Wednesday, 8 June 2016

A Thank You to Our 2016 Sponsors

H2H would like to say a huge thank you to DHL, our lead sponsor for the 5th year running. DHL provides support vans and drivers for the whole ride and media and logistical assistance to the team before, during and after the ride. Every day of the ride, our two fantastic DHL drivers Mr Khang and Mr Phat transport the team kit and spare bikes, they help with navigation, hotel bookings and road safety advice and drive up and down through the team refilling our water bottles between towns in these hot conditions. We simply couldn’t do the ride without them. The support vans are our biggest expense on the ride so DHL’s generous contribution ensures that 100% of donations go straight to the 6 brilliant charities H2H is fundraising for and riders cover all additional expenses themselves. Thank you DHL for your support, expertise and encouragement, it’s our privilege to work in partnership with you and a huge boost to our charity fundraising. Another huge logistical support this year came from Le Hoang Pro Bike who kindly donated two mechanics, Mr Sang and Mr Duc, and a motorbike for them to travel between the riders and help them with bike problems along the route. Their expertise was indispensable during the ride.

H2H would also like to thank the following 2016 partners:

-     Game On Bar: A large cash donation, and hosted our H2H pub quiz fundraiser with generous raffles prizes. GO also hosted our homecoming drinks and generously paid for a DJ that evening.

-     Teaching House New York: A large cash donation.

-     Apollo: A large cash donation

-     Al Frescos: A large cash donation.

-          California Fitness & Yoga: Provided free bicycle spinning classes for the team to get us fit and ready before the ride.

-     K1 Fitness: Provided free circuit training and conditioning sessions to help with our strength training in the lead-up to the ride.

-          Nutrition Depot: Donated a huge amount of energy gels, nutrition bars and various other supplements to fuel us during the ride.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all our corporate sponsors for supporting H2H 2016 and our charity partners. You are fantastic, and we hope to continue our H2H relationship in the future!

-          Kate Grigg

Monday, 6 June 2016

Day 27 - The Last Chapter: Dinh Quan to HCMC, 115 km

We were up at the crack of dawn and raring to go, one last time. We had a long day ahead of us, but we were spurred on by the fact that we’d be crossing the finish line, seeing friends and enjoying celebrations by the time the sun had set. It wasn’t without its challenges. Logistics faltered at times, and resulted in some riders taking different routes back into the city. Bikes let us down too, and there were a series of punctures.

The scenery surrounding us on our way back to Saigon was unfortunately uninspiring. The roads taking us into our final destination were littered with lorries, fumes and dust. However, it was comforting to recognise our surroundings during the last 30km into the city. After a month of rice, tofu and vegetables, clothing saturated in sweat, a sore behind and numerous hours in the saddle, I was overcome with emotion upon seeing Saigon’s skyline. I never thought I’d consider the city as ‘home’ but it was my fort of familiarity within Vietnam, and I was glad to return.

We regrouped at The Boathouse in Thao Dien for a quick drink and bite to eat, and then peddled on to the Notre Dame Cathedral to be met by our friends, family and supporters.
And what a welcoming committee we had to greet us! The British Consul, charity representatives, sponsors, various media outlets and our band of fans! Admittedly, we were a bit late in making our grand arrival. But, hopefully that added to the dramatic build-up… luckily the people who’d turned out to meet us were very patient, and they came bearing smiles, flowers, prosecco and beer. The perfect gift for 10 weary and thirsty cyclists.

That evening we had a night of revelry, without the worry of a 6AM start and a stretch of many kilometres to conquer. It was a strange feeling waking up the morning (more like afternoon) after in the knowledge that it was finished. Over 2,000km done, and we all made it back safe, and relatively sane!

Over the course of a month, our motley crew of riders covered an average daily distance of 80km and rested our legs in 24 different towns. And, as you can imagine, covering a distance of such great proportions on a bicycle gave rise to both triumphs and tribulations. Knowing that the mammoth bike ride we embarked on was raising funds to build schools, provide shelter and give disadvantaged children opportunities for happiness, gave the trip a real sense of purpose.

H2H 2016 was an incredible experience. I feel blessed to have had the chance to contribute to this wonderful country and raise awareness about young people in need. I hope the legacy will last, and people will continue cycling to break the cycle of poverty. Here’s to H2H 2017!

-Kate Grigg

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Day 26: 75.58 km from Bao Loc to Gia Kiem

Day 26: 75.58 km from Bao Loc to Gia Kiem

Today was a long but good ride with beautiful scenery but the first 20 minutes of the ride was downhill and too many buses and trucks to stop and take pictures.  The first half of the day was really good with smooth and quiet roads. But, the closer and closer we became to reaching our destination there were lots of trucks, traffic, taxis and motorbikes. We were no longer cycling thru the quiet mountains of Vietnam. 

The highlight today was the last 20K decent into Gia Kiem and we reached the hotel around 2pm.
 Only 1 days to go with 110 km left until we reach our finish line in Saigon.

Having trouble loading pictures. That's not new. Pictures to come. 


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Day 25: 105 km from Lam Ha to Bao Loc

        Today was a long ride with very little in the way of scenery. The first half of the day was   horrible with roadwork. The roads were in the process of being built which meant dust bowl, potholes   and many angry trucks divers overtaking on single carriage ways trying to kill cyclists.
The highlight today was the last 20K decent into Bao Loc and we reached the hotel around 2pm.
 Only 2 days to go with 180km left until we reach our finish line in Saigon.

I hope H2H 2017 will enjoy the new smooth roads

Roads are getting better after 50K

View from our hotel - heavy rain right after we arrived

Georgina ended up in a hotel with an adorable chihuahua who wouldn't leave
 her arms and took a nap in her room 

Bao Loc is all about tea, silk and the cultivation of mulberry leaves 

Photos : Georgina & Rachael

Hoa L

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Blog Day 24 – Lien Son to Lam Ha - climbs, chains and friendly ladies!

And we're off - on the very last of our three Evil Bitch Days. It was a bit of a grueling start, as a 5.30am start to beat the heat and the climbs meant that we had to get up before the sun had risen. But after a few banh mi trungs, we were all off. 

Laurel’s fiancĂ© Adam caused the first waves of the day, with their bike ‘Doris’ (no comment) not starting due to a dodgy petrol purchase – and he, along with Doris, were soon keeping Mr Cuong company in his van.

The first Grade 3 climb was soon outside Lam Ha, but everybody managed it and there were some nice downhills on the other side (with a few hammock stops en route) before we hit a massive lake with a floating village below the bridge.

There were two Grade 2s starting at 52km and 74km. The first 2 started off relatively easily but then went pretty much straight up from 62km to 72km mark. The second 2 was from I think 84km to 92km, and was followed by a long, steep downhill into Lam Ha, where we had a bit of hotel woes, but they were soon sorted out, especially after a number of us spent the night at Lam Ha’s infamous Munich Beer Hall.

All in all Day 24 turned out to be challenging but doable.

Climbs - The last of our big climb days. While the climbs were pretty serious, the whole team seemed to manage, helped by the cloud cover (and the rain which affected some) which kept the heat down.

Chains - poor Kate Grigg had more chain woes (and on a particularly steep climb) but was soon back up and at 'em.

Finally, friendly ladies - Laurel Winter, Tony Martin & I were all propositioned by the local 'friendly lady'. But you can probably imagine my reaction when she suddenly got off one 'customer's' motorbike and started making suggestions. This, mind, was while I was taking a water break (drink not pee) halfway up the first steep climb in deep jungle. Needless to say, I cycled the second half of that climb with even more speed. She was one scary lady (sorry no pic). H2H team 2017 – consider yourself warned!

Davide Greene

Monday, 25 April 2016

Day 21: Ea Drang to Buon Ma Thuot - Sick Day :(

Today we cycled from Ea Drang to Buon Ma Thuot; around 78km all in all. The ride started really rather pleasantly once we got out of the city, with some rolling hills and what remains of the local forest (I’m afraid slash and burn agriculture is quite prevalent in this part of the World). After that it was the best kind of ride in terms of actual cycling; a nice gradual downhill where you can lock-in the top gear and eat up the kilometres. Which was very much a necessity as I will explain later…

Whilst Ea Drang appears not to be a favourite, lacking a bit of character as it does, it did have some rather amazing ice cream and some rather tasty pancakes.

Buon Ma Thuot on the other hand has turned out to be a rather lovely little city. As the capital of the Central Highlands its relatively developed, which means some cool amenities like a fully-loaded supermarket and delicious vegan restaurants. However it still maintains some of the rustic and lovely old-school Vietnamese charm; pleasant locals, low-costs, nice trees. One of our riders, David, who has been in Vietnam the longest, has informed us that its like Saigon back in the 90s! I’m sure it was a very cool place to be, just like BMT is now.

Unfortunately though, my main news for this particular day is that it was my turn to get sick. A rather poo tummy and a troublesome fever kept me bed ridden after we finished the ride. Whilst the 78km were doable, I could feel the ill taking over progressively and was relieved to arrive at the hotel early on. Spent the rest of the day in bed and… well you can probably figure out the rest.

Here’s to recovering before the next ride. We have a rest day tomorrow so I’m sure I will be fine. Watch this space!


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Day 20: Pleiku to Ea Drang

(Pictures to follow!)

Our day started with a cycle out of town to the orphanage, unfortunately we didn't get to see the kids again but we had a great breakfast spread put on by the sisters. We were sent us on our way with half a wheel of cheese, baguettes, fruit and a jar of their home grown coffee. Their generosity was moving and it was humbling to be able to give something back to the centre.

The day went on and kilometre after kilometre of uninspiring highway went by. It was nice to take it easy and enjoy a hammock break every 20 km or so, we chatted with the locals a bit at a coconut stop who said that had never heard of Ea Drang. We weren't in any rush to get there after hearing this! So we took our time, enjoying a nap after some more cheese and bread for lunch.

The road went on, I could have been riding up and down the same stretch over and over again and I probably wouldn't have noticed any difference. The last 15 km were a little more soul destroying, it was only a gradual incline but with no scenery to enjoy apart from looking at the next few kilometres of barren road ahead my mood quickly plummeted. Even the 10 km marker couldn't lift my spirits as by that point I was convinced the markers were lying, how on earth can the road still go on?? 

Usually I enjoy interacting with the kids and locals along the way who shout out "HELLOWHATISYOURNAME"  or cheer us on but when I'm sun burnt, bug bitten, thirsty and bored of the road, swearing under my breath at every passing truck blareing it's horn out in my ear is the only thing that gives me any enjoyment. I find it hard to comprehend how happy they can seem when I am looking forward to the ride ending and being able to lie down in an air conditioned hotel. But all good things and bad things must come to end, and once rested in the hotel the blandness of the ride was almost forgotten. 

Lessons to be learnt: give without expecting to receive, try not to be a miserable bugger when the going gets tough.