Saturday, 29 April 2017

Day 24: Amazing Scenery but a Mangy Shelter

Today was very relaxing, a mere 50 kilometers or so. After a leisurely wake up and lovely breakfast we stretched and hit the road. Our first stop was right around the corner; a bike-themed coffee shop owned by friends of our bike mechanic.

The coffee was awesome, and I picked up some audacious shades! 

After our caffeine fix we carried on. We were still well in the central highlands and I enjoyed the scenery. It reminded me of the Hollywood Hills crossed with the New Mexican desert. Sparse vegetation dotted the hills, with an occasional fir tree sending its lovely scent wafting over the road.

I pedaled slowly, intent on enjoying the ride; I also didn’t want to push too hard knowing the following day was going to be a tough one! I’ve been enjoying reading the blog posts from riders of years past, and they made me quite wary of the following day.

With our slow pace we found time to hang out along the way, of course. Here’s a few pictures from the ride and a rest stop.

As I teetered along, listening to my tunes, I found myself in the midst of a valley.

It was wholly unique compared to all the valleys that had come before, and I really enjoyed the big open fields with cows lazily chewing cud, nosing around for the few bits of grass that hadn’t already been decimated by their family members.

All good things must end, and I found myself arriving into town around noon, despite my leisurely pace. There were two hotels today, and I was the first to sign up for ‘the second one’ as it came to be known. The second one had…character. I made a good show of bellyaching about the weird smells and dirty rooms, but at the end of the day the internet was fast and the fan wasn’t too noisy.

I spent the afternoon watching TV on my laptop, still saving energy in preparation for the next day’s ride. For lunch there was a lovely vegetarian rice place, and for dinner Rhiannon and I found a packed bánh xèo place. We learned later that rather gruff proprietors had turned away some of our fellow teammates earlier! I felt honored to have been permitted to sample the goods, and they were quite delicious—the owners made fun of us for how many we ate! Fat westerners, we!

Afterwards we had a team meeting around the corner from the hotels. The sense of merriment and jollity is at an all time high to me. There’s lots of joking around and needling amongst each other. It was surprising we ever even decided upon a time to wake up the next day.

With the ‘paperwork’ finished, we headed our separate ways. I headed to bed where I read until it was time to turn off the lights.

A wonderful day on the ride, and the time flies by faster and faster!

--Eli Gaultney


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