A sense of excitement was in the air this morning at our big blue hotel in Cam Lo as everyone dressed in their colorful Hawaiian shirts and thought of the delicious food and relaxing massages awaiting us in Hue (our first, and much needed rest day). We began the morning with our warm up and stretching routine, led by our fitness expert Danny McCance. After a couple of words of encouragement and motivation and a group huddle, we were on the road to our HUEcation!
We had decided the night before to cycle a new route to Hue, which meant safer roads but an added 30k. Safety being a top priority, we didn’t mind and were up for the challenge. Hawaiian shirts blowing in the breeze, the team made quite an exit from the little town of Cam Lo. The ride began through absolutely stunning green hills dotted with small huts and the occasional schoolyard or soccer field. A swarm of green butterflies surrounded Natasha and I as we admired the beauty of the area.
But, of course, it wouldn’t be H2H without a little obstacle thrown at us. Our extremely helpful DHL drivers phoned us to say that there had been a landslide up ahead and no vehicles could pass through. We had no choice but to turn around and take the route we had tried to avoid. Stopped at different points along the road, each team member was informed to wait for the DHL van to collect them and bring them back to Cam Lo to start the ride again (we had decided not to cycle back due to concerns of daylight) For those that had cycled quite far, it was a bit unlucky, but for Danny Walsh, who had stopped for his second banh mi early on, it was a very fortunate situation.
Still in good spirits, we all piled into the van to start the original route. We decided to ride together as a team the whole way because we weren’t sure of the traffic and construction situation on this major highway. So for the 73k to Hue we cycled together, often breaking out into song (probably Madonna) and imagining what food we might eat in Hue (we’d been having the same rice, veg, and meat dishes since the start of the ride). I definitely had a cheeseburger in mind.
We stopped for a quick lunch of the usual rice and choice of meats. For Luke, the only vegetarian on our team, our lunch stops can be a bit disappointing. Today, however, a group of monks, cooking just beside the restaurant, offered him a free vegetarian lunch. Andrea joined him, and afterwards the two wanted to express their thanks for the free food so they helped them clean up and wash the dishes. This might be the only time being a vegetarian in Vietnam has shown its benefits.
I can’t really put into words the feeling of arriving in Hue as a team after such a long a day. We still looked amazing in our vacation attire, although now a bit sweaty, but it was the smiles and sense of achievement on everyone’s faces that was most apparent. We were also reuniting with Caitlin after she had spent some time with Becky in Hanoi. As we cycled to the restaurant she had been waiting in, a Belgian musical group played a song for our arrival (they were in town for the local Hue festival-which happened to take place during our time in Hue). It was such a perfect start to our Hue vacation.
At dinner that night, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of people more excited to eat pizza, cheeseburgers and pasta than our H2H team.
Words by Colette Auger