HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, April 28, 2013

H2H 2013 Days 20 & 21: Going downhill

The 80km ride from Ea Drang to Buon Me Thuot (BMT) was unremarkable, for the most part. The rough roads I had remembered from last year seemed even rougher, with severely potholed roads leading to bone-shattering riding, and moronic drivers causing numerous close calls. Luckily the weather was nice, and we made good progress to Buon Ho, where we had a drink and a quick bite to eat before carrying on.
Buon Ho is home to one of the most beautiful churches I've seen in Vietnam.
The last 20km into BMT were brilliant, on a beautifully-paved, mostly empty road that allowed us to simply smash the distance. We convened at the KFC at the edge of the city and pigged out on shitty chicken before heading to our hotel and beginning our second (and final) rest day. That night consisted of a good Vietnamese meal and a sprawling search for a karaoke with English songs. Horrific singing ensued. The following day saw little more than most of us lazing around the pool at the 3-star hotel down the street. 

Riding day 21 soon arrived, and I was nervous. Last year I badly pulled my left quad shortly after leaving BMT, relegating me to the rear support van for the remaining five days. I still don't know why that happened,  and the incident was on my mind as we headed out on the short, 49km ride down to Lien Son.

I felt fine at first but, sure enough, about 15 minutes in I started to feel a frighteningly familiar sensation in my left leg. I shifted into a low gear and tried to pedal out of it, but the pain wasn't going away. I stopped and waited for a few minutes, but I could tell things weren't improving. In disbelief and pure frustration I threw my bike into the van and took a seat, wondering how the hell this could be happening again. I had been crushing most of the ride, feeling fresh every day, and my legs felt fantastic. I was in great shape and felt confident that I could handle the rest. Now here I was stuck in a motorized vehicle again, completely disheartened. Considering how much work I put into organizing and leading H2H this year I felt even worse than in 2012. The fact that I wasn't able to finish last time was a big motivating factor in my decision to ride again, yet here I was facing the exact same goddamn problem. Unbelievable. The team was just as shocked as me.
Everyone else cruised through the ride and we arrived at Lak Resort in Lien Son, where we had stayed last year. Located on Lak Lake and with a pool on the grounds, we were excited to have a full afternoon here. Unfortunately, this turned into a perfect example of the joke that is Vietnam's service industry. The pool was empty thanks to a drought; there was no wi-fi in the rooms (though it said there was); there were no TV channels; and the restaurant had been moved 800 meters away. We asked for a discount, since the rooms cost around $15 a person and we were getting no amenities, but of course they said no. We made the easy decision to simply leave, perfectly unsatisfied by another encounter with the tourism sector. After settling into a hotel down the road we spent the afternoon relaxing and shooting the shit. I was still amazed that I had suffered an injury again, but the team camaraderie really helped me stay positive. Unfortunately this wouldn't last long, as the following day would turn into my absolute worse since moving to Vietnam.

In other news, I haven't shaved since H2H began a month ago, and I'm sporting a pretty thick beard. I am $170 away from meeting my goal of raising $2,000 for H2H this year, and I will let whoever puts me over that amount decide which facial hair style I should sport once I start shaving the beard. To donate please visit: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/michaeltatarski/h2h-charity-bike-ride-2013.

And don't forget to check out the team blog, it's a good one this year: http://www.h2hrfvc.blogspot.com/

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