wheels to Terror feature.

Slideshow
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How the Yamaha V-Max motorcycle got into Thailand was a mystery, but the ownership papers indicated it was titled and registered between in 1990-1992.
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Because traffic drives on the left side of the road in Thailand, the sidecar was mounted on the left side of the motorcycle.
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Sauerborn was a crafty engineer, fabricating many of the parts needed from front to rear because they were not available for purchase in Thailand.
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The inside of the sidecar, or chair, was just large enough for my 6’ 2” frame, but left little room to move around.
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Our destination was the point where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand met, the Golden Triangle.
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Laughing, Sauerborn noted we were on the same road as was this pictured “Adventure” SUV, so must be on an adventure.
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Most motorcycles in Thailand were small, and the V-Max could easily leave them behind at stop lights but could not split lanes or easily move to the head of the line.
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Upon leaving Chiang Mai the traffic was light and road surface good.
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A helmet law applied, as we were reminded leaving Chiang Mai, but I wondered what good a helmet would do me if the sidecar flipped, rolled or came to a sudden stop.
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I had been at home on two wheels five times around the globe and for over 1,000,000 miles, but never as comfortable as these two seemed at a police box, a reminded to wear a helmet and not drink and drive.
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My riding position was with either my legs stretched out and locked forward or up like pictured here, protecting certain male anatomical parts.
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A requested gas stop sucked a lot of gas. I discovered that under the sidecar was a second tank holding 35 liters, giving us a range of well over 350 kilometers.
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Sauerborn took a shortcut around a closed section of pavement, a jungle track.
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No more jungle walking for me. Any snakes would have to get to me from outside the metal sidecar body.
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The roads got worse as we drove away from the main route. Off the pavement like pictured here was a clear reason why one should not drive a motorcycle or sidecar at night, there being a rock as big as a basketball in the middle of the road.
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The rule of the road was whoever got onto the bridge first was entitled to make the crossing. Sauerborn, like a German Grand Prix driver, beat the car on the opposite side to the boards.
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Sauerborn moved to the middle of the road not to avoid snakes slithering across but to find the smoothest sections.
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I’d had it. As Sauerborn tested the tires by powering through the curves I wondered about how old the tires were, and then started to scream as pictured here entering a curve he was going to power slide through.
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Seeing this sidecar with a wheel chair attached was either an omen or interesting. I tried to believe the latter.
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I convinced Sauerborn that a break was in order, that crossing over into the dark world of Myanmar (Burma) was safer (for me) than more riding.
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We found the motorcycle apparel shop but no “deals.” I tried to take as long as I could to tourist-shop but could not justify spending big dollars for what I could buy over the Internet for the same price just to prolong the terror of riding in the sidecar.
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There were plenty of knock-off DVDs and CDs, but I passed, not seeing anything I could not rent cheaper or download off the Internet.
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The test had proven there was air in the hydraulic clutch system, so a stop was made to bleed and top-off the clutch reservoir.
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Our test resulted in a bolt working loose on the front end attachment point, something I was glad I had not noticed while moving.
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I found Sauerborn working on the front end of the motorcycle before we were to go back out on the road. I wondered how bad it would have been had we not stopped.
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A boat similar to these on the Mekong River had been mysteriously attacked resulting in nearly 20 dead just days before we stopped here. The dangers associated with drugs reminded us we were away from the security of areas outside the Golden Triangle.
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I yelled, “Don’t stop!” I would rather be shot that taken captive into the jungles.
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Looking for drugs, illegal immigrants or possibly a fake stop, these road check points were areas of trepidation… and I was glad my driver did not stop.
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My driver, Joe Sauerborn, and the “Man View” overlook, after having taken me on an adventure ride, Three Wheels To Terror!