Thursday, 18 April 2013

Day 13: EBD 1

Day 13, also known as the first Evil Bitch Day (EBD), was a day of extremes. Extreme mountains, extreme weather and extreme cycling. We set off from A Luoi with the sun in the sky (the first signs of sunshine we'd experienced in what felt like years) feeling in high spirits after beasting yesterday's intense mountains, but nervous about what the 105km day would bring.

We headed into the mountains, met almost immediately by brutal terrain, but Mike Williams led the slow and steady zig-zag up the steepest parts, with everyone following suit, weaving across the road like drunk people stumbling home after a night out. The climbs were, as The Steak had told us the previous night, long and challenging and our spirits were being gradually dampened like our sweaty lycra in the extreme heat.
Indeed, it felt like it would never end. It was particularly disheartening when we hyped each other up, saying it would definitely be downhill after the next bend, but it never was.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of excuses to stop and take photos - the scenery was overwhelmingly beautiful. We were surrounded by nothing but mountains and the incessant low hum of cicadas (and the occasional hazardous goat or cow in the road).

After what felt like a lifetime of climbing and involuntary cries of pain in the blazing midday heat, rounding a corner to see half of the team perched on top of a mountain tunnel, cheering everyone on was definitely a high point.

The next part of the ride was certainly not a breeze, particularly when the tropical downpour set in, just as we began our descent after the second huge climb. It was when the lightening struck that we started to get genuinely worried. Exposed to the elements and mounted on metal framed bicycles....would we be struck down in this electrical storm? I pictured the Daily Mail headlines and whimpered as we ploughed on, feeling incredibly sorry for myself. Kat Ainsley tried to comfort me by saying our rubber soles would prevent us from being barbecued, but to no avail. It was only when we hit a corner and saw Adam Crowther, drenched through, cowering pitifully under the overgrowth for shelter that we felt a little better. For a little while, we huddled together for warmth hoping the rain would let up, but when it only got heavier we realised it was time to soldier on.

By the time we had lunch at 3pm, we'd covered around 80km and still had 25 more to go. We ate a nutritious late lunch of instant noodle soup and thankfully, by the time we'd dried out a bit, the rain had stopped, so we set off again on the final slug.

Trying to stay positive, we made our way to P'rao, looking forward to a 'hot' shower and some hot food, but upon arrival found that the entire town was fully booked due to a conference for local people about local products.  We were branded unprofessional by the staff for not coming to P'rao 2 days in advance to book a hotel.
Panic set in.

Eventually, we decided to make the journey to Danang- another 65km (in the van, of course) whilst a few brave souls volunteered to stay in the last couple of rooms avaliable in the powerless P'rao.

The longest day so far ended with an Indian curry from and a hot shower. By then, we'd already forgotten what an uphill felt like, but the first EBD definitely lived up to its name.

Words: Sophie O
Photos: Rory

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