Happy Birthday, Rory!
With the most efficient morning gathering in a long time, we set off on time! But not before singing to Rory and dressing him in obligatory birthday attire (see Day 1 or picture below). Although everyone was still nursing aches & pains from yesterday’s slog, we were looking forward to a mere 60km ride, with promises of few to no climbs.
The sun had his hat on & the roads were busier than we’ve experienced recently, with the belligerent beepers back in tow, competing for space with us. As much as they are off-putting with their spluttering exhausts, hot wafts, random rock emptying & trigger-happy honking, it can be really satisfying to ride alongside such a beast of a motorised(!) vehicle & have your seemingly inferior legs carry you up a hill just as effectively, if not more so.
That said, the hills kept to a minimum - though today's road was particularly pothole-infested for the most part of the journey; I had the pleasure of tailing Mike W’s jiggling bottom & many others that juttered past me. Equipment flew left right & centre off my bike & I gave up retrieving my water bottle the third time it left me. It was great to hurtle down the bone-rattling declines knowing that it wasn't sacrificial to a big climb. Colliding with butterflies was surprisingly painful.
We stopped to hydrate halfway, marvelling at how far we’d got in such little time compared to the previous day’s efforts. With 27km to go, we catapulted onto the smoothest tarmac ever to grace our wheels & whizzed on. The lumps & bumps returned at around 15km away from Kon Tum but my focus was on the milestones to Pleiku (our next day’s destination) which read laughable distances of 64, 58 & 54km. My elation was slightly trampled as those wretched rolling hills came into sight.
It didn't matter one bit - we cruised into town before midday, a time at which every one of us had been gasping our way up a mountain 24 hours before. Having checked into a rather lovely lodging for the night, we followed The Steak to “The best bun thit nuong you’ve ever had” & gorged on spring rolls galore. A large helping of rain later, a long night of festivities ensued for young Rory's birthday, at the local billiard's hall which we had to ourselves. After all, we had an easy day ahead of us, right?
Words by: Kat
Photos by: Adam, Conor