Monday, 13 April 2015

Day 7: Huong Khe to Quy Dat

H2H Injury Update: After an injury report in our previous post, the 2015 team is gutted to announce that rider Rebecca Richardson has also returned to Saigon for medical treatment. On Day 7 Bex came off her bike at a railroad crossing at the bottom of a hill and landed in a heap. She was taken to the nearest major hospital immediately and flew to Saigon a couple of hours later. She is receiving excellent care there and is expected to heal up well. We're sad to see Bex leave the ride, but she remains with us in spirit and we can't wait to see her at the finish line in Saigon. If you'd like to speed up her recovery process by donating to H2H via her fundraising page, please do so here:

Day 7 began overcast but dry, which left everyone in good spirits. Chris G. gave a rousing sendoff to Bekah Round, who was being taken to the Dong Hoi airport, before we headed off for a 70km cycle to Quy Dat, a new stop on the H2H route. The first roughly 50km were through familiar territory though, as we headed to Dong Le, a good lunch stop.

We stayed on the beautiful Ho Chi Minh Highway for a bit before turning off onto a smaller, but very fun, road. We raced over the undulating hills through scruffy villages with little traffic on the road. A tough climb about 26km in got everyone's legs burning, but the view at the top was worth it.
After that it was a rollicking, occasionally bumpy blast to Dong Le, with plenty of high-fives and hellos from children along the way. Jack and I even raced the train at one point when it pulled up along the tracks that parallel the road. The front pack stopped for some amazing chicken curry in Dong Le, and I received the upsetting news of Bex's accident while there. It was decided that she would be rushed ahead to Dong Hoi, the nearest major city, in the rear van, along with co-leader Chris Rolls and Carolyn, one of our first-aid reps. This meant we would only have one support van for the remaining 20km to Quy Dat.

Everyone was a bit shaken, but we saddled up and decided to stick together. The rest of the ride was challenging but gorgeous. We knew there were two more climbs, and they were tough, although the following downhills were adrenaline-fueled rushes.

 With 6km to go before reaching town we thought we were done with climbs, but as we passed the DHL van the drivers indicated that there was one more very steep one. They weren't kidding. Short but with a vicious incline, this left everyone breathing hard, and we were then left even more breathless by the views on the other side. We were near Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, one of the most incredible areas of Vietnam. It sits on a giant limestone plateau which extends deep into Laos, and the scenery is dramatic.

 We rolled into Quy Dat a bit later than anticipated, but everyone was in good spirits, all things considered. This had been a tough day, both physically and psychologically, but the team really pulled together and looked out for one another. As one of the team leaders I couldn't have been prouder of how the group reacted. And just check out the hotel view:
 Later that evening the group which had gone to Dong Hoi with Bex met up with us, and we were ready to take on the next day.

Words & pictures by Mike Tatarski

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