Riding my bicycle across Vietnam
I set a new record this morning. 11:30 in the saddle time, but it was well-earned, in my opinion, and knowing that it was a fairly short day, I didn’t feel bad. I was desperately behind in my blogging, so I decided to sit down again at the Radio Cafe to plug away. Two coffee’s later, I was off. Lyle had left 1.5 hours earlier, done waiting around for me.
Today’s ride was, dare I say, nearly perfect. The sun was often muzzled by clouds, and very soon after leaving Huong Khe, the route actually took me off of the HCM road, onto a smaller, scenic byway. There was some climbing to do at first, but I was well rewarded by expansive vistas opening up on both sides. I took some GoPro video which I’ll process and upload when I have some time! Admittedly, the road surface was not quite as smooth as the main drag, but the scenery more than made up for it.
About 20kms from the destination of Quy Dat I rode into a seemingly affluent town. There were some older buildings interspersed among new construction, and several large motorbike and electronics stores gathering crowds of people. I grabbed a truly fantastic bowl of beef pho. The broth was tea-colored, with circles of orange fat floating on the top and loads of fresh onions. It was just what I needed to put some fuel in the legs. Pho power! Lyle informed me that there was a good climb into the destination town of Quy Dat, but I felt invigorated from my pho.
It was in fact a pretty decent climb. The first section I attacked calmly, listening to some Astral Projection (Dad will probably get that one at least). As was the case earlier in the day, each pedal stroke was rewarded with hazy hills spreading out along the horizon. This was truly remote, and I loved it. Construction workers, truck drivers, and motorbikers waved me on towards the top. I felt invincible. The descent was also fantastic, approaching speeds of up to 30mph; but with a firm grip on the handlebars, strategic application of the brakes, sliding rear wards on the bike, and pushing off of the pedals, I felt the wind on my face without drama. At the bottom I crossed a small stream, and then it was more up. This time it was properly steep, I dug in, selecting the 2nd to biggest gear selection on my bike. My promise to myself is that I will save that last gear for when I am about to cry - and it wasn’t going to be today!
It was about 4:30 by the time I arrived into town. The sun was starting to set. I found Lyle at a local coffee shop chatting up the locals - classic. I pulled off the road, and ordered a coffee, sitting with Lyle and three Vietnamese men. By the looks of coffee and tea glasses filling the table, the group had been there for a while. But nevertheless, the late-comer was welcomed in graciously. Using Google Translate, we actually had a pretty good conversation with the locals. In addition to the coffee, I was also served ramen and cake. Lyle and I said our goodbyes, and headed back to the hotel.
I called it an early night, just taking the time to relax in the room. Shower, plan out the next few days, etc... Tomorrow is going to be a big day, 70 miles. I am going to be riding with Lyle for the first 40, a friend of his lives along the route and he is going to peel off to visit with her for a day or two. But we will have one last lunch in a small expat community at a pub. I’m already getting excited about some good pub food, as much as I love noodles, I think that I’ve earned some fish and chips! After that, I’ll have 30 miles to go into the fairly large fishing village of Dong Hoi. I’m hoping to get there fairly early so as to walk around, relax at the hotel, perhaps a massage?
Time spent on the bike: 3:26
Average speed: 12.7mph