Day 9 done! The synchronicity of The Beatles' "Revolution No. 9" is quite appropriate for this stage in the ride, as we all pedaled 90+ k today, our wheels turning and turning, making who knows how many revolutions in our journey from Dong Le to Dong Hoi. It was our first big-k day in a while, and I know that people were a bit apprehensive about spending that much time back on the saddle, especially with the weather being quite bleak and drizzly/rainy. But, to all of our pleasures, the 90k felt more like 70 (I can't believe I say things like that now- only 70k!!!), and the weather has been more of a relief than a hindrance. I feel we are all dreading the heat of the south waiting for us!
I've been holding down the caboose end of this train quite regularly; while I'm getting stronger as the days go by and ever closer to our final destination, I certainly don't feel like I'm getting any faster! I see others along the ride occasionally, usually when there's been some sort of bike malfunction or the unfortunate minor mishap resulting in some scrapes and bruises. Today's victim was Ann Marie, who had her first blow-out during the first 1/4 of the ride. I came upon her and a few others during our first 25k, while we were on a beautiful stretch of highway flanked by some of the most gorgeous country we've come upon so far. I took a short rest with the gang, admired the views, and continued on my way, full-knowing that they'd catch-up with me sooner or later!
I continued on, rocking out to a full course selection of Led Zeppelin- perfect for the misty mountains I was surrounded by. I happened upon Kat a couple of times, each of us snatching moments to shake-out our legs and snap a couple of beautiful landscape shots before resuming our journey. The bulk of my day was spent with (or closely behind) Ann Marie and Sophie Renouf. After changing the flat, these two lovely lasses chose to take Day 9 in stride, which meant I had some company! I don't expect it everyday, but it's nice when it happens. It means there's someone else to look for a toilet with, to share a laugh with, and to take pictures with- like we did when we came upon the (first to our knowledge) meter marker for HCMC!!! It was 1265k- not quite halfway there- but a damn good chunk taken out of it!
Dong Hoi, our destination, is definitely one of the better ones thus far. On the coast (yes- Cali girl is partial to to the sea!) and a town of some size (read:supermarket!!! western food!!), we rolled up at the Moonlight Hotel around 2:30 in the afternoon. With wi-fi and hot showers on hand, and our stock of beer and vodka to last us the next few days, everyone was in good spirits. We loaded up in the passenger van to go for dinner- our first foray eating western food since we left Saigon. Beers, burgers, fries, bolognese....ahhh, it was....just what we needed. A table of us relished reading English print newspapers and played a game of reading interesting (or not) headlines to one another, "cheers-ings" one another after each and every ridiculous headline. Mike "The Steak" Tatarski was tonight's recipient of Mr. Sexy Time, which just means that things are coming round.....full revolution.