HCMC Dining Guide

Saturday, February 18, 2012

H2H Day 16: The Road Fights Back

We had another short ride today, just 57km from Thanh My to Kham Duc, but the weather looked foreboding when we woke up. Things only got worse as we rode out of town, and everyone was soaking wet from the chilly, steady rain within minutes. This day would be a fairly violent one.

I was riding just behind Joe about 15km into the trip when he drifted dangerously close to the concrete gutter on the right side of the road, lost control on the slick surface, and went down in a heap. The crash looked nasty, with his bike sliding into the gutter and his chin smacking onto the road, but fortunately he only suffered a few small scrapes, in addition to getting covered in mud. Incidents like this illustrate how we've really coalesced as a team over these past two weeks, as several riders immediately stopped and began administering first aid.

The miserable weather precluded me from taking many pictures, but I did get one of a cool waterfall. 
Things got really interesting about 12km from Kham Duc. I was working my way up a hill and noticed that the cars and trucks up ahead were stopped. I could see our lead support van as well, and one of the drivers flagged me down. I thought there may have been a mudslide, since we were on some pretty steep terrain and the ground was soaked. However, he informed me that there had been an accident, and told me to start walking my bike. I ambled past a few more vehicles, rounded a corner, and was confronted with the carnage: a car was overturned on its roof in the ditch, and farther up a truck was laying on its side, completely blocking both lanes. Glass and plastic body paneling was strewn across the road. I didn't see any injured people, so I guessed it must have been a while since the crash, and there was quite a crowd of people gawking at the mess.

I had to carry my bike along a grassy ledge around the accident before I could get back on the road, and started cycling again. Sites like that are frightening, and reminded all of us of how careful we need to be on this ride, especially on mountain roads in treacherous weather conditions.

On a more positive note I knew there wouldn't be any motor vehicle traffic coming up behind me, since anything bigger than a motorbike was stuck, allowing me to feel a little safer for the remaining 12km. Sadly, this also meant our support vans, with all of our belongings, were out of reach as well.
I saw another dam along the way, and after seeing two yesterday it is obvious that this is hydropower country.
The low clouds and mist did make for some awesome landscapes. This one looks straight out of 'Lord of the Rings'.
I was the fourth person to arrive in Kham Duc, and we started gathering at a restaurant while ordering a steady feast. We were all soaked to the bone and freezing cold, but there was no way to dry off or warm up with all of our stuff in the vans held up by the crash. As the others streamed in I found out that two more people had gone down on the road: Dana managed to get her tires stuck in an expansion joint, and when she tried to get out she wiped out. Corey, her dad, was right behind her and crashed when he hit her fallen bike. Fortunately, once again, both were fine.

The van drivers called us about an hour after we started eating and informed us that the road had been cleared, and they were on their way. We were overjoyed, sorted out the hotel rooms, got our stuff, and reveled in the pleasure of a hot shower. Day 16 was over, thankfully, but tomorrow we have a 104km ride, probably in similar weather conditions, so we'll see how that goes.

ALSO: If you'd like to donate to H2H and help poor Vietnamese children, please visit: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/michaeltatarski/bikeride. Most of the other riders have received donations during the ride, which provides motivation and reminds them of why we're doing this. I haven't gotten a single one, so I'm lookin' for some love. Come on people!

1 comment:

  1. Whew, Mike. Sounds like quite a day. You're getting some really nice pics. Yall be careful!