next morning we left early for the most epic ride of the tour and
it was... raining. At least the temperature was warm and it felt
good to be on the road. As we left the city the road was scattered
with large puddles and hundreds of potholes caused by the flooding.
Weaving and flats would be in order for those who had brought their
racing bikes. My mountain bike felt slow, but handled well over
the bumps, ruts and wet road. When I reached our bus up the road
I was told they had been unable to catch Horst or maybe he had stopped
along the way? The closer we got to Hai Van the more the rain and
wind worsened and climbing up there was still repair work going
on to fix the sections that had slid during the previous month.
The 6-mile climb was slow going and wind from the southern typhoon
whipped the top but by the time I crested the summit only three
riders had had enough and were drying off in the van.
down the Hai Van I caught up with Jim who had flatted again. It
was like the tortoise and the hare with the flats slowing him down.
We slogged on together with his wife Debbi but they soon left me
behind. As the flat miles wore on I would occasionally find a local
on a bicycle who wanted to "dua" - or race - and let them
get ahead of me so I could draft off their wheel. I was really struggling
now but soon ran into Jim who had flatted again. We rode the last
ten miles into Hoi An together which was a very long and very wet
the stairs in front of the hotel was Horst, draped in towel with
his hands high in the air in a victory salute. The oldest rider
on the tour - 30 years on at least a few of us - had finished alone
2 hours before. It was the fastest anyone on the tour had ever done
this ride. What a champione!
bus pulled in shortly but Minh, Sinh, and Dunh had grim looks on
thier faces. We had lost Tim. Sinh grabbed a motorbike and headed
back up the road towards Da Nang to see if he was along the route
still and had just been missed. But a half an hour later he called
from Da Nang with a negative. It was not until another hour that
Tim came rolling in - still on the bike after 8 hours. He said he
had passed Hoi An and went about ten miles further down Highway
One before turning back turning our long ride into a longer century.
scrubbed and warmed up we enjoyed a delicious meal at Miss Ly's
- Ichibod described it as the best food he had eaten so far although
a half-day on the bike can make food taste awfully good. But the
real treat was Hoi An - always the favorite stopover. Although tourism
and tailoring are now Hoi An's largest business, replacing furniture
making, the town has been preserved. So much so it has been declared
a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Not only has the town survived
the recent flooding - the worst since 1964 - but it's unique, old
wooden houses show little damage. Aside from architecture and a
scenic setting on the riverfront, Hoi An's people are wonderfully
friendly and the food is some of the best in Vietnam.
weather remained constant for the next few days, spilling more rain
down, often in heavy sheets that were loud enough to wake you up
at night. Everyone was content to eat well and shop for tailored
clothes in between exploring the fascinating maze of shops within
Hoi An. We also sampled Cao Lao Soup -- a pork soup served only
in Hoi An -- of which one bowl is never enough. Ichibod said it
was the perhaps the best food he had ever eaten.
16-day bicycling tour by twelve Americans and Canadians involved
traveling the length of Vietnam, from Hanoi to Saigon, with plenty
of time to stop and see the uniqueness of the cities and people
along the way. Although cyclists ranged in ability from beginner
to champion racer, all found a way to explore Vietnam at their own
pace and in the best way possible -- as most locals do -- on two
diary was written and updated each day during the trip as it happened
during the tour according to the perspective of the author who makes
no claims of accuracy to the events happening as described herein.
Hoi An had built a new simming pool which mocked our presence under
the grey, drizzly skies. We could have saved weight and left our swim
trunks behind. Fortunately, Hoi An held far greater enjoyments.
few hundred steps up Marble Mountain brought us a spectacular view.
From the other side we could see storm-ravaged China Beach. Craftsmen
at the base of the mountain carve out all things marble, such as Buddhas.
is said Cau Lau soup can only be made with water from one particular
well in Hoi An. Whatever the reality, this pork specialty is only
found in Hoi An and was surprisingly a tour favorite for a few people
considering how well we had eaten..