Sunday, 20 April 2014

Thank you DHL!

This blog entry is about some of the most important members of the H2H team, Thuong, Thang, Thuan and Tuan, the DHL van drivers.

The lads
Before H2H started, I understood that we would have two support vans, one at the back and one at the front of our ride, to carry luggage, help direct the route, and pick up any cyclists who were having problems. Whilst we were deeply grateful for their presence, I think many of us assumed that the drivers would simply be there as a precaution, a safety measure to make sure the group was on the right track.
Thang reclines in front of his welcome sign in the tunnel on Evil Bitch Day 1

In reality, the drivers have proven to be a crucial, integral part of the team, without whom we simply would not have been able to get this far. We are currently halfway through the ride and have already faced immense crises in which the drivers’ knowledge and pragmatism have been central in finding solutions.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6.45AM

On a practical level, the guys have helped with a range of issues. Whether it’s rerouting to safer roads, marking turn offs, providing water, or finding decent lunch spots, they’ve been more than happy to provide their assistance, and in many cases they’ve helped to keep things moving as smoothly as possible. They even took us to Phong Nha cave, a five hour round trip after a day of cycling that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise!

To compile a list of all the helpful things the guys have done would make this blog entry quite long; what follows is a pretty significant example of what a difference they make to the running of things on H2H.

When Becky suffered her injury, the severity of the situation and distance to the nearest hospital meant that ambulances were a long wait away. Those who were on the scene have explained how Thuan and Tuan acted without hesitation, turning their vehicle around and transporting Becky to the nearest medical center. They provided continuous assistance throughout the unfolding situation, shuttling riders and bikes back to the hotel, helping to get passports and documents to hospitals and police stations, even volunteering to find local taxi services to take Becky’s belongings to Hanoi. It goes without saying that their help during that horrible time was invaluable.

In addition to the practical support the DHL guys have given, we have all become good friends with them. Plying us with rice wine, cooking up the occasional BBQ, pumping Vietnamese dance anthems and giving us a few games of beach football, they’ve spent a lot of their downtime with us, and we’ve all had great fun together. From the very beginning the guys have been happy, friendly, and supportive to every member of the team, cheering us on and high fiving us as we rolled in to towns. These are the kind of small gestures that make the cycling even more enjoyable!

So please, spare a thought for the fellas in the vans - they go wherever we go, except they’re behind the wheel of a slow moving van, every day, for as long as we cycle. They make this thing possible and do it with constant enthusiasm and willingness to help wherever they can. Let’s raise a glass of the finest rice wine to Thuong, Thang, Thuan and Tuan. Mot, hai, ba, YO!

Words/photos by Matt

1 comment:

  1. Great post - the van drivers are definitely the unheralded heroes of every ride. Although it's a shame Mr. Cuong and his white van, both of whom took part in the past two rides, aren't there!