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Blazing Saddles: Bicycling breakfast

Bicycling and breakfast go irrevocably together… they are made for each other in a mutually-enhancing way. My own perfect Phuket morning starts with firstly earning that health-giving breakfast with an invigorating bike ride. My criteria for a pre-breakfast ride includes deep breaths of pure clean air, huge gulps of reviving water and fabulous ocean and mountain views, all of which help produce a natural hunger for a nourishing, protein-laced breakfast to restore body and brain.

By Baz Daniel

Sunday 22 March 2020, 11:00AM

Where in today’s Phuket can we ride then have breakfast in a life-enhancing natural environment, far away from the traffic, pollution, danger and stress that challenges cyclists in so much of the island?

For my money, there’s no better place than the deep south of the island, starting from the lovely oceanside vistas of the Rawai beach road and ending up at the gorgeous beachside restaurant named Rock Salt overlooking the fabulous broad sandy beach at the Nai Harn Resort. Here the cuisine is healthy and beautifully-prepared by Executive Chef Mark Jones and his team with the utmost dedication and attention to detail.

But first to earn that delicious, replenishing breakfast!

Aged 71, I now consider myself a fairly senior recreational cyclist and increasingly I find my body and mind are best served by a mixed cross-training morning regimen, rather than a hard-core, lung-busting bike ride per se. I like to start with a bike ride, then build in a walk, and finish off with a swim and some stretches and there’s ample scientific evidence that this mixture of different types of outdoor exercise is the optimum way to keep mind and body healthy and happy, while keeping the rampaging dogs of ageing at bay!

My own cross-training ride starts on the Rawai waterfront road as the dawn starts to paint the morning sky, followed by the fairly intense lung-busting hills up the Promthep headland, thankfully void of pollution-belching tour buses in these virally challenged days! At the top, you can walk up to the Lighthouse Memorial and take in magnificent views over the Andaman at the southern tip of the island as long-tailed boats plough white frothing furrows past Koh Kaeo Yai Island with its little Buddhist monastery.

Take the 30-minute walk along the track to the tip of the headland and back, then jump back on your bike and cycle carefully down Promthep to Yai Nui Beach for a jog and sea swim. Finally, climb the last big hill up and past the glorious Windmill Viewpoint and down on to Nai Harn Beach itself.

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At the northern end of this beach you’ll spy the beautiful clean white lines of the Nai Harn Resort among the verdant hillside foliage with your breakfast destination, Rock Salt restaurant at its base.

Every morning on Nai Harn Beach you’ll find an informal community of southern Phuket residents walking, talking, swimming and exercising along this glorious kilometer of sand, before arrival of the tourists and intense heat. Join in with this crowd for a final swim and don’t forget your post-ride stretches.

Then it’s in to the welcoming embrace of lovely beachside Sea Salt restaurant where their healthy breakfast menu is served from 7:30am to 10am. It includes such favourites as wild Scandinavian salmon and creamy scrambled eggs on granary toast for just B365 inclusive of service and VAT. Or there’s Eggs Benedict for B295, or their signature full Rock Salt breakfast comprising homemade English pork sausages, chargrilled bacon, plum tomato, chestnut mushrooms, granary toast and fresh eggs, poached, scrambled or fried just as you like them all for B325!

Wonderful coffees are just B70 or B85 for a cappuccino or latte and there’s a terrific selection of fresh-baked pastries such as almond croissants, or naughty fruit Danishes all priced at under B100. Attention to detail and a quest for perfection is everywhere in this lovely breakfast. For example, their in-house baker works from 5am every morning producing the fresh pastries you’re so gratefully devouring, and the sausages and bacon are all produced and smoked in-house.

Sitting at Rock Salt overlooking that wondrous beach and back south at the hilly ride you’ve just conquered, you feel like a king and reward yourself with another well-deserved coffee in the sound knowledge that you’ve found the best bike and breakfast combination in Phuket!

“Bicycling” Baz Daniel fell off his first bicycle aged three... a case of love at first slight. Since then he has spent a further 65 years falling on and off bicycles all over the world, but his passion endures. When not in traction, he found time to become Senior VP of the world’s largest advertising and communications group, finally retiring to Phuket in 2006. He has been penning his Blazing Saddles column, chronicling his cycling adven­tures in Phuket and beyond, since 2013.

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