Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Day 22 Recipe for a perfect biking team

First start with a dash of Alice's surprising strength.
Add a cup of Andy's over sharing with a teaspoon of getting lost together with a splash of leadership from Craig.
Next, grind some of Davide's good memory seeds with a tbsp of boy scout navigation skills and throw in a generous slice of Emma's nice and caring spice.
Marinate some Isaac in a natural water source and add to the mix.
Finely dice some Jules determination and toss together with a sliver of John Payne's effortless overtaking skills.
Sprinkle the mixture with John Pemberton's fundraising flavour and roast until you have a coating of Krispy's hilarity and hand chops.
Most importantly blend with Lính's essential essence and a touch of her beaming smile.
Whisk in some of Moe's adorableness with a splash of unexpected attitude.
Carefully add a drop of Ray's supportiveness and sassy pout, if you can't find this a tin of peaches will do.
Mix in Sabrina's sense of humour and a glug of giggles and puree everything together with Saz's unwavering optimism.
Simmer over a low competitive heat and watch for bubbles of Kacey geekiness.
Season the dish with a generous helping of extra strong tenacious Tessa.
Finally ferment for a month in a humid, sweaty, environment and leave to rest in a bad hotel room.

Enjoy with a sense of achievement and wash the bitter sweetness down with an ice cold cup of camaraderie!

-Alex (and some brainstorming with Sabrina)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Day 21 Pleiku to Ea Drang

Day 21?! I am still in shock that our ride is getting closer and closer to the end. But rather than dwell on this I am trying to really appreciate and experience this last week of riding.

So let me give you an overview of my day: We woke up bright and early at 6 and got ready for our day. The clip on my shoe broke so I had to sort it out but our amazing DHL drivers fixed it for me in the end. After dealing with my shoe crisis I hurried off to consume my daily Banh Mi Opla.

At about 7 a pack of us set out for our ride. The first 30k was up hill right off the bat - buenos dias legs! The road was also very traffic filled so we had to really concentrate. At 30 k we made a stop for beverages. Here we met up with the 6:30 group. Then we set off again, the next 40 k was littered with headwinds. We took turns blocking the winds and kept moving at a great pace. 10k out of town we all stopped and had quite arguably the most delicious Pho Vietnam has to offer.

Then we finished the last part of our ride quickly and ended it with a strawberry smoothie.

- Kristy

Day 20 - Visit to Live and Give in Pleiku

We started the day well with sunshine and a light breeze! After a few days of intense sun, we all welcome a breeze with open arms. With a meer 49kms to ride, we took our time and paced nicely, however, the hills didn't hold up... We climbed 630 meters of elevation! But this was a small bump in comparison to what we have completed so far!
The whole morning there was a certain buzz around the team. We have been together for nearly 3 weeks and have mixed motivations for doing the ride, but ultimately we are all here to support vulnerable children in Vietnam. We were all enriched and inspired by our visit to Blue Dragon before the ride and were excited to visit another organisation which we are supporting.

Live and Give is a charity which started in Belgium with Oanh Le Tinh and Jan Peeters. They are committed to helping and supporting children in Vietnam. Live and Give has a boarding school in Pleiku which supports children from small minorities in Vietnam. Most kids from the school belong to an ethnic minority, called the Jai rai. From the age of  3, the children are tought the Vietnamese language and basic social skills, as their minority is so small, Vietnamese is not commonly spoken in their villages. From the age of 6, the children attend a public Vietnamese school nearby. Live and Give keep on helping them with extra lessons, homework, English lessons and how to work on the computer. It is their intention that as many kids as possible graduate from high school and intend to keep on helping them after graduation to get  a university degree or to get some kind of a trade or craft.

With this knowledge we were very excited to meet these children and the nuns who run the school. As we arrived, freshly showered after our sweaty ride, we were greeted by sister Mai who teaches at the school. Her English was brilliant and she shared some knowledge of the things that they do. The school is placed in the heart of a coffee bean farm which hides it in a beautiful landscape.

As we talked with Sister Mai, we noticed a small face in the window. Den is a 21 month old cheeky little boy with the most wonderful eyelashes. He smiled and ran circles around us all. As we walked around we entered a gym full of children. We all tentatively entered as they looked at us shy and giggling. We began a small kick about which eventually turned into a massive game. The children were so alive and ready to interact, they just needed a little confidence boost.

After a good run around, we were ready for dinner. A beautifully served meal of spaghetti, salad, huge loads of warm bread and... CHEESE! A whole wheel of cheese! Every team member simultaneously turned into Gromit with excitement.

Not only did we have an incredible dinner (with incredible cheese) but we got to meet the most wonderful children that we are going to help support until they can provide for themselves.

We would like to thank all of the children and nuns at Live and Give for giving us an unforgettable experience and shedding a light on what the money we raise can do to help children in Vietnam.


Read more about Live and Give organization here
Donate to our cause here

Day 19 - Ngoc Hoi(or Plei Can) to Kon Tum

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true"
This part of the song has been playing in my head for the whole ride this morning.
To sum up the ride today:
A short ride and very enjoyable
Endless blue skies
White clouds in different shapes and forms
And thousands of green butterflies everywhere

Kon Tum is a nice little city and it's easy to get around. We visited an old wooden church, which is around 3min of cycling from our hotel, and nice little coffee shops facing the river and the range of mountains.

There are several things that I have learned from this trip and I wish to share:
1. Vietnam is BEAU-TI-FUL!! Mind-blowingly beautiful!

2. The ride is not only about physical fitness, it is also about mental fitness. You might have spent months in the gyms preparing for this, but no amount of working out or cycling would prepare you for the mid-day heat without shade, the pouring rain, or the dogs chasing you when you're going uphill with sore legs. It is willpower that keeps the wheels rolling.

3. Sometimes it is better to stop, turn around and be amazed! Sometimes it is better to forget about you and your problems for a moment, to take a look at your surroundings, look at the sky, the river, the mountain, or just to say 'Hi' to people.

4. If you wait for something long enough, it might actually work out in your favour. Around 10 years ago, I was jealous of my friends who studying at ILA, my family could not afford to send me there. I could never have imagined that one day I would be hanging out with these many ILA teachers. And all of those 'fun time' activities that we had after the ride really warmed my heart. Special thanks to my teammates for making 10-year-old-me's dream come true!

5. Travelling with foreigners in your own country is quite an interesting experience. You start to notice a lot of things that you did not notice before. Seeing things that you haven't seen before. Hearing things that you haven't heard before. There are so many of those moments when I could not stop laughing. When I heard the phrase thegioididong "properly" for the first time. When Sabrina translated our street name and hotel name into English, Hai Duong=two sugar, Hai Ba Trung=two three egg. And many more!

6. I will miss this month, April 2018, a lot. I will miss my H2H family so much. I will spend hours and hours in the future looking at the photos, watching Isaac's videos, re-reading the blog posts and re-playing every moment in my head over and over again. There is nothing that I could do to make it not happen. However, I still have 9 more days to live every second of the ride with my H2H family and I will value that!


Saturday, 21 April 2018

Day 17 Rest Day at Kham Duc

Rider Isaac is a wizard at making great videos with his GoPro. For a break from the narrative, here are some of his videos. Enjoy!

Day 18 Kham Duc to Plei Can

Kham Duc to Plei Can; rest day to 115km.
Cold and misty to sunny then rainy.
A beautiful scenic ride that can only be summed up in haikus.

Early start, bahn mi
Stretching in a group early
On the road cruising

Beautiful river
Sites galore, so many things
Cycling and seeing

Puppy friends, break time
Super soft, warm, little pups
Mom can see close by

Cultural building
Exquisite artworks inside
Beams and columns, paint

Tea with the British
Funny faces all around
Can spiders fall down?
(Inside joke haha)

The last twenty k
Rain came down quickly and cold
Thanks, beer and hotels

- Kacey

Thursday, 19 April 2018

An A-Z of H2H Day 16 – From Thanh My to Kham Duc

Alarm calls  - After two weeks on the road with early starts daily, does anyone need these any more? Not me. Usually up between 4 and 5am. Ouch.

Banh mi trung – the daily search for our morning fuel has become something of a ritual. Thanh My’s were good.

Catching up – For some reason, I usually end up in the pack toward the back. Today, my accomplices were Tessa, Isaac and Kristy. We shared banh mi’s, banter and warmed up together during the first 15km.

Downpour means dogs - Andy, our resident weather forecaster, let us down today as a sudden heavy shower took us all off guard. But we managed to stop at a roadside spot, chatting with the locals and most importantly playing with the super cute puppies (see pic below).

Every cloud has a silver lining – After the rain, the sun will shine and Vietnam reveals even more stunning scenery.

Flora and fauna & Greenery – Today’s ride may be short but the river side road revealed an incredible canopy of primeval jungle which was truly a beauty to behold.

Hills & Inclines – Today was a fairly gentle ride until the last 10 kms which involved some serious inclines before we descended into Kham Duc.

Juggernauts – Not too many to contend with today, but on the hills and climbs it was often a contest to see who would reach the top first (Hint: the H2Hers often beat the juggernauts)

Kham Duc – a little slice of the wild west in the middle of Central Vietnam. On a Sunday afternoon, Kham Duc’s quiet streets could easily double for a studio set for a set piece stand off between cowboys and sheriffs.

Lunch is something we don’t often get to enjoy on the road together, but with today’s relatively short ride, we were all in Kham Duc by midday and so could enjoy a fantastic lunch by a lovely lake.

Munchies – despite having all had a great lunch, by mid afternoon the munchies were starting to set in and the hunt for snacks was on – what could Kham Duc entice us with?

Not a lot, it seems, although the crisps, fruit and banh mi seemed to be flowing…

Oh, and of course, those Bia Larue’s kept on flowing in the hotel garden – one of the better rest stops on H2H.

People is what it’s all about – the H2H team (riders and drivers), the wonderful people we meet on the road, and the children, who we are riding for…

Queen Monich – read on…

Rain – did I mention the downpour earlier?

Saz & Emma started some very silly drinking games over lunch and so the Larue’s kept coming and as a result…

Total exhaustion was starting to set in – little did I know that I would be spending most of the next 36 hours in bed – physically…

Unable! To! Move!

Van – Mr Cuong and his van have been a staple of H2H for many years and today it was poor John Payne (food poisoning), John Pemberton and Craig (flu) who had to sit out the ride and enjoy Cuong’s company.

Waterfall – Isaac, Kristy and myself could not resist taking a plunge at the Queen Monich Waterfall.

Xhausted – did I mention, how exhausted many of us were after the middle four days.

Yes – finally. Rest day is here…

Zzzzzzzz – I was so looking forward to a late night with the guys (accompanied by some alcohol) but by 7pm I was out like a light. The best laid plans… but as it turned out my absence did not stop the rest of the team from having some alcoholic fun, but beyond that my lips are sealed as “what happens on H2H, stays on H2H”.

PS – Unfortunately, Ana had to leave H2H today. We all wish her well.