Aaaand the H2H team valiantly enters Kham Duc, bruised but never beaten, and triumphant over what had become a deceptively long day. Upon waking up in Thanh My and feeding the Hotel’s resident pet monkey (seriously!) whatever odd bits of food were around, the crew set out for what was to be a progressively wetter and rougher ride. While the vistas of high, green mountains certainly lend themselves to the billows of fog, we cyclists are a group decidedly preferring of drier climes, and after 10km it’s safe to say that we were all soaked to the bone. Furthermore, the trend of better roads and crash-free rides that we have enjoyed so much, cruising down to the valley bottoms, was broken. The first casualty of the day was Mr. Joe Piechura who, upon receiving a call, lost cycle control in the muddy shoulder of the road and went careening towards a cement gutter. With a front row seat to the event, riding some 15 feet behind, I watched as Joe performed what was at once terrible falling technique (if a good technique exists), but with such an unwavering grace that he made the entire crash look much more casual—even smooth. Luckily Joe’s face broke the fall, and now his roguish good looks have been taken to a whole new level. His recovery was quick, his attitude was positive, and he managed well the flurry of first aid packs that were thrust towards him by the surrounding H2H team members.
The second of the day’s mishaps provided some crash-contrast, as I witnessed it only audibly, and to describe the event, will have to rely upon the descriptions of fellow rider (all of unquestionable character and integrity.) From my forward position I heard what sounded like tire trouble and Ms. Dana Gibson call out a loud expletive (I never knew you spoke Spanish!), signaling impending calamity. This serious of sounds was then joined by the similar shouts of her father, Corey Gibson. Turning around immediately, I saw a veritable pile of Gibson, and came to offer assistance. It seems that a suspiciously tire-width gap in the road had claimed Dana’s tire, not allowing her to turn and eventually causing the spill. According to eye-witness reports, Corey’s arrival in the aforementioned pile was due to his chivalrous leap from his saddle to catch his tumbling daughter. Again, recoveries were quick, spirits unbroken, and team assistance forthcoming.
Unfortunately the third mishap of the day was of a larger scale, upon rounding a corner we came to a point where traffic had backed up, and as we approached, we came upon a car crash that had upturned and smashed a smaller vehicle and left a massive industrial truck on its side, effectively closing both lanes. We proceeded with caution and reminded ourselves to remain wary on these roads.
|wasn't expecting to see that today|
|bicycle crashes aren't quite this dramatic looking|
The day did end quite happily with a big H2H lunch, with team members filtering into Kham Duc from the pouring cold to find hot rice, beef, pork, and eggs. With bellies full and bodies done shivering, we agreed that the day had been difficult but that we had prevailed, and while my fingers are still slightly pruney as I write this, I know that the wet 100+ kilometers that await us in the morning will be taken in similar stride.