Day 19 began like no other ride day, with a much appreciated sleep-in. The ride was to be short, only 49km over relatively flat terrain and so it had been decided that we could set off in the afternoon. My body clock, however, did not get that message and I arose from my slumber at the usual time of 6:00 am. I treated myself to a bath and then went back to sleep for another couple of hours. The rest of the morning proceeded in a more typical fashion; cooking up a steaming bowl of porridge, gulping down a hot coffee and all the while listening to my five roommates belt out some classics from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Andrea Bocelli.
With our stomachs and vocal chords satisfied we proceeded with our routine warm-up led by drill sargent Danny MacCance. As usual we found an open space in the shade to will our muscles back into life. With our muscles nicely warmed-up we set of from Kom Tum to our destination Pleiku. The road there was short and mostly sweet; long stretches of smooth-as-silk newly laid tarmac punctuated by short bumpy sections still under construction. There were no major climbs, but instead a ribbon of rolling hills all the way. Being a short day and no lunch stop planned I rode by myself for most of the day, wanting to finish before the anticpated storm opened up above our heads. I was about 15 km from the finish when I felt the first drops on my face. Luckily it didn't pour in true monsoon style and instead I was treated to a light shower that served to cool me down and drive me quicker towards the finish.
I arrived in Pleiku ahead of most riders, a rare occurance for me, and so treated myself to a glass of the excellent local coffee. The team re-grouped in the city and then found a hotel. Usually it would be at this point that we would sink a couple of beers, congratulate each other on a job well done and settle into a hotel. However, this day would finish like no other ride day. We were to be picked up by nuns from a local orphange which is partly funded by H2h donations. This would be a great chance for the team to see the effect our donations have on the charities and children it support.
We arrived at the orpahange in the evening and instantly the team was impressed. Lush gardens and rice paddies surround the modern building and this helped to create an idyllic and peaceful environment for the 100 children staying there. The 14 nuns had arranged for us to meet and play games with 60 of the orphans in a newly built sports hall. The overall experience was uplifting for the team and we got to hear first hand how some lives had been turned around by the work of the nuns and our donations. We heard how some older orphans got scholarships for universities in America and then returned to teach there. By the end of the night the team was throughly exhausted by the ride and the evenings festivities. We all went to bed with tired bodies but warm hearts.