Monthly Archives: May 2015

Mad dugs and cyclists

Bags out, breakfast and mount up from the hotel!  Todays first ride was a nice and easy 10 miler around the bay East Nuek with sun!  App 1000 ft of climb and an average speed of 14.3 mph.  Nice and cool with a breeze from the water.  Then it was on the bus and a 3 hour drive to our lunch stop on Highway No 1 95% of which looks and feels like it is still under construction!

A meat broth was served as out main course followed by sticky rice and mangoes nice and light for what was ahead of us.  We left the cafe at just after 1 and it was like riding in a furnace we had 34 miles to complete and the guide decided that stops should be every 6 miles instead of 12.  The route was “fairly flet” just 1500 ft of climb in the distance but in the heat it was just torture.  We were taking full advantage of water and isotonic drinks at every stop.  Even the guide was feeling the pace as he jumped in the truck for the last 12 miles.  

  
It was a bit more  successfull today with 9 riders doing the full mileage and 1 coming from the bus to do the final stretch.  After some snacks, a celebratory beer and a quick frechen up it was back on the bus for the 45 minute ride to our next destination the seaside resort of Qui Nohn and the Seagull hotel.

My room was on the 10th floor with sweeping views across the bay.  The rest of the party met at 7pm for food and drinks I decided that I had other stuff to do and decided not to join them but to have an early night.

Rest day, run, boat trip and a wander round the shops.

I was wakened at 5;30 by traffic noise 9 floors below and a glimse of the sun rising through the curtains.  I took a look out the window at the beach and it was mobbed with early morning exercisers and fun seekers!  Not to be outdone I put my kit on and went out for an early morning run just 3 miles but it was enough.

 After a leisurely almost European breakfast we got on the bus and headed to Nha Trang harbour to catch our boat.  

 The harbour was busy with tourist boats either heading out to the local water park or, like us, a spot to swim and have a lazy relaxing day under blue skies.

First stop was a small island community who made thier living from the sea or tourists.  we walked through the main village to the other side and boarded coracles.  

  Although a small island, it took us about 15 mins to walk across it, it has 4 schools catering to over 400 children from 2-14 when they go to high school they get boats across to the mainland.

    Proceeding from the island we passed under the 3K long cable car to the theme park.

We reached a spot the cap’n deemed suitable, donned cossies and snorkelling gear and took to the refreshingly cool waters.  Lunch was served on board and afterwards we upped anchor and headed back to the hotel and some free time.

I had a rough guide with me and it had mentioned  The Cyclo Cafe a few minutes walk from where we were staying so when we returned to the hotel I set off to find it and with everyones agreement book a table for us to enjoy pizza!! pasta and beer! The food was good, beer was on a happy hpurr and the bill was split 10 ways with no problems!  The walk back was to include an ice cream BUFFET  I had passed in the afternoon unfortunately I could not find it and we ended up in The Puppet Theatre  which was a laugh a minute and resulted in not many of us getting what we wanted!  So to bed.

   

Hotter than hell!

A start direct from the hotel this morning and a wee city tour ending up at the rail station for a look at a Swiss locomotive which helped the Vietmanese build thier rail network.

That was the only pleasent piece of the day!  Ghain the guide was determined to get as many as poss to do 100K today good plan as tomorrow is a rest day and the route inc a 43K descent, however the 30-34 degrees temp that the final 18K was done in was not in the plan!  The day followed the usual routine a couple of stops in the morning followed by a drive to the top of a mountain and then the 43k descent.  At the top it was nice and cool but as you progressed down the hill the temp just rose and rose, at one time I swear I could smell the tar as the road melted!  We stopped for lunch at a cafe attd to a petrol station and even here the food was great esp a pork dish.  We finished our meal and rested for a little while as we were starting the final leg from the petrol station.

This final milage was split into two with a break midway.  The heat was really effecting riders now and only four of us left for the last k’s.  Ghian is from the Taylor school of flet and in this last leg we climbed 1200 feet and had a headwind to contend with.

The final rider in, Russ, was quiet a bit back and we were begining to worry as at the last stop he hadnt looked very healthy at all.  But he made it!

Everyone rehydrated we climbed on the bus this time for a relitively short journey to our digs in Nha Trang.  The hotels in this trip have all been good and this was no exception with a pool and its own private beach.  After some rest and a freshen up we went out for dinner to thr Nha Trang yacht club great place good cocktails and amazing food!   So to bed.

 
 

Holiday organisation, relaxed start to the day,  hairy descents and Da Lat city.

This combined GW and HCM trail cycling holiday is the first time I have done a packaged sport type holiday generally I will organise everything by myself but to enter the GW you have to go as part of an organised group and for this part of the holiday I went with Sports tours Int with Albatross Adventures being the overall organisers of the GW marathon. Everything went smoothly and apart from a few early rises there was nothing to complain about.  The hotels were good the race was hard but well oganised and the Ball at the end was good fun.

The HCM trail cycle is with Exodus holidays partly from a personal rec (always the best) and artly through research.  We are only a few days in so it might be a bit early to comment too much but the staff are good, the riding is good as well but subject to change due to local conditions, and the day to day organisation is slick.

I organised the combined flight pakage on my own and that was through STA in Edinburgh travel out went like clockwork as did the flight from China I cant believe I have only a week left!  As always it will be good to be home and thx to FB, Flickr, wordpress and instagram there will be loadsa memories of a great holiday.

Today we are starting from the hotel breakfast at 6 and the plan is to set off at 7:30 which means its time to move.

This morning was the hottest day so far.  We set off in a group as the first 5k or so was through the city some of the riding was pretty hairy just as well we never knew what was ahead!  We cycled through urban and rural areas with our regular stops it actually got cooler as we headed upwards and into a headwind.  28 miles with 1073 ft climbed.  We stopped at a hilltop cafe for coffee and lunch which was fruit, soup and chicken with sticky rice.  We climbed back into the bus and was dropped off about 45 mins later with another 11 miles to go on an undulating route!  The ascents were not too bad, the worst was 10%, and the descents were great if a little hairy due to the Vietmanese drivers habit of driving in the middle of the road!  

Da Lat city has quite a bit of French influence in its buildings and is a favoured resort with Vietmanese holidaymakers.  It has a lovely city centre with a lake and swan like pedalos for hire.  Well known for agri and horti culture it producesa vast array of veg and flowers.  There is a busy morning market as well.

Time for a blast, garlands, luxury resort and home cooking. 

Another early rise today bags packed on bus and away for 7.  We really are getting quite practiced at this now.  We travelled north and picked the bikes up just outside HCMC.  We stayed as a group till the traffic thinned then Laura and I pushed on ahead.  The roads were not very good for some of the ride and a few of the group, that were not very experienced were not happy bikers!  After 20K we stopped for fluid and snacks and then climbed back on our bikes.  We stopped at a farm and the farmer showed us his crops- cashews, coffee, cocoa and pepper then we were on our way again another 20K and a stop for more fluid and snacks the regular topping up of fluids is required as its so hot you continually sweat.

Although I had taken the opportunitty to put the boot down I was taking in the countryside which was lush and mainly consisted of rubber plantations.  Little villes cropped up at regular intervals and even the tattiest cafe advertised free wifi oh have I mentioned we have wifi on the bus!  As well as villes there are regular retail outlets by the roadside from proper shops to people selling fruit from a moped.  Our tour guide got quite wound up when he explained these people pay no taxes and can make more than me!

The cycle today was 34 miles with 1250ft of climbing av speed was 15 mph compared to yesterdays 12,5.

Our guide was at pains to let us know that the  hotel we were using tonight was a special one off and that the others on the trip would not be up to the same standard!  We were met at the door with floral garlands and a drink and we walked out onto the terrace o view the 4 swimming pools and the beach front! 

  Once my bag was delivered to the room I got changed and went for a run along the beach just 3 miles but it was good!  

The evening meal was at a family run restaurant by the sea with half the menu swimming in tanks before you!  An excellent meal and a few beers set us back about £10!  Tomorrow we are biking from the hotel so although breakfast starts at 6 we dont need to be ready to leave till 7:30.  Nite all.

Bikes, Cu Chi tunnels and final night in HCMC

Up bright and early and out the door for 7am.  The bus is an air conditioned oasis and with only 12 of us there is room to spare!  We were driven to a spot outside the city where our bikes were waiting on us.  Giant Ravels and all in good nick.  After a few minutes and an M check on each bike we were off.  Our guide was in front and we strung out behind him.  The road was quite busy but thankfully not as frenetic as the city.  We stopped after 12 miles for drinks and snacks and then headed off on the final 6 miles to the tunnels.  We were not goin fast averaging about 12mph but it was enough to feel a cooling breeze on your brow.  We arrd at the tunnels and followed our guide as he presented our tickets and we followed him along a well worn path.  He explained the history of Cu Chi and the tunnels and showed us hidden entrances.  We watched a documentary film about the American agressors being soundly whipped by the heros of Vietnam!

After the film we made our way deeper into the jungle and finally reached the tunnels.  They have been widened to allow tourists access and inside the tunnels was stifling we went into 2 a 30 meter long tunnel accompanied by a bat and a 100m long tunnel by the end of the 100m one sweat was dripping from my chin it was stifling!   

 

We had some food in one of the bunkers and headed for the bus via  a display of clothes making, bomb recycling and sandal production a display of gruesome booby traps rounded the visit off!

  

We got back on the bus and headed to HCMC via a stop for lunch at a roadside cafe.

Another early start tomorrow so it was food, packing and bed!

 

Room move, Vietmanese “Brew Dog”, 

Today is the day that the rest of the group arrive that I will be cycling the HCM trail with.  I had to move rooms as I am sharing rooms this trip my room mate is a Scouse physio currently residing in Plymouth called Dominic.  After we had got unpacked and settled we went out for some sight seeing and found a pub called The Pasteur Brewing Co which brews its own ales.I had a nice refreshing IPA flavoured with fruit and Jasmine 3% an excellent brew!

After our little repast we went to the  Reunification Palace and spent about 2 hours wandering around the rooms and watching a film of the palace and its role in Siagons past.

   
  

At 6::30 we were to meet in the lobby of the hotel so  with an hour to spare I nipped up to the gym and did resistance work and stretches.

Everyone duly convened  for introductions and an updated itinerary.  A mixed crew-2  couples from Australia, 1 couple from Carslisle with a little cycling experience, a couple from London that had cycled quite a bit in hot climates, a  man from Cambridge a woman from Coventry with limited experience and Domonic and I.  We were then taken out for food in a family run restaurant  near the hotel then back to bed for our 6am rise.