Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Rain Drops and Roses

WOW!!! We have had a crazy couple of days thanks to Tropical Depression #18. We had woken up especially early Monday morning hoping for the best, but fearing the worst. I was watching CNN looking for a weather update, and finally the world weather center came on. The first thing they showed was Vietnam being pelted by heavy rains centered in our exact location. Sitting at breakfast we watched the rain pouring down and the trees being bent by huge wind gusts. It was clear that we were not riding. As the others awoke and came to breakfast the decision to not ride was unanimous. We decided to head inland by van with the hopes of escaping away from the tropical storm, because it was extremely unlikely that the weather in Hue would be any better if we waited it out a day. The team was quick to mobilize. We hired a third vehicle to transport our bikes and packs. Disappointed, but confident in our decision we loaded up in our vans and set off down the same route we would have taken on our bicycles. After a forty-minute pit stop at KFC, which stunk up the van for the remainder of the journey, we began climbing the windy mountain road. The rain did not let up the entire way there, but we kept morale high with fun and games throughout the ride. After we settled in we decided to have a team meeting to discuss our weather dependent options for Tuesday. I was really impressed with how well 20 people were able to discuss and debate our stressful situation. Basically, we couldn't really decide anything for sure until the next day, so we concluded we would wake up early ready to ride. We all went to bed anxious not knowing what the weather would bring us. It rained throughout the night into the morning. At 7am it was decided.....Half of us were going to tackle to 120k mountainous day on bicycles, while the others (including myself) -- who did not feel comfortable on the wet roads in the rain -- would follow in vehicles. The riders set off and I wished them luck, but i was happy and dry in my decision. About two hours later we got some bad news from the riders. There was a huge landslide on the Ho Chi Minh Highway that was impassable and would take two days to clear, they were turning around and we were going into planning mode. What sucks about a developing country like Vietnam is that it is very hard to get information. We had no way of finding out road conditions in the affected areas which made it impossible for us to make a fully informed decision. We decided to head back to Hue and change our route to avoid ther storm and the road damaged caused by it. After studying the map and talking to the drivers we came up with a plan to keep us dry, safe, and on course. At last night's meeting in the flooded city of Hue we were all relieved to be eating pizza as well as knowing that the worst was likely over. For the third and hopefully final time this morning we packed our bikes into a truck, and took vans to Da Nang. Around noon we unloaded the bikes and did our first stretching routine in days. Finally after three days (which felt like an eternity) we were back on the road. It took a few kilometers to work through the stiffness and return to feeling harmonious with my bike. It was one of the most scenic rides of the trip so far. As I breathed in the fresh air and enjoyed the silence of the mountains I was realived that we had made it through the drama as a team. It feels good to be back on track, and back in the saddle.

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