Friday, 25 April 2014

Day 15: P'rao to Thanh My - A personal win!

We begin the day with our usual stretch routine, this time however, in the court yard of a police station! We jump on our bikes ready to go and right from the start the scenery is beautiful. A nice steady downhill through a big green valley is just what I need to start the day. Battling with a knee injury I’d missed out on the last couple of climbs so I was worried how today would go. I knew we had two climbs ahead of us but only over 51k. I decide to take it slow at the start and use the time to take in the amazing views. It’s in these moments that I really realise where I am! Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to be here.

As I’m deep in thought I roll up to Andrea and Annabel. Oh no, Andrea is crying! She tells us how sad she is that our missing team member, Becky, isn’t here to see all of this. Rob sees girls and tears and decides to cycle on! Caitlin comes to a halt to join us in a mass cuddle and we try to cheer Andrea up. She can’t decide whether to laugh or cry so makes a weird noise in trying to do both! We all end up laughing and make a little video to send to Becky.

 We leave Andrea to take a little moment by her self and Annabel and Caitlin soon break away from me. I continue to take it slow as I notice the first climb approaching… I suddenly see that dreaded 10% incline sign! Nooooo! I get my head down and battle through. Andrea soon comes up behind me and we stick at it together. We make a deal to get through the day together which is a great encouragement for me to keep out of the van. I’m just hoping my knee can hold it together! The climb is steep and soon enough the blazing sun comes out. The good thing about being slow is I’ve always got the van close by to refill my water bottle. 1, 2, 3 bottles later and we get some relief for our thighs with a beautiful downhill ride. It feels good to have that breeze! I love seeing those milestones fly past. “Killing the Ks!” becomes our saying of the day as we sail down the mountains together. The roads are wonderfully quiet and the sounds of birds fill the trees. But then I see it…. That 10% incline sign… Here we go.

I’m so pleased that I got through the first climb that I’m almost excited about the second one. The sun beats down ever hotter and I start to become exhausted. Thank goodness Andrea is there to help me through! We even have to laugh at how much strength its taking just to push that pedal round. For me, it’s all about finding the little pleasures along the way to keep your spirits high. In this case one of them is rolling our tires through fresh buffalo poo. Ahh, the satisfaction!  We pass Caitlin and Helen taking a break from the sun in a rare, tiny patch of shade. We push on as I’m sure I can see the top! Is it the top…? Could it be…?

The sweet relief of down hill! …..Is short lived. Up and up and up we go. Although it’s hard, I’m so proud of myself for getting through it! There’s a beautiful moment where Andrea and I are cycling along the top of the mountain and we are at the same level as all the other mountain tops as far as the eye can see. We got there using just the power of our legs! I can’t believe it. I shed a little tear. All of a sudden we’re rolling down again, this time for real. 11k, 9k, 6k, killing the Ks! With 5k to go all I can imagine is everyone at the end waiting to cheer us in and I feel so grateful that we are doing this as a team. Out of no where we speed past a waterfall and at the same time we pull our brakes. What a treat in this heat! Still clad in our cycling gear we sit under the waterfall laughing and joking.

Only 4k to go. We continue downhill until we reach the town. Full of adrenaline all I am looking for is that yellow van parked up. We see it! I can’t believe my eyes. I did it! I actually did it. My knee held up and Andrea and I arrive at the hotel to all of our team mates cheering. The tears come rolling out and I’m so happy. This was my first full day of riding since 7 days ago. I’m so grateful to Andrea for sticking with me and knowing how much this day meant to me. This will forever be one of the best days of my life.

Words by Alex Spaulding

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