Saturday, 6 November 2010

Hanoi to Tinh Gia (Days 1-4)

Days 1-4 are part of H2H 2010 history. We've cycled about 280 kilometers, 174 miles thus far. We're currently in Tinh Gia, a town that looks like any other in Vietnam except it's on the coast. We're holed up at the same hotel we stayed last year, just across the street from the ocean. The same, slightly deranged but jovial proprietor is there as well. Last year he sported a business on top, party on the bottom look with a sport coat and camoflage shorts. This year he's rockin' a leather hat and vest. He even turned on some soft-core porn for us. What a nice fellow.Things have been going well but not without hiccups. Angela had a flat yesterday morning just before we reached the Ho Chi Minh Highway. We decided to use it as a sort of experiment to see if our driver Mr. Ton would fix the flat. He didn't. (Our exchanges with the drivers are somewhat limited because of the obvious language barrier.) Rather he took the wheel to the closest down to replace the tube and get it pumped up. Experiment fail. Maybe I was foolish to assume the drivers would fix all our flats like the incredible Mr. Bac did last year. Anyway, we're all carrying spare tubes now.On Thursday (day 2), Ross had some derailer issues. The clamp that holds the derailer on broke beyond repair. Without any specialty shops, there's no hope of a fix until Hue. Fortunately, we had a spare bike (Chris's brother David, who is meeting us in Hue). Unfortunately, the same thing happened to Abigail today. The bad news: She had to spend the day in the van and we won't receive a shipment of the replacement parts until three more days of riding. The good news: we will actually be receiving the parts before Hue and Colin (our bike expert), will rig up her bike so she can ride in a single gear. More bad news: there may be a couple hilly days coming up. I really can't remember. But we'll be on the ever-scenic, often sloping Ho Chi Minh Highway again.The group has been incredible team players thus far, everyone is in good spirits and getting along. Any qualms I had about doing the ride a second time have vanished. Tomorrow we have a 100km day followed by a 113km day. That's why we're spending the rest of today relaxing on the beach!

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