HCMC Dining Guide

Friday, April 24, 2015

H2H 2015 Days 15 to 19: Entering the Highlands

Leaving Thanh My there was great excitement among the team, as we had a second rest day ahead of us at our next destination: Kham Duc. Though this was only a 57km leg, it turned into a challenging ride thanks to rising heat and a couple of short, but very steep, climbs at the end. The first 40km or so were manageable, as the terrain was rolling and it hadn't gotten too hot yet. Several of us stopped at a waterfall which proved immensely refreshing - the cold flow left everyone wanting to just start the rest day there.
The final kilometers after the waterfall were challenging, as already mentioned, although I seemed to handle the heat better than most. I had forgotten how tough the last climb was, and most of the team was caught off guard. By the end of the day everyone had learned that a short ride doesn't necessarily make for an easy ride.

Our reward at the end was a fantastic meal by the lake that sits at the start of Kham Duc. Later that evening a group of us attempted to paint the town red since we had the next day off, but small towns don't exactly have much of a night life. Surely some of the residents will have stories to tell of the drunken foreigners staggering down the street at 10pm.
 On the rest day itself I went for a short ride around town just to keep my legs warm, as it seems that my muscles simply shut down if they go a whole day without use. There would be no room for muscle problems the next day, as it was one of the hardest of the whole route. Our second Evil Bitch Day took us 111km from Kham Duc to Ngoc Hoi, with a monster 18km climb thrown in for good measure. We left earlier than usual so that most of the climb would be out of the way before it got too hot, and I reached the mountain with the front pack. We stopped for shade a couple of times, but I felt great on the incline and pushed ahead with Jack, the only rider who can keep up with me on a long climb (he is 3 inches taller and six years younger than me so I'm ok with that). We reached the top, caught our breath and immediately downed several ice-cold Revives.

The huge downhill on the other side of the mountain brought us into the Central Highlands and a change of scenery; we were leaving behind the lush forests of central Vietnam and entering a region of arid sloping hills, where the wind blows constantly and the sun burns relentlessly.

The following days took us through Kon Tum and Pleiku, both relatively large cities that factored prominently in the Vietnam War. On the way to Kon Tum we passed through Dak To, home to a memorial to a major battle fought nearby.

These rides were short, allowing us to reach our destinations while avoiding the afternoon sun. Pleiku is also home to the Thien An Orphanage, which is supported by funding from H2H. We were unable to spend the night as in past years due to the sensitive political situation around the upcoming 40th anniversary of reunification, but we visited in the afternoon and the following morning. I'll cover that in my next post, along with a few more riding days. 

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