Troi. Oi. Today was a bit of a tough one. We left our mid-range hotel (this means leaving swimming pool and free buffet breakfasts) and peddled into the somewhat greyish distance. Alright to begin with, the hills we came upon were steep but short and we made good progress in plenty of time. However, shortly after my comment to Katie (along the sweet, innocent lines of "It's not too bad is it?"), the landscape changed a little: new hills. Very steep. Very long. Alright still, with the pretty scenery and the mass whizz breaks provided by the wonderful true fact that what goes up, must come down (mostly).
A stop for lunch (oh rice, I have missed you so) and a big cheer to Katie who did 40k with TWO punctured tyres and some dodgy front breaks, and we set off again, excited about the shortness of the remaining 30. But then, the road started to incline. Higher and higher. Steep to the point that many of us were unable to coerce our bikes into taking us any further. Some of us got off and walked. The walk-a-bit, ride-a-bit system carried on for a good 20k, on a mountain-hugging road that wound nicely around forestyness and waterfallyness. Very beautiful and made even more picturesque by the fog (clouds, perhaps?) that hung around the tree tops right at the mountain summits. All peaceful and of a calming effect, bar the unpredictability of the road (curse you, manic minivan) and of the road barriers (ooh swerve the wrong way and you may just fall off the side of the cliff). Pretty amazing.
We sweated away for a good few hours but in the end all was good after a 7km milestone (or should it be kilometrestone?) and a quick freewheel downhill brought each of us into the cries and cheers of fellow teammates- we had made it!
6 easy kilometres down the road of nominal flatness and we had reached our destination of Aluoi (the most beautiful place in Vietnam??). A day of highs and lows (but mainly highs!), and two more to come (s'alright, we're a confident bunch), tainted only by the fact that facebook has been blocked in Vietnam. Lame.