Sorry to post this again. It was hacked so I removed it. No pictures this time. Just text.
Last blog seems like years ago.
I Flew back from Vientiane, the capital of Laos so I could house sit for two weeks starting from 1st August and and lead a charity cycle ride the first few days in September.
When I arrived I got visa on arrival for 15 days. (Basically you can just walk through customs get a stamp at the desk and you have 15 days).
To renew this I had a few options.
Leave Vietnam for a day and on re entry get a new 3 month one. Or, Pay $200 and travel 8 hours is a car to border and back or, pay $400 for a guy to do it all for me. I only had a few days left so chose the latter.
The guy took 10 days to get it sorted and I did wonder who I had given my passport to. It worked out thankfully and now I have a new 3 month visa. I go to Borneo jungle the day before it runs out so on return I should get a new one much cheaper. Less that $60.
You get a stamped piece of paper from travel agent for about $25, then on return you take it to the visa application area at airport. Pay another $25 and get a 3 month stamp in your passport.
I cycled to Da Nang 60k round trip to see the Dragon bridge breath fire. 9pm every Saturday.
Worth a trip if possible. Thousands of people block the roads. Starts prompt at 9 though and only lasts 10-15min so don’t be late.
I have still been taking the Kayak tours which are great fun although lots less as December approaches. Wet season.
I am staying in a very nice place and helping the charity ‘Cycle a difference’ and ‘New Borns Vietnam’ which raises lots of money for Vietnamese new Borns as many die that shouldn’t really need to.
I lead a group in the ride to raise money. 270 miles in three days. Raised $100,000.
Met some great people and had a great 3 days.
The last day of the ride The British ambassador, his wife and the Newzeland ambassador joined us. Had a great conversation with the NZ ambassador at lunch and some weeks later shared one of the British ambassadors cigars at a marathon running event in Sapa. (North Vietnam) a 5 hour bus ride north of Hanoi.
In preparation for the New Born charity ride the other week I rode 60 miles in 3 hours. Got 24th all-time fastest up the Hai Van pass (an iconic climb just a few km north of Da Nang. Very popular with tourists). The climb started 48miles into the ride and ascends 2600 feet so happy with that result. Wanted top 10, I think it’s doable if I can be arsed.
Update on Hai Van Pass – after the charity ride that also went over the Hai Van pass on the final day I have moved up to 16th.
A few weeks ago I was out riding and saw an old (guessing at 80 ish) guy sawing a great big hard wood log, sitting in the dirt with one of them old lumberjack saws two people use but on his own. I stopped, turned round, gave him my water, which he drank happily and sat on the other side of the log and sawed it with him. No language spoken between us. We (well I) cut through it in about 10mins. Bloody hard work and was pissing sweat. Recon he had been there 30 min at least to get through less than a quarter.
Looked like he was praying when I left after a hand shake and a whoop from me once we finally we got through it. Wish I had a picture of him. You wouldn’t believe he was sat there in the dust sawing that log. I hope I’ll see him again one day for another log to saw together.
A funny story.
I went to the shop today and asked for shaving foam in my best Vietnamese and she gave me a small spray. Ok i thought ill go with it, maybe it’s some posh oil based shaving solution. I got back sprayed it on face, tasted really bad but shaved anyway, met my friend Long and asked him what it was?
He said mosquito spray!!!
He laughed more than I did.
Returned to saw a log with the old man a month later. Much to my disappointment he had sawed all the log. He proudly showed a disappointed me a pile of neatly cut logs.
Turned out he was 90 years old!
Had coffee with him and his family. Still very little spoken but seemed to understand each other enough. He spoke fluent French as well as Vietnamese.
Flew to Sapa to watch a good friend run a 70k off road ultra marathon. I also wanted to check the terrain out for a 3 day MTB race I had entered that was using some of the same trails. I also used it as a training opportunity as I flew to Hanoi but cycled 750k back to Dong Ha In 7 days.
Sapa is amazing, beautiful. Cooler. Greener. The hills have been shaped by locals over thousands of years to create the paddy fields that encircle them.
Big night out ended up with phone getting stolen. Lost Icloud account due to some nonsense with Apple but managed to resolve it after 3 months.
Lost a bit of interest in blog and stopped it. Pissed off I had lost all my pictures of trip etc.
In November I had an idea pop into my head. I was actually sat in the Borneo rain Forest at the time I thought to text a friend I had met very early on after crossing the border into Vietnam asking for an old number I had back then. She sent it to me and It was the number I needed to get my account back!
I entered a Mountain bike stage race. (Remember I mentioned the reason I was in Sapa).
Vietnam Mountain Bike Marathon. (VMBM). Stage 1.
Got 2nd today. First in 40 plus. 2 min down with a terrible start. Having it tomorrow. 70k. Think it will take 4 hours 30 min. Today was 40k. 2 hours. Riding was great. Bit slippery to start but dried out. Should be dusty tomorrow ????????
I have missed the mountain bike ????????
VMBM Stage 2.
70k, 5800ft of climbing. 3hours 50min at race pace. Very hard. Hot, bumpy and steep.
After a rough nights sleep for no particular reason stage 2 started an hour transfer away at Topas Lodge.
I thought it would start a little more steady than the 40k stage yesterday but no! Got dropped on the first climb. Felt ok riding hard in fourth.
Then the climb came. Well the ‘ACTUAL’ climb. 15k and once at the top it was up and down. When I say up and down I mean UP and a little down now and then.
I cracked after 2:30. I could keep riding ‘fast touring’ but no longer actually at race pace.
Everything was hurting. I didn’t even look forward to the last downhill as my back, neck, triceps and legs hurt. Dehydration set in. I crossed the line having almost killed a kid, chicken, piglet and snake and having almost been killed by a pig, water buffalo, moped and truck. I felt like I was going to faint. (Seriously no joke)! A tough day. Only dug that deep a few times. Today was one.
Lost the yellow for age group and slipped to 4th overall. As I said, today was a hurting day.
VMBM final stage 3.
A shorter course today. 26k
More technical than the other stages in parts. Slippery too.
The start was fast again but this time I was to blame. I felt good today. I led the first climb out and got a gap early with the overall leader. We battled with positions a while but eventually Fraser got away.
The course was great fun and the last climb was the steepest of the whole event. I closed a little on the leader early on the climb but lost the gain along the slightly less steep part of the climb at the top towards the finish line.
Got 2nd in stage and 1st in age group today, unfortunately didn’t make enough time up to move up in the over all standings but was happy to be able to press Fraser a bit today.
Over all after three stages: 2nd in age group. 4th overall.
Good racing, great people, beautiful scenery and very hard. Met some great people
Loved it !
Thanks to my Sponsors:
Hot Lines U.K.
Result VMBM 2016
Next adventure is 2 weeks camping in the pristine triple canopy rain forest in Borneo !!
The forest clears your mind a bit I think. Well that and no beer helps you out. (Muslim religion).
Two weeks in jungle with no beer. Tough!
I did it last year and it’s one of the most amazing places on the planet. Extremely hostile to most but seems to be nice to me. Maybe I have been lucky so far.
After jungle I landed in Ho Chi Minh city. Caught ferry to Vung Tau, borrowed a bike, kit and raced a local event with my friend Matt who I had met at the race in Sapa. I won which was great after being off the bike for s while !
Flew home to see family and friends.
Returned to Hoi An, Vietnam.
Now I am preparing to ride again. Through Vietnam , Laos, Thailand and Nepal.
At the moment in Vietnam it’s the lunar New Year, (Tet). People party every day for two weeks I went to 4 parties yesterday a couple the day before and there is one every day until the 26 January.
Not sure what day it is right now or if I’ll ever manage to get on the bike and leave.
Keep following to find out if I make it.