HCMC Dining Guide

Thursday, March 1, 2012

H2H Day 27: The Big City Awaits

The final day of the ride was a 107km cycle from Dinh Quan to Saigon, the finishing point of our 2,000km month-long odyssey. Once everyone set off it was back in the rear support van for me, thanks to my incredibly painful quadriceps. 

We had left early to ensure that we would arrive in the city at 2:30, the time we told all of our friends to meet us, but everyone rode very quickly, and smashed through 30km in no time. We had about 5 hours to cover just 70km, so the riders decided to start taking breaks every 15 or 20km. 

Once we got onto Highway 1 it became obvious that we were approaching the country's largest city: traffic was extremely dense, and the factories and industrial parks of Saigon's outskirts were proof of the metropolis's economic importance.
The van caught up with everyone else at the foot of the Saigon Bridge, which connects District 2 to Binh Thanh District. We were all ecstatic to be so close to the end. One of the drivers from DHL (who was our main sponsor) met us with a motorbike, and I hopped on the back with my camera, as well as the team video camera.

rollin' into Saigon
We stopped in front of the zoo for one last regroup before rolling down Le Duan to our grand finish at the gates of the Reunification Palace. I was not going to miss this, so I had popped a bunch of painkillers and slathered some Deep Heat on my legs in preparation for the pain I knew was coming.
We headed off down the street and my legs starting hurting almost immediately. As we passed the American and British consulates, the ANZ tower, and Diamond Plaza I could hear the other riders hooting and hollering as the drivers around us wondered what the hell was going on. I, however, was in complete and utter agony.

Once we got within a block of the palace pain was flooding every nerve in my body and I was on the verge of vomiting. I seriously considered just falling off my bike in the middle of the road, but the encouraging cheers of a few of the riders pushed me to the gate, where I immediately collapsed in a heap of white-hot agony on the oven-hot asphalt. While everyone celebrated and hugged the people who had come to greet us, I was splayed out on the ground, barely able to talk after riding less than 2km.

I had to move to the sidewalk after a security guard told me buses were trying to park, so I hobbled over and laid back down. The upside of being incapacitated was that I got a lot of attention: at one point I had Rhona and Dana holding ice on my thighs, Zara feeding me a hamburger, Sandra rubbing my shoulders, and Johnny fanning me with a flag. Quinn also handed me part of a Whopper, and one of the riders from last year gave me a donut.
However, I knew that I needed to see a doctor now that I was back in a place that has proper medical facilities, so after finally standing up and thanking some of the people who had shown up to congratulate us, I headed to a Western clinic. After getting an ultrasound on both thighs I was informed that I had no muscle tears, which surprised me when I recalled the debilitating pain I had been in just a few hours earlier, but that both quadriceps were badly pulled. I was given some medicine and told to rest, as I already knew.

After going home for the first time in a month and showering in my own bathroom I met back up with the team at Mogambo's, a Western restaurant on Pasteur, for our last group dinner. I had an awesome meatball sub and a piece of blueberry pie with ice cream for dessert.

I had hoped to have a late night with some of the other riders, but that brutal, albeit very short, ride from the zoo to the palace had completely drained me, so I headed back home around 11. The ride was over, it was time to sleep.

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