Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 24th Sin Ho to Lai Chau 66 km

Minimal breakfast at 6:30 am of 2 cold fried eggs and the usual soggy anemic sweet white bread but for a first time welcome treat with honey.  Drip coffee addicts don't seem to understand the 2 ounce serving of espresso and finally go direct to the kitchen to get boiling water to add.  The coffee is actually authentic with crema sticking to the sides of the little cups as it should.  Supersweet condensed milk like Eagle Brand is served on the side.

Assembled in the parking lot at 7:30 am which is the usual appointed hour.  Started climbing up out of the village in mist and busted streets.  Wake up climb without warmup got juices flowing.
Early this morning the mist cleared for a few minutes.

The itinerary and our guide had emphasized that the day would be hard and begin with 30 km of 10% uphill.  Wrong.  It was 30 km of 10% DOWNhill.  Greasy downhill, so steep that your forearms ache from braking.  Soupy fog and layers of rutted red clay and condensation leaving a film everywhere.  Tricky riding.  In fact, a couple of people did lose it but with minor consequence and back on the bike.  Paddy had a small accident and is doing fine.
One of many muddy sections today.

Everyone else made it through fine.  Brendan was in Lai Cau shortly before 11 am  followed by Dawn who is riding quite strong some days.  Directions for the hotel over the last 4 km were terrible and many of us had a nice frustrating ride around the beaten up town.  [Group 3:  easy directions to the hotel.  As you come into Lai Cau from the mountains, you can't miss a huge new multi-lane freeway.  Turn right and go about 2 km.  Watch for high building on left with big neon sign on top Muong Thanh Hotel.  Go left 200 m and you're there.]   Everyone made it by 2 pm and had a well-deserved lunch.  Short distance but with the mist and steep climbs in the second half it was the most challenging day but still fabulous mountain riding.  Vertical gain:  1277 m; vertical loss: 1884 m

Tonight we are celebrating Paul's 65th birthday with some secrets shared.

Poinsettias grow readily, sometimes wild.  A reminder that Christmas is nigh.  Sweet mandarain oranges also common.

Doug Sly

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