Our cycling circuit today was just that, one huge circuit. Today was a huge mix of varying weather, terrain, vistas, and road conditions. Our tour began with the threatening tropical storm just ceasing in town as we departed with an overcast sky; mist lingering in the outlying mountains. A slow warm-up led to a nice downhill ramble for a handful or two of coasting kilometers. After this, it seemed as if the rain might break again just as we entered the canopied jungle of central Vietnam, only a few kilometers away from the Laos border. Our initial ascension began and would not stop for a while in these mountains. About 20 kilometers in, I found myself wrestling with mountains as I was swallowed by a grey film of fog. At about this time I struggled with the decision to surrender to the mountain and walk up or ignore my deceitful mind and shift to what seemed to be my final gear. Just then, I was hit with a one, two, one, two punch of The Killers song “Human”. Synchronized with the pounding beat, I carefully examined what we being said in the lyrics as I felt connected to the song. A few listens later, I reflected on these lyrics and really felt they spoke to me.
The song begins with the question, “Are we human or are we dancer”. A common question many must ask themselves if what we are is human and there is something unique to our existence, or what I believe is being alluded to in Hunter S. Thompson’s quote criticizing mankind saying we are raising a generation of dancers.
The first verse reads…
“I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind
And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes
Clear your heart
Cut the cord”
Again, I felt entwined in these words. This ride garnished me with an opportunity to give back, hoping I was involved in an act truly valued and effective. Through the past ten years, I have battled with the thought of using myself as an instrument to help make a difference or live a life for monetary motives. After university, I decided to submit myself to the prospect of helping. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple in just “trying to help”. It doesn’t come across one that cleanly. The first four lines truly addressed me. Earlier this year I was searching for meaning (are we human) and purpose (in life). And it’s opportunities like this ride which come along . It’s important to keep an open mind with eyes and heart open and sometimes, yes sometimes you may have to surrender to what may seem as just an infant feeling. But, for me, this “call” speaks overwhelmingly. Keep that open mind, clear the heart and go with it. If anything, it’s gonna be an incredible journey.
Well, somehow that song surged through my earphones for me to hear and dwell on. I was able to defeat the mountains after about 20 kilometers of at least 10% elevation. Passing some hidden waterfalls, we stopped for a rest and a much needed water stockup. Atop the mountain, we could see our glorious decent to cool air and resting legs. Our landscape rapidly transformed from jungle mountains to what seemed a summer stroll through the Austrian countryside. Staring down at my odometer, fearful of what it may say, we had already reached 80 km. Woohooo! But wait, what’s that. Cloud cover running off into the distance and HELLO sun. The sun was not welcomed at this point. Meandering over hills and more hills, it began to take it’s toll. I was again at a point, testing myself to see how much was truly left in my tank. A few pitstops later, we saw the sign that we had entered our destination. Just on the side of the road in the city we replenished ourselves with a dozen fried bananas. Welcome to Plei Kan everyone, 110 kilometers (68 miles)later. Bring on the Bengay and mimosas!!!!