Final Day : Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh City, 43.6km, FINAL TOTAL 1,619.2KM

Your calling. An emotional day. Huda campaign & 1 big cheque.

After only 5 hours sleep I woke up to the realization it was the final day and I couldn’t quite believe it. I was emotional..I couldn’t wait to see Nic, Harrison and Will in a few hours, and I was also realizing this would be the last time I would put on all of my cycling gear and go through the extensive process of getting ready for another day on the bike for cyclefor16. I had been on an incredible life-changing journey for the past 7 months, and I started to realize it was coming to an end; did I want it to end? I wanted to go home and be with my family, but had I also developed a form of Stockholm syndrome whereby my captor was the road, the physical challenge and exertion, the wonderful people we had met, the amazing country, my bike, the painful bike seat, Heartbeat, the children we are helping and their families. We were making a difference, a real difference, and we were achieving more than I dreamt we could ever achieve at the start of this journey 7 months ago. It had been tough, effectively doing 2 jobs, training extensively prior to the ride, and then the ride itself, but I was enjoying it, it was a good pain, an addictive pain, a pain reflecting positive change for so many people including myself. Perhaps I had found my calling, and this thought led me to think about a diagram I saw a couple of years ago, the diagram had 3 circles all overlapping with the centre of the 3 being 'Your Calling'. The first circle is ‘doing something you are good at’, the second circle is ‘feeling appreciated’ the third circle is  ‘making people’s lives better’, I thought about this for a second and cyclefor16 definitely fitted into the intersection of all three circles. With these thoughts I did a funny walk into the bathroom, scared myself and knew it was time to end the journey.

With only 25km’s to ride to complete 1,600kms, I decided today I would pay homage to my training, I wanted Jon & Aji to see where I had been training and that I hadn’t been escaping to the pub at the weekend. We rode through the small villages and rough roads of Cat Lai, passing by Children smiling and waving and men & women working in the hot fields. We rode onto the Cat Lai ferry crossing the Saigon river before entering HCMC, as soon as we got off the ferry, the traffic descended into chaos, articulated lorries blocking roads, motorbikes everywhere, cars pulling out without looking, throughout the entire trip the last 15kms were without doubt the most chaotic and dangerous we experienced from a traffic perspective. We passed the Australian International School after having completed 1,598kms, it would have been fitting to have passed the 1,600km mark outside the school but it wasn’t meant to be, we navigated our way through the container truck traffic heading towards District 2. With the iconic Bitexco tower in the horizon I passed 1,600kms, an incredible moment, I was filled with joy & relief, I was so happy I had done it, my body had held up, my bike had held up – not a single issue! I hadn’t let anyone down, I had helped to save so many people, I had accomplished more than what I ever thought possible, I had done this with an incredible team, my wife Nic, Harrison and Will, and Simon and the team at Geometry. With this running through my head & heart I couldn’t get back to an impromptu stop quick enough, we were heading to District 1 via a quick detour to my house. As we pulled in, I couldn’t quite believe it, I was back, we had done it. Huge hugs and kisses followed and I was overjoyed.

It was a short stop as the ride wasn’t finished, we still needed to make it to the Caravelle Hotel in District 1 and I wanted to ride a minimum of 1,617km, the distance Google tells me it is from Hanoi to HCMC. We picked up Simon (who was thankfully over his extreme case of Man Flu) & Raj, two people who had been such a key part of the success, two people who had been there from the start with me, so it was fantastic that they could both join us for the final part of the ride. We rode brilliantly and with Simon full of TUE's he took off over the Saigon bridge faster than a speeding Honda, unfortunately he went that fast he headed the wrong way… instead of heading to the Caravelle he was off to the airport!… After the past 7 months perhaps he wasn't going the wrong way at all! We passed by Notre Damn and stopped to collect Nic, Harrison and Will for the final part of the ride, it was such a proud moment for me, to have all of my family riding with me, everyone was chuffed and I think Harrison would have ridden 50km for me given the chance.

As we turned the corner to the Caravelle I saw Ang and Grantley and realising what we had achieved let out an enormous woohoo! As we cycled up towards the Caravelle entrance I saw a glimps of what was coming, there was a lot of people out of the front of the hotel and I could see a finish line. Harrison looked at me, and with a smile broader than the Sydney harbour bridge I said to him go for it, and he sprinted toward the finish line, I was so chuffed, that will be a memory that will last with Harrison forever. 

We stopped, and I couldn’t believe it, I looked around and saw TV camera’s, photographers, so many familiar faces of family and friends, it was so humbling to see how the Vietnamese press and everyone whom we have met has embraced this journey and what we are doing to help Heartbeat Vietnam.

We moved to the famous Saigon Saigon bar at the rooftop of the Caravelle Hotel and I was shocked and amazed at what I walked into, a room full of people and press, I could only imagine what it had taken by so many people to arrange this very special ending, and I will forever be grateful to the great team at Geometry Global Vietnam who have donated so much of their time to this journey and who have made a life-saving difference to over 60 disadvantaged children. Hopefully our efforts have helped raise awareness of the issue and of Heartbeat Vietnam.

My brain was fried, I was shocked, and thankfully I had written a speech for the occasion, but I didn’t need one as Will decided to take over the press conference, tapping the microphone to ensure it was on, he proceed to say “good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, you all look handsome and beautiful today (to much laughter in the room)”. For those of you who were unable to attend on Saturday I have copied my speech below. I will forever be grateful to everyone who has been a part of cyclefor16.

I truly hope this journey has inspired my children and many more to do something good in the community, to make a difference, and to have a go. Nothing is impossible.

Signing off with a very cold beer - all part of the Huda campaign Jon & I dreamt up on the ride leaving Hoi An...brilliant work by the illusive hairless silverback gorilla of Central Vietnam :)

PS : It’s never too late to donate, there are currently over 20,000 children who have congenital heart disease and who need surgery but their parents cannot afford the $1,200 cost to save them, 85% of these children (+17,000) will die without our help. Thank you for your continued support, thank you for helping Heartbeat Vietnam on their ongoing quest, you have made a difference this year and you have helped save the lives of over 60 children.

As many of you know, my wife Nicole and I decided we wanted to give back to others, to make a difference, a real difference to a part of the community in desperate need of help.
This initiative started with us lying on the sofa and saying we have to do something, let's have a go and see what happens, maybe we will not achieve much but we will achieve something, let's try, let's do something.
So I sent an email to a number of people I know asking whether they knew of any worthwhile charities with whom we could work with to try and make a difference. After reviewing numerous worthy charities, I met Rad of Heartbeat Vietnam and was immediately inspired, he told me so much about the work they do, how they identify children with their outreach clinics, how they raise money to fund the cost of surgery, how they help families get back on their feet and importantly how every single dollar and cent that is donated goes to the child as the overheads of Heartbeat are funded by VinaCapital. I told him my idea for cyclefor16 and I genuinely think he thought I was crazy, I told him I may not raise much money, I've never done this before and I think raising enough money to fund life saving heart surgery for 16 children is an ambition and I may not achieve it. Rad being Rad didn't blink, he looked me in the eye and said I believe you will do it, and whatever support you need from me and my team you just say. So To Rad personally, thank you, thank you for inspiring me, for believing and for offering all of your support, I am a grass roots initiative and you never made me feel like that, you made me feel like I could make a huge difference. So, Rad, and the entire team at Heartbeat, thank you, it truly is a team effort and you guys have been amazing. You continue to do an amazing job helping so many disadvantaged people each day, each week, each year, I think you guys are incredible, you are an inspiration and thank you for allowing me to be a part of the family for a short period of time.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank my family. This initiative has been a huge commitment and part of all of our lives for the past 7 months, my wife Nicole, and my sons Harrison and Will have all had to make significant sacrifices, but because we are such a strong team and because we understand it is to try and make a difference to people who desperately need help, no one complained, I am amazed by the maturity and understanding of Harrison and Will, I hope you are both proud of me and what we have achieved together, and I hope that I have inspired you both to think about how you can help other people who desperately need help. Your messages of support throughout the ride got me through each day, With Harrison telling me don't lose commitment, don't lose energy, don't give up, ride like the wind, and Will telling me to ride like a unicorn :) I thought of these words at least 5 times a day and they got me through the tough times, thank you boys I love you both so much. And with a twist in the words of AA Milne, to my boys and all the children who we are helping, “promise me you'll remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and anything is possible if you put everything into it.”
To my wife Nicole, thank you for your support, for your love, for your understanding, for making everything as easy as possible for me. There is so much that Nic does that no one sees, she makes everything possible, please know that none of this would be possible without you, you are an amazing person whom I love more each day. We did it!!
On the theme of making this possible, I would like to thank Simon and the team at Geometry Global who have been with me from the start. What a job you did, what a team, the campaign, the execution, the commitment from everyone, again, guys , this is because of you, thank you so so much, I hope you realise you have all made a life saving difference to over 60 children. I cannot thank you enough. Simon, thanks mate, I definitely couldn't have done this without you, thank you.
To everyone who rode with me, thank you, week 1 was hard, over 8 hours on a bike by yourself makes for a long day but Ronnie got me through it, giving me words of encouragement, putting cold towels on my head when I needed it, and being a huge support, I think he got married twice along the way, and I know I couldn’t have got through the first week without him there. Thanks mate. Having Aji, Jon, Mike, Andrew, Grant, Ang, Lisa, An, Marilyn, and my wife Nicole with me made the ride a thousand times easier. Your support and commitment has been incredible, and the amounts of money you have raised has been astonishing. Thank you all so much, thank you for getting me to the end.
A final thanks goes to everyone who has donated to cyclefor16, I am amazed by your kindness and generosity. You took action this year, you decided to make a difference, you decided to help save the life of a child or in some instances children who desperately need help. I can do this but without your action nothing happens. To quote from the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not.” Together we have helped to save the lives of over 60 disadvantaged children. Please know you have truly made a difference and you have saved a life. I cannot thank you enough, and to Rad and the Heartbeat team, to Nic, Harrison and Will, to Simon and everyone at Geometry, to all the riders who got me through this, in particular Jon and Aji, and to everyone who has donated I can never thank you enough. Not only have you changed the lives of 60 children you have also changed mine.
Thank you and enjoy the afternoon.

Day 13 & 14, Nha Trang to Mui Ne to Vung Tau, 146.1km, TOTAL 1,575.6km.

A day in the life, the med, Boycie, coastal roads, words from the riders and my four final words on the road. I'm now about to get on my bike to Saigon, let's do this!! TYSM! (read the end :) )

With each passing day it is more difficult to jump out of bed and get into the day, the legs are a bit stiffer, the eyes more closed. In the last two weeks I have averaged over 120kms per day on the bike with only 5 and a half hours sleep per night. I look like I have the worlds worst hangover and I haven't even touched a beer! I may be going slightly delirious and I'm officially the country's biggest daily consumer of caffeine (as well as exhaust fumes and those generated from burning rubbish) I require a gallon of black gold and two energy gels pre breakfast just to get dressed. Cyclefor16 has once again literally taken a life of its own and I now have a very different daily routine to that which I have been used to.. here is a small insight into each day of my life on the road over the past 2 weeks...

5:30am, woken up to Taylor telling me to shake it off, absolutely fabulous in week one, unfortunately I've now fallen out with Ms Swift and she is copping a fair bit of abuse in week 2. I take my first stiff steps out of bed, my legs don’t work, my thighs have turned to stone, I do a walk to the bathroom, a walk which would not be amiss on a Monty Python sketch, I look in the mirror and genuinely frighten myself.

5:40am Instant coffee... Debatable whether it is actually coffee. Take vitamins and wish I had Jon's Magic black bag. Check emails and quickly respond.

5:50am, to accompany my instant black chemical mixture, I boil the kettle for my appetizing dehydrated porridge. I manage to consume half of it at best and give up. 

6:00am. I start the process of applying more creams than Kim Kardashian. It is a pain in the arse - literally. I would be the worlds worst woman.

6:10am I start the process of getting dressed, bib shorts first, putting them on the wrong way around I conduct a maneuver which would win a twister game to correct the issue. The second pair of shorts go on, I can’t feel my legs due to the compression, good.. no more pain. I sniff my my half washed top, not great, but it goes on. I pick up my socks, sniff them and honestly almost fall over, forget smelling salts for anyone unconscious, I have a new solution. They are a disgrace, I put the damp smelly socks on, and convince myself that Bradley Wiggins must go through this.. right?.. feeling like a million dollars and looking like I’m going to an 80’s fancy dress rollerdisco I’m ready to go.
6:20am. But before I do, I pack up my bags and forget where I have put everything. 

6:30am. In my best Lycra and to the mental tune of ‘let's get physical' I do some stretching, I look so ridiculous I can’t help but laugh to myself..

6:40am. Depart room and leave at least 1 personal item in the room which is to be lost forever. 

6:45am. Check out.

6:55am. bike set up... Kick the tyres, talk to my wonderful bike and tell it to get me through another day.. Have another energy gel

7:00am. Set off to the mental tune of Rihanna's 'work,work,work,work,work'....
Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride

7:01am. Stop!! Didn’t put Strava on. I need to know how far I’ve ridden.

7:10am. Check bike computer. Must have done 20km so far... 1.7km done.

7:20am. Check bike computer. 

7:22am. There must be something wrong with computer.

7:25am. Adjust the padding on my bottom, it's not working.

7:30am. Do mental calculations of speed distance and time based on current pace.
Do this again and again for the remainder of the day being convinced something must be wrong. I am going delirious.

7:40am. Calculate how far the end of the current road is. Do this for the rest of the day.  

7:45am. Get up off seat, padding definitely not working.

7:50am. Feels like I'm riding a horse the amount of times I am off the seat. Bottom in serious pain, and for some reason my left side is far worst than my right, consider why. Give up considering and just do circles with my feet.

8:00am, 20kms done, the day has now been mentally broken down into chunks, each 25km is approximately 1.5 hours, with coffee break, energy gel and snack. Constant calculations continue in my head, I am going mental.

8:25am, 25kms done. Quick stop, Vietnamese coffee. My bottom screams for joy when I get off and then screams even louder when I get back on the seat. Repeat 7am to 8:30am until lunchtime. Consider many things and take in the wonderful country that is Vietnam.

12:30pm. Lunch - with very odd looks, I boil water in a kettle to make dehydrated food, I do hope I have not offended anyone, I just couldn’t afford to risk getting sick and not completing the ride, this is too important.

Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride

3:00pm, stop, coffee, snack. Past 100kms, fantastic!! Every km is now mentally additional km’s in the bank to be used if something goes wrong or to take the last few days easier. These are the best km’s of the day, each one gets easier and easier, and if it wasn’t for bad light stopping play, on occasion I think I could have ridden until midnight.

Bad light stops play. Somewhere between 110 and 140km complete. I feel good, like I’ve put everything into it. A very rewarding sense of satisfaction and knowledge I have done a shift, a shift for something I truly believe in, a shift for children who need help. I feel good.

5:45pm, check into hostel/hospital/hotel. I feel bad.

6:00pm, get out cycling clothes for tomorrow and clothes for evening, give them a sniff, I feel sick. Maybe they will improve if I lay them on the floor with the aircon on (they don’t but I still do it). I wash current clothes using Aji’s (aka Martha Stewart) tip of cold water and three scrubs and rinses. I give up after 2 scrubs as they’re a mess, I decide I’m going to burn them in a huge toxic bonfire when I get back to Saigon. When in Rome...

6:30pm. Call Nic and the boys and hear all about their day, I feel great.

7:00pm dinner - if possible pasta...I want a beer, I refuse a beer, I dream about ending and having a cold beer.

8:30pm, transfer & edit photos, consider the amazing events of the day and draft blog.

10:00pm, get frustrated at the 1984 dial up modem internet speeds and dream about the future.

11:30pm, blog posted, I feel good, the stories of the day have been represented. I am very conscious many people have been very generous, and are whole heartedly supporting me, our initiative, and the children we are trying to help. I believe in doing things properly and it gives me such huge satisfaction to hear and read that people have enjoyed reading about our journey from Hanoi to Saigon, this motivates me even further, I do not mind how long it takes to write the blog, it is my commitment and I write for everyone who is a part of our initiative.

12:00pm, sleep.

5:30am, Taylor!!!!! ... and very quickly thereafter a very scary man stands in front of me in the Bathroom, and we do it all again.

Back to day 13... We left beautiful Nha Trang bidding farewell to our loved ones, fueled by so much love and support we rode gracefully out of Nha Trang, taking envious glances at people sat in cafes overlooking the beach drinking their morning coffee 

The ride was spectacular, beautiful winding coastal roads left me thinking I was riding in the Mediterranean.

it was a simply spectacular day and hot, we were grateful we had factor 1000 on, but in this sun that’s still not enough to prevent the cyclist suntans.

We rode through small villages, across train tracks, passed fields of corn and rice before stopping after 60km. We were riding extremely well. Thankfully because I had ridden so many km's in week 1, there is now no need to continue riding 120 to 140kms per day, so today we decided we would ride 80km. We stopped for lunch at a beach side restaurant and then continued the coastal transfer to the sand dunes of Mui Ne, we thought we would enjoy a short 20km ride along the coast to end the day, we thought wrong, and with looks of shock and horror similar to those worn by everyone during the Dalat to Nha Trang stage we proceeded to climb the 8% hills, inspired by the beautiful views and thought of a potential swim in the hotel pool we still made quick progress into Mui Ne.

The hotel was great, and we arrived early enough for a swim. I was drafting the blog when I got a call from Aji telling me that I need to come to the pool now, there’s a VIP here that I need to see. With excitement and wonder I walked to the swimming pool, I started to think who it could be, it couldn’t be a footballer as the season has started, a musician? possibly but the hotel isn’t that great, it must be a D rate celebrity, someone famous for being famous, once on I’m a celebrity get me out of here. Aji is looking excited, a smile emerges on my face, who is it, this is going to be interesting.  And then I see him, from the East End of London, Boycie! 

With laughter all around, we jump into the pool and with little energy left in our bodies we get out of the pool in a similar way to how seals get onto rocks.  

We ended the day with a broromantic 3 man moonlit dinner.

Day 14, with the smell of sea air and fish sauce permeating through the air we rode gently through the beach resort of Mui Ne heading towards the 13th century Cham Temples. 


We continued our ride to Vung Tau, riding through deserted beach front villages, abandoned resorts and half built villas, these villages are the unfortunate consequences of the economic sanctions placed on Russia, the devaluation of the Russian currency and the subsequent significant reduction in Russian tourists. The entire area was like a ghost town.

As we rode towards the end of Day 14, my mind started to think about tomorrow and the end of Cyclefor16. I honestly can't quite believe it, what we have achieved together, the difference we have made, the fact my body is still holding up and I actually feel fantastic. The support we have had from everywhere across the globe.  The hard work, the training, the preparation for the ride as well as everything else that we have done has worked. I am happy, grateful, humbled, and inspired to do more, but first I want to see my children and wife and get back to being a dad and husband.

We finished the ride and transferred to Vung Tau, my emotions quicky turned to fear as I thought we had killed the illusive hairless silverback gorilla of central Vietnam. With many aches and pains, I was genuinely concerned we may have pushed the endangered beast too far. Thinking quickly I took my shoe and sock off and waved my sock under his nose. I had awoken the beast from the dead.... but it wasn’t a smart move..

It's now Saturday morning, I'm about to check out and ride to Saigon. If you type into Google ‘what is the distance between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’ Mr Google tells you that it is 1,617km. Today, thanks to your support I will have ridden more than 1,617km in 15 days, and thanks to your very generous donations, together we will be saving the lives of 60 disadvantaged children who need life saving heart surgery. Let's do this!...

My last 4 words of the blog on the road.. 

Thank you so much. 


Words from the Silverback (aka Jon) & Jon.

It has been an honor and a privilege to sit in a saddle alongside Scott and this epic in journey of 1600km.

Blinded by a western world full of greed, politics and materialistic views.  My eyes have very much been opened. And to see that the spirit of human kindness is alive and kicking.

It has been a test both physical and mental for Scott.

Each morning to answer the challenge, and then to be able to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day covered in mud, sweat and look in the mirror and say you did your bit.  That’s the measure of the man.

I’ve been very fortunate to share in some of his many experiences, enough stories to last a lifetime. (Insert grandkids, smoking jacket and rocking chair).

These people do it tough! But never fail to smile.

Personally, I'm not very empathetic and sometimes struggle in my life to express this to the ones I love or need love.  I'm not sure why, unfortunately that's just me and the way I’ve been built.  But this has been a very big life lesson for me, and one that hopefully stays with me for the rest of my life.

Seeing these poor kids sat in hospital with a single parent (assuming the other is out there working incredibly hard to keep the family afloat) was a another slap round the head of reality and how ridiculously fortunate we are as we all read this blog.

I have complete admiration and respect for Scott in the way he has conducted himself during this trip is to be celebrated. 

In a 7/8 Hour ride in 37 degree heat (or rain) and to always come off the bike at the end of day with such positivity towards Aji and myself was brilliant. 

Not once were moans (plenty of groans) or dummy spits just simply love in equal measures for these Vietnam kids and also towards Nicole and his boys.

At the end of everyday it's been beautiful to hear Scott on the phone to his family and the love he conveys. They should know the have been on this ride throughout and I have no doubt kept him going on many occasions.

This was Scotts Everest, which he has conquered and firmly planted a flag in the ground as s challenge to the next man/woman to take up the baton and create a lasting legacy to save the life of someone less fortunate.

So do your bit, dig deep and help safe a life. 

A life, which has little or no control to their destiny.  And by the time they possibly do have a chance to make a difference for them selves, it's probably to late.

Thanks Scott for allowing us both to share this magical adventure.

Tip of the cap sir, It's been a pleasure.

Jon & Aji

Day 12 : Dalat to Nha Trang, 100.1km, TOTAL 1,429.5km

Sherpas, Evel Knievel, my Rock. Words from Aunty Grantley & Lisa...The best day so far. 

Definitely the best day of the ride thus far. Starting the day with the people you love, the people who have supported you along every step of the journey, people who have contributed so much, and so generously was fantastic, the day went in a flash, I absolutely loved every single minute of it. I am so very grateful to you all, Thank you.

Leaving the Vietnamese city of love with a fantastic coffee made from beans produced locally, and with my shoe cello taped up we were ready for what was billed as the highlight of the tour.

Having sold this leg of the tour to everyone as a gentle downhill glide from Dalat to Nha Trang there was shock and horror on the faces of the riders as we approached a 5km climb prior to the top of the pass. Undeterred, everyone took on the beast and with the occasional help from sherpas and silverbacks everyone proudly got to the top. Lisa, you came for a quiet relaxing beach holiday in Vietnam and you ended up riding a bike up huge mountains and visiting children in Hospital, you are a true legend! 

Everyone was breathless, not because of the climb but because of the incredible view, it was simply stunning, by far the best view of the 12 days, a view of the valley stretching all the way to Nha Trang. Taking in the views we sped down the mountain, passing waterfalls, lush mountain forests,
Tigers and even an elephant!

With everyone full of endorphins and enjoying the majestic views and cool mountain air, An decided to pull an Evel Knievel style stunt over a rock in the road, unfortunately it ended more Eddie the Eagle than Evel Knievel and poor An gave the cold concrete a high five with her knees and elbows. Unfortunately she has fractured her elbow, thankfully it wasn’t any worst and she will make a full recovery. She has been told no more daredevil stunts!

Inspired by the city of love and beauty all around, Grant and Ang decided to ride holding hands, it was a beautiful image on a beautiful day and inspired romance... Riding next to my beautiful wife I decided I would try to give her a kiss whilst riding, (yes, post event I realise this sentence just spells trouble), I got close and lent over, and just as I was puckering up I got my handlebars caught up with Nic’s, I tried to recover but ended up kissing the concrete road instead. With the temperature at 38 degrees at least it was a hot kiss! With elbows and ego scrazed we carried on riding passing through beautiful villages whilst riding alongside the river, it was a truly special day.


The biggest highlight for me was having Nic on the ride, I am so proud of her, she rode an incredible 66km! And I got to ride all of them by her side, today was my favourite ride of the tour so far and no doubt will be my favourite of the whole trip. To be able to ride side by side with the woman whom you love most in the world, with the person who makes so many things possible for me and our boys was very very special and meant everything to me, my wife is an inspiration and she has done so much for this initiative that no one sees, thank you gorgeous, without you none of what we are achieving together would be possible.


The pictures speak for themselves.

As this was a very special day, Aunty Grantley and Lisa are also guest bloggers today... 

Aunty Grantley
At 57 years of age riding a bike in the middle of nowhere in Vietnam was strangely,  not on my bucket list. 

But when Scott asked if there was a chance that I could join him for support in any part of his 1600 kilometres in 16 days epic journey, to raise money for children who require life saving heart operations, I was more than happy to donate to such an awesome cause. Naturally, I had no intentions at all of joining him in riding a bloody bike.. 

I couldn't have been more wrong!!! I realise now it should have been on the top of my bucket list..

Although I didn't have anything at all the indicated that I was remotely prepared to ride a bike. Except a new pair of runners..
It was one of the most amazing, rewarding and spiritual things I have ever done.

The freedom and the challenge of riding up steep hills thinking you will never make it, and next minute you have. The views, fresh air lush green jungle, friendly locals, all the different animals and sounds of wildlife I had never heard before. The instant friendship from 9 others that I met supporting Scott on his quest, made my one day bike ride an incredible experience, that will stay with me forever.

Although slightly sore at my business end, I'm not even a tad in pain like John, Aji and Scott. You blokes are sensational ... 

Ride like an unicorn 


What an incredible few days, and what a sense of achievement on so many levels! 

Being part of Cycle for 16 was an amazing experience, an awesome day meeting 15 of the most "fortunate" children to have luckily crossed paths with Scott and Nic at the hospital in Danang. An emotional day for Jane and I, yet heart warming day to put to reality, the work the team are doing to raise funds. 

To take part in the ride was an enormous personal physical challenge having not been on a bicycle seat for 7 years, (let alone one that had gears) and by a body that is so unfit and has a true aversion to the word exercise! Yet I managed to do it, well at least 49kms of the ride.  

I was huffing and puffing, and would never achieved this without visioning those kids in the hospital, and without the support and encouragement of Jon, and the crew.  Jon in particular continued to challenge me by giving me a false pre tense that it was only a few more kms, and that I could do it.   Armed with a couple of sips of Jon's magic potion going up those hills, and his perseverance to push this stubborn Taurean beyond her capabilities, he and the lads acted as my Sherpa for the last bit, and I claimed my own victory with a big woohhhooo! The Queen of Sheeba made it, it was like something out of the show the Biggest Loser! 

Thanks Scott and Nic, and all the riders for your incredible efforts in pulling this fundraising event together and raising such an awesome amount of money to help - an experience embedded in my heart that I'll never forget.  But I will think twice next time I agree to have holidays with the Kirkhams, and also in trusting them that day was riding all downhill! Love you so much for all you have done for the kids xxxx 

Day 13 and Mui Ne tomorrow. 

Thanks for making a difference this year.



Day 11 : Daklat to Dalat, 102.5km. TOTAL 1,329.4km.

A beautiful country, Lance Armstrong, Capturing the illusive hairless silverback gorilla of Central Vietnam, and the Universe speaks, the short story of Day 11.

Opening the curtains this morning it seemed we were in for another wet day. We headed to breakfast and there was a very clear and visible order of best shirt washer. Aji's shirt was white, as if never worn before except for a few little marks here and there, when asked how did he do this (real men chat for us at breakfast!!) he gave us his top tips for cleaning a white shirt - use cold water!, second place was myself, more grey than white and with a fairly disgusting odour, third and a long way last was Jon, who frankly looked like he'd gone outside and washed his shirt in a muddy puddle, it was three tone grey and brown with stains all over it, with Aji one side and Jon the other for a second I could have sworn I was having breakfast with Rab C Nesbitt and Martha Stewart.

 Rab C 

Rab C 

In our best Jane Fonda cycling get-up we headed to the lobby to check out, with Wham playing through the hotel speakers we found it perfectly acceptable to do our hamstring stretches in the middle of the lobby, mid hamstring stretch I was interrupted by a couple from Australia who handed me a 100k VND note, perhaps to get me to stop stretching, but they said politely it was for the children, Diane and Lloyd you are a very generous couple! Thank you. 

As we rode out of the city fear genuinely came over me, up front my worst nightmares as a child was literally coming to life and in all places Daklak! The Daleks were here, I used to hide behind the sofa on a Saturday night when these things would be on Dr Who!! Scared, I floored it faster than trying to out sprint rabied wild dogs.

We continued riding through central Vietnam, the landscape is beautiful, coffee plantations, pepper farms, men and women doing hard yards in the fields, but all with smiles on their faces. This part of the world is tough but very special.


As we cycled through a little town we saw a boy ride through red traffic lights in a hurry, immediately it was time for another race, and this time we were beaten by a country mile, again smiles and laughter all around and a magical high five whilst riding to end the race.

 He won by a country mile!

He won by a country mile!

As we started the many ascents through the mountains, Jon's black magic bag came good today, the pills and potions inside had clearly made its way to every cell in his body as today he transformed into the incredible mountain climbing gorilla, racing up the mountain roads faster than Lance Armstrong. Unfortunately this meant I was following him downhill, and yet again he decided to be a disgrace and I rode into a mist of filth at 50km/h, it was that bad I couldn't see and almost crashed my bike.

 Literally the moment the mist of filth hit me in the face, all filmed on GoPro. 

Literally the moment the mist of filth hit me in the face, all filmed on GoPro. 

From my perspective it was evident Jon needed a toilet break, so we stopped by the side of the road and Jon crept into the bushes to relieve himself, within seconds a man appeared from nowhere equipped with a bow and arrow ready to capture the illusive hairless silverback gorilla of central Vietnam. 

With a lot of wind, rain and mountain climbs it had been a tough day, we we're tired and the universe spoke. We needed water so we stopped at a nearby shop, it was evidently a poor area, there were kids outside the shop, full of smiles and their economic situation plain to see, I decided to buy the kids some milk and they were so happy and grateful, we started talking to the owner of the shop, we told her what we are doing and then she told us her son was diagnosed with congenital heart disease 7 years ago, in that year they had a good coffee crop and prices were high but the cost of surgery was also very high as the condition was bad, 200mn VND bad / 9000 USD, (coincidentally the same amount as we received from one extremely generous and kind hearted donator two days ago), 200mn VND was a figure they couldn't afford and their son was going to die, so with the help of heartbeat and with the local province and national insurance doing their part, their son had the surgery he needed and is now living a very full and happy life. It was incredible that by chance we stopped in this shop in very rural central Vietnam and the lady who owns it is directly connected with what we are doing. With this amazing experience the final 12kms were the best of the day.

As we finished the ride a little girl came up to say hello to us, she has so very little, like many people in this area but is clearly so very happy and so very friendly. The people in this part of Vietnam work extremely hard, they have little material wealth but they are incredibly happy and wonderfully friendly, it has been an indescribable pleasure being able to see the rural areas of central Vietnam and its magical people, I feel blessed.

Unfortunately very soon thereafter I was taking my shoes off only to realise the clip on one of my shoes had broken, my shoe was done up tight and now I couldn't get the thing off my foot, I had visions of having to sleep , cycle and shower in this wet boot until Saturday.

 Hmm..Should I chop his foot off?..

Hmm..Should I chop his foot off?..


After a long day we got back to the hotel and it was fantastic to see amazing friends and my wonderful wife, their support means so much to me and is hugely motivating, I am so happy they are all here and have been able to join me and experience so many aspects of what we are doing. 


We are all cycling to Nha Trang tomorrow, it should be fun :)

Thanks for making a difference and helping save a life.


Day 10 : Kon Tum to Daklak, 140.4km, TOTAL 1,226.9km.

Student life. Pea Soup. Mountain goats on TV shows and hairless gorillas. The story of Day 10...
The day started early with us leaving the Hotel at 5:45am, when I say hotel, you may think glamour, holiday, relaxation, unfortunately with limited cycling equipment and long days on the bike my room is more like a laundry than a hotel. Before I left Nic gave me instructions on how to do my own washing and she proudly sent me on my way with a bottle of washing liquid. Whilst there's no way I can remove the stains I thought I was doing a good job cleaning my clothes, I was horribly wrong...I got in the lift at 5:40 and two friendly Vietnamese women were in the lift, what looked like an elderly lady (mother) and daughter. I put my bags in the lift and the door closed, as i looked at the numbers counting down (as one does for some unknown reason when in a lift) I noticed movement behind me via the mirror effect lift doors, the older lady had slowly lifted her hand over her mouth and nose, as she was very old I thought to myself that maybe she had uncontrollably 'dropped one' in the lift, then I saw her nudge her daughter and nod towards me, and then I saw her pinch her nostrils closed to stop the smell. OMG!, I was astonished but perhaps not surprised as when I walk back into my laundry room each night it is an assault on my nasal passages, with a heady mix of sweat, dirt, and dampness filling the air and sending me unconscious. As the lift bell rang and the lift doors opened I held the door open with my arm held high and armpit protruding, and in the style of a true gentleman I insisted on the ladies leaving first. The older lady refused at first but when I kept saying 'no, please, ladies first' she reluctantly accepted. I think I heard her gag as she crossed under the armpit bridge. I honestly may need to burn my clothes upon arrival into HCMC.

The student theme continued as we got into the van for the short transfer. As breakfast wasn't available at such an early hour the guys bought pizza the night before from a local bakery and decided to eat that cold for breakfast. A meal of champions to start the day Jon tells me, he reckons Sir Bradley Wiggins swears by it, and frankly after the morning performance I can understand why.

We pulled up at the start of the ride, and it really was a day where you wouldn't choose to ride. The rain was coming in sideways, a big headwind, low cloud, mist and fog and only 20 degrees. A real English day In Vietnam. We got our gear on and were ready to go, but there was a lot of nervousness amongst all of us as we got on the bikes, before we started we needed a talk. So I said; if we had to choose to ride today we wouldn't, but did the children who we are trying to help save choose to have congenital heart disease? no they didn't, so today for those children who didn't get to choose and for whom we are riding for we have no choice, we keep riding no matter what, today for us it will be tough but this is just like it is everyday for the children we are trying to help, so today we keep going. And with these words we headed off into the cold and wet like 4 NSW greyhounds going out of the traps for the very last time. We set an incredible pace doing the first 30km within an hour, and this pace continued for hour two when after 55km we had to reluctantly say bye to Mike. It is incredible to think I only met Mike for the first time 2 weeks ago at an AIS function, I am absolutely amazed that he committed to do the ride in such short notice after learning about what we are doing, and I am staggered that he has managed to raise over 4000 USD for cyclefor16 in this time. Truly outstanding commitment, effort and contribution Mike, you've made a huge difference, well done and thank you.

With our clothes soaked and our shoes feeling like full Wellington boots we carried on through the very steep rolling hills of the central highlands. We supposedly passed majestically views of the mountain range, with coffee plantations and pepper farms either side for us to view, for all we could see it could have been an industrial estate. We kept going. It was tough, we climbed into the mist and fog, we couldn't see the top of the hills we were riding up, the motorbikes overtaking us were disappearing into the mist as if being teleported to another sunnier warmer location in Vietnam, and with delirious hope that may be happening we continued to chase the mist in the horizon. 

 Gorilla in the mist..

Gorilla in the mist..

Just as we were ascending a rather large hill I started to feel something very wet running down my thigh, I thought back to the old lady in the lift and her potentially losing control of herself, I thought it can't be rain as I'm soaked through, this is a constant stream of water running down my thigh, what has this bike ride done to me?! And then I noticed my camelbak, the plastic top had come of and 3 litres of water was emptying itself onto my inner thigh... It wasn't raining today it was pouring. But it was good, it was tough, and this is what it should be, this is what was intended, this ride should partially reflect the extreme daily challenge every child with congenital heart disease goes through, and with this in my mind, we were off the seats and ascending the mountain. 

With 10 climbs complete, Jon (aka hairless gorilla) took me to a place far far away, a place with sun, sea, sand and surf, a place a thousand years away from our world today... As we started climbing the 11th hill, the hairless gorilla said go ahead you $&#¥!@ mountain goat!, all I heard was Mountain Goat, a wonderful beer from NZ to be had sat on the beach watching the sunset and late afternoon surfers. Whilst in this daydream state, I forgot to change gears, almost lost control of the bike and nearly ended up in the storm drain, recovering, my mind drifted towards Saturday and the cold beer that awaits.. If anyone can find Mountain Goat in Vietnam can you send it to the Caravelle Hotel for Saturday please. And if anyone from Mountain Goat is somehow reading this I'm happy to add daily references for a years worth of beer :) I'm also happy to swap this last paragraph to James Squires if required :) :) 

 The hairless gorilla, a better image was taken just a few seconds later post a schoolboy prank, but I can't put it on..

The hairless gorilla, a better image was taken just a few seconds later post a schoolboy prank, but I can't put it on..

As we reached the top of the very long 11th climb we stopped for a drink at a roadside cafe and I quickly checked my emails, I was disheartened to receive one from Simon Breen who informed me his man flu has now turned into very bad man flu and he may not be able to join the ride in Nha Trang. I do hope he gets better and can join us for at least 1 day as Simon (& team at Geometry) have been such a huge and important part of this journey, Simon has been with me from Day 1 over 7 months ago, he has had to put up with me and together we have managed the meetings with Heartbeat, managed the schedule, created a wonderful campaign, attended all the hospital visits (excluding Danang), met families in the Mekong delta, etc...he has been an absolute legend, I couldn't have done this without him (or my wife) and I truly hope he can join me.


The next email lifted me immediately back up as it was an invitation to participate in a primetime national Vietnamese TV show which highlights how and why some foreigners are trying to help Vietnam and its people. I very much look forward to being on the show, but I'm not sure there is enough make up in the world to make me look acceptable for TV as I have a face for radio!!

As we set off again the hairless gorilla claimed he wanted a handicapped start for  the next climb, claiming his additional weight was hindering him, I'm not sure if he was referring to his bike or himself, but as he's bigger than me and does Thai kick boxing i decided to give that question a miss, and let him set off with his handicaps :) 

 The handicap right there.. 

The handicap right there.. 

As we climbed the final hill we starting discussing the future, I have always said that I hope this initiative inspires others to do something, to try and make a positive difference to a part of our community in need of help as I have tried this year with cyclefor16, and the Guerilla and I discussed the idea of a Baton which would be passed on each year, a baton that would be inscribed with the name of the grass roots initiative conducted each year for Heartbeat Vietnam. So if you have an idea for an initiative and your committed to follow through to make a difference to many disadvantaged children who desperately need help, let me know your idea for your initiative. The person whose initiative it was in the previous year gets to decide which initiative is chosen for the annual Baton :)

Today was great, a tough ride but hugely motivating, it was a ride with meaning and we all felt it. Tomorrow will be fantastic as I get to see my wonderful and beautiful wife. 

Off to Dalat for Day 11.

Thanks for making a difference and saving a life this year.


 Finishing yesterday's blog whilst in the van to the start of Day 10 

Finishing yesterday's blog whilst in the van to the start of Day 10 

Day 9 : Hoi An to Kon Tum, 68.9km, TOTAL 1086.5km.

A day of two halves. Swapsies. Relegation. Sensory overload. Valley lows and mountain highs. The story of Day 9.

As an ex footballer used to say, 'it was a game of two halves' this saying was used to convey the first half was very different to the second. Well, today we definitely had a day of two halves. 

It was a glorious morning in Hoi An as we checked out of the hotel hospital and slowly rolled past the old town, over the river and through magical little villages full of people greeting us with huge smiles, loud hello's, and the occasional high risk high five. As we stopped at a local coffee shop I saw a little boy admiring my bike and I knew what I had to do, it was a tough decision as I love my bike, (we have been through a lot together already) and I know I have to still have to climb mountains and cycle a minimum of 550km but I knew it was the right thing to do, so, like a kid in a playground with panini stickers, I made the swap of the century. 


As I chatted to Mike we started to ride on a rough piece of gravel road, as usual I went to grab my water bottle to take a drink but I slipped, my handlebar turned left, collided with Mike's and in a recovery Lewis Hamilton would have been proud of we both managed to stay on our bikes, with a fair amount of adrenaline pumping through the veins I rode towards Mike to say sorry and immediately did it again, after careful consultation within the kangaroo court I was rightfully demoted to the back of the pack to serve my punishment, and boy was it a punishment!

We carried on riding at a good pace, passing through beautiful small towns which straddled a lake on one side and the inviting cold blue sea of the ocean on the the other.

At this point I was happily propping up the group at the rear. We then headed into some wonderful countryside, beautiful farms and quaint villages scattered across the hot Vietnamese countywide.

The smell of water buffalo poo and horse manure filling the country air. I was taking it all in with all of my senses, trying to capture mental pictures of the wonderful surroundings we were in, and then one of my senses went into overload. My sense of smell suddenly went into hyperdrive and my sense of sight started to fade, a different scent has started to fill the air, sniffing to determine what it was and with my eyes starting to water I suddenly knew, it was the very distinct smell of a human who had consumed too much pork belly the day prior ... It was a Disgrace, an absolute assault to the senses and frankly far too severe a punishment for my earlier indiscretion. So I pleaded to the court for a reprieve, accusing Jon of creating unacceptable scent mists for cyclists. As the two other members were gliding through the said invisible mist of disgrace, they quickly agreed that Jon should be relegated to the back out of harms way. Jon has now been banned from pork belly for the rest of the ride.

 Jon's official relegation

Jon's official relegation

With my ability to smell, see and speak restored, and my mind firmly on the celebration in HCMC, and my first cold beer in a couple of weeks, I started to pitch Jon an advertising campaign idea for the big beer brand in Central Vietnam, Huda Beer. It is exciting!! We are pushing the boundaries and I think we have found a perfect sweet spot for this brand in Central Vietnam, the campaign is now WIP and we will update this blog with the first visual by the end of the tour...

We finished the morning ride having completed almost 70km, excellent progress and on track for a 120 to 140km day. To avoid National Highway 1 and to get us closer to Kon Tum we jumped in the van for a 2 hour transfer.
6 hours later we were still in the van. My bottom so painful I had to stand up in the van as we drove. With light fading fast and a storm on the horizon my hopes of completing +100km were fading. We decided to jump out of the van in a mountainous valley in the middle of nowhere to ride for the last hour of light. As soon as we stepped out of the Van the heaviest monsoon rain soaked us, whilst it was going to be a little dangerous riding in the mountains in monsoon rain we decided we would be careful but get on with it. We pulled the bikes out of the van only to find both Aji and Mike had punctured tires, disaster! As I looked into the van through the heavy rain I'm sure I saw Jon with his little pinky finger up to the side of his mouth. :)
Frustratingly we decided to call it a day and headed to our hotel in Kon Tum, the afternoon had been terrible and painful (but with beautiful mountain scenery) but as Ronnie told me last week, expect something to go wrong but as you now have credits in the kilometer bank you'll be fine. Today was that day where it went wrong.

We had been travelling in the van ten minutes when suddenly my day took another turn, my mood was transformed from valley lows to the peak of mountain heights, with the pain in my bottom suddenly disappeared too! We had received our largest single donation to date, 200 million VND!! equivalent to 9,000 USD, an incredible amount of money and an incredibly generous and kind donation which will save the lives of at least 7 children who desperately need help. With this amount, in total we will now be able to fund life saving heart surgery for 58 children. We have almost raised 70,000 USD, it is incredible. To everyone who has donated, thank you so much, on behalf of the families of the children and on behalf of Heartbeat Vietnam thank you, every single donation makes a massive difference as these children and their families cannot afford the cost of the surgery they need, they need our help and every single donation does that.

 What a mountain high!

What a mountain high!

Thanks to Mike for the photos as I haven't had a chance to review my GoPro. Tomorrow we start at 5:45 and will ride to Daklak, hopefully we get a full day in, I achieve 1,200km in total and critically the air is only filled with the smell of coffee plantations and pine trees!

Thanks for making a difference and helping to save a life this year.


Day 8 : Hoi An rest day, 63.5km. TOTAL 1,0176Km.

Why we are doing this... the story of Day 8.

Week 1 is complete and I have rode over 1,000km, to put it into a different context the average runner burns 3,500 calories during a marathon, on average I burned 4,937 calories on each of the first 7 days of the ride.

Today we said goodbye to Ronnie, an absolute legend and huge help, there's no way I would have been able to get through the first week as I did if Ronnie had not joined, his words of encouragement, support and advice have been fantastic, thanks mate. Jon arrived from Sydney full of energy (probably due to his magic black bag),  he will ride all the way through to HCMC, it's fantastic to have him here.

To keep the legs from turning to stone we rode to the Danang heart hospital to visit disadvantaged children who are having life saving heart surgery. This is why I started this initiative, this is why I am riding, so together we can make a life saving difference to children like these in desperate need of help. It was fantastic to have Ronnie, Lisa, Jane, Jon, Aji and Mike there as well, to see the children and their families first hand, and to see how they and all of us together are truly making a difference to some people in very desperate need of help.

It was great to see the children recovering, amazing to hear how a 15 year old boy post surgery feels great and can't wait to go home and play with his friends, sad when a boy tells you that he can't breathe and there is real fear in his eyes, rewarding beyond words when he relaxes and smiles when you give him encouragement and tell him soon he is going to be able to breathe fully and next year he can join me on the ride if he wants, heart-breaking to see mums, dads, and grandad's sit next to their little ones who are fighting for their lives in intensive care, humbling when a child and a parent shakes your hand and with a look of incredible sincerity says thank you, and inspiring to see all of the amazing work Rad and the team at Heartbeat are doing. Everyone at Heartbeat foundation does such an incredible job, and I am so proud that we are able to help them, I actually think job is the wrong word as no one in the foundation thinks of what they do as a job, it is far bigger and more important than that. 


 Words of encouragement and an offer to join me on the ride next year

Words of encouragement and an offer to join me on the ride next year

After riding to and from the hospital and with John Denver playing in my head I visited my spiritual home to see two very special people. A great way to end an outstanding day and first week.



If you would like to donate, you still can at

Thanks for truly making a difference this year and saving a life of someone in desperate need of help.


Day 7 : Hue to Hoi An, 147.9km. TOTAL 953.5km.

Extreme measures, flying unicorns, female dogs and a Mental Hospital... The story of Day 7.

OMG what a transformation... What a joyous day. Aji and Mike joined the ride today and they both made a massive difference for so many reasons. The first and immediate one was Mike offering to loan me something of extreme importance, something which would potentially ease the ongoing agony I am suffering in my posterior. So, with two very padded pairs of shorts on and Mike's wonder Gel seat firmly in place my ride was transformed from medieval torture to a joyous ride around the Vietnamese countryside. 


As we left Hue we all chatted casually and the first 10 KM's flew by in a flash, no calculations of how many km's to do, speed per hour, just great chat with beautiful scenery. At least I thought it was good chat, perhaps I was wrong, perhaps Aji couldn't take anymore and wanted to eject himself from the chat torture because at 13km he mysteriously crashed hard into the Tarmac of the bridge we were crossing, there was no traffic, no rocks, but suddenly Aji is on the deck bleeding. The theories surrounding the phantom crash lingered on for a few hours... 

Taking the fairly extreme hint, we rode around the sea passing the city of ghosts and oyster farms with considerably less chat, the air was pungent with the smell of dried fish and the early morning 32 degree heat did nothing to lessen the smell. The sea/lake, beautiful blue sky and the mountains in the distance made for some spectacular riding.

With the temperature at 37 degrees and 90km complete we set off for Danang via the Hai Van pass. I was told we will climb for 10km, as we started the climb I could see pigs being water boarded, perhaps they had opted for this versus being told to climb the pass??? ... With the words of Harrison in my head 'dad, don't give up and fly like the wind' and Will's 'dad, ride like a unicorn' I set off with a vision of the flying Tristar horse in my head, only now the horse is a unicorn. The start was OK but the climb got gradually harder, I  crossed the 100km mark for the day, and in my head I knew I was now at 904km in total for the entire ride, fantastic!! Exactly where I want to be, week 2 will be easier...and then I saw a sign, a very cruel sign, it simply stated that Ho Chi Minh City was 991km away!! I was crushed. It was a cruel blow, how could the mountain do this?! but thinking back to the words of Harrison and Will I rose up off my seat screaming some random obscenities to the mountain to become that flying unicorn. As the mountain road got even harder for the remaining few km's of the climb, in my head I was absolutely confident that the English translation of Hai Van is Female dog.

 The top

The top

All three of us made it to the top and I am extremely proud of everyone, a phenomenal effort.

Whilst observing the view from the top and the beautiful couple having their very grand pre wedding photographs shot, I had a coffee, it was the sweetest most enjoyable coffee I have had in a while I didn't think anything of it, I just enjoyed.

As I headed down the other side of the Hai Van I felt like Barry Sheen, I flew down the mountain, overtaking motorbikes, finding the right line for the corners and throwing my increasingly less weight into each corner, it was wonderful, and I didn't want it to end, I was hoping at the bottom there would be a chairlift to take us back to the top with our bikes (great way to do 1600kms!!) but alas there wasn't... Good business idea though :)

We rode towards Danang and then suddenly something happened, my peddling became fast, rhythmic and effortless, I had cycled 915km in the past week but it had never felt like this, I was flying, it felt like I had a rocket booster, the km's flew by and it was no effort, everyone else seemed in slow motion and I was flying, and I couldn't understand why, I should be lethargic but I am the opposite, and then I thought about what it could be, had I overdone the gels again? No... Have I eaten anything to give me this energy? .. No, and then it came to me, the coffee at the top of the Hai Van, whatever was in that coffee needs to be bottled sold and potentially tested by the world anti doping agency, if it hadn't been for the Lightning all around us I could possibly still be cycling today!!

We checked into our hotel (which resembles a hospital) for the night. Upon returning from a huge pasta meal in the beautiful old town of Hoi An we found that whilst we were away our hospital hotel had been transformed into a mental asylum with rave music blaring and lunatics jumping into the pool. I refrained from jumping in, but from the look in Ronnie's eye I think he may have headed back down there...

 Hotel Hospital

Hotel Hospital

 Where's Ronnie..

Where's Ronnie..

Well done Aji and Mike, you are both superstars. 

Tomorrow will be a special day. (UPDATE was... I will post tomorrow)

Thanks for making a difference and helping save a life.


Day 6: Phong Nga to Hue, 165km. TOTAL 805.6km.

John Denver. 4 weddings and too many funerals. Resilience & Beauty. Fit for a King. The story of Day 6..

What a day, thank you all so much for your words of encouragement after yesterday's shocker. What I failed to highlight yesterday is that after the day I had experienced I couldn't stay in a shared, no aircon room, with mattress on floor, in a homestay - which was the plan. I told the guide to take me to a hotel and it was the best decision I have made thus far. A decent meal and a good sleep in the best bed on the trip meant I woke up feeling good and ready to shake yesterday Taylor was repeatedly telling me at 5:30am. 

With Spud firmly back in the saddle we set off and thankfully today our guide could ride with me, the bike was rolling well (my performance has nothing to do with me, it's whether the bike is rolling well) and I quickly got into a great groove. As we headed out of Phong Nha the remnants of the war were evident to see, every rice paddy has huge craters in them, these craters are from the bombs which were dropped during the war. As we got to 30km I was immediately taken back to a place as a child; country England and the strong smell of Hay and cut grass, the smell took me immediately to a time when I would walk in fields and play poo sticks over little bridges. This lasted for around 20km when the next smell hit me, the distinct smell of Gum Trees. I couldn't have scripted it, a real flash back to a wonderful time as a child and then a smell so distinct to our future in Australia, with these thoughts in mind and a very long country road ahead of me, the lyrics to the John Denver song played through my head loud and clear... ‘Country road take me home to the place I belong’...  To be honest I wasn't thinking about Australia or England, I was thinking about the Nam Hai in Danang and that ridiculously opulent villa Ms Miller is currently staying in, that's where I was wanting to belong at the 50km mark this morning!!

 Bomb Craters in Rice fields

Bomb Craters in Rice fields

The scenery along the road was again beautiful, but this was surpassed with the people whom we saw and met along the way. I saw some children riding home from school and as I rode alongside them and said hello, they went faster, so I asked them if they wanted a race, not being understood I said it more loudly and slowly in English because as we know from previous experience this works... Quickly realising again Brit abroad does not work, I shouted the words Go Go Go... and we were off, a full on race with all the kids, smiles on faces and laughter all around it was again a magical experience. 

 Big kid racing with the little kids

Big kid racing with the little kids

A little further along the road, two women were drying the rice they had collected from their field this morning, it is such tough work in such tough conditions but you would never think it from the smiles on the faces of these women, these women are incredible.


With 100km complete I stopped, and from the sound of old school techno, Karaoke and men shouting Mot Hai Ba Yo (1,2,3 skull your drink) I knew we were near a wedding. As I was packing up my gear I could see Ronnie in sign language discussion with a smartly dressed man; Ronnie was being invited into the wedding. I could see him politely refusing and he quickly got into the van. I got in and asked him what happened, he told me the bloke had invited him in, so I asked, why didn't you go and have a look? quick as a flash he responded, “I was frightened I might end up down the aisle with one of the village women from yesterday”. Brilliant.

As we crossed the DMZ into Quang Tri we learned about the horrific stories of the war and the hundreds of thousands of lives that were tragically lost in the very area we were riding through. This area was the most heavily bombed during the war and thousands of bombs and land mines remain unexploded. There have been far too many funerals in this part of the world..

As we cycled towards the ancient capital of Hue we passed some truly magical places; with the smell of incense sticks lingering in the air we rode through little old villages with temples and pagodas, people were playing and washing in the river, men were playing pétanque, farmers were taking their hens, geese and chickens home, men were finishing their long hard days in the field and one man in particular got my attention, he was carrying two huge bales of hay over his shoulders, it was 4:30pm and 34 degrees, his trailer was full of hay and he had been doing this all day. I thought to myself, whenever you think you're having a bad you're not, it's easy, this is tough. The people who live in this part of the world are remarkably tough, they live in a beautiful part of the world and make the most of everything they have, the genuine smiles on their faces clearly illustrate they are happy...Wonderful people in a wonderful county.

 4.30pm, 34 degrees. Two bales of Hay over each shoulder and look at what he has already put in his trailer. Wow.

4.30pm, 34 degrees. Two bales of Hay over each shoulder and look at what he has already put in his trailer. Wow.

 Petanque in the streets

Petanque in the streets

 Kids playing and washing in the river

Kids playing and washing in the river

Entering into the imperial city of Hue through the old walls was spectacular, as was the sight of the forbidden city. The finest coffee in Vietnam is supposedly here in Hue. The French brought their best coffee here for the King and supposedly the best coffee is still here, I look forward to trying tomorrow.



Upon arriving at our hotel I couldn't believe my eyes, the hotel room is definitely fit for a King, we have literally gone from the ridiculous (including Spring mattresses with no filling) to this! Unbelievable!


Hopefully I sleep well tonight as we are off to Hoi An tomorrow for Day 7, Aji and Mike riding too, it should be good. 

Thank you all so much for your support, today you made a huge difference to me.




Day 5 : Vinh to Phong Nha, 133.1km. TOTAL : 649.6km.

A tough day, I went cold turkey from energy gels and chews and felt like I was wearing lead boots and cycling through quicksand all day. It was tough, but the training is paying off, and brilliant messages from Harrison and Will this morning kept me going throughout the day. Tomorrow I'm back on the gels and chews and have already booked myself into the Priory on my return.

I've been going at a good pace and unfortunately our Guide couldn't do the ride today, and with Aji back in Saigon and Mike and Jon yet to join I was on my own with plenty of time in deep thought. As I rode along in my lead boots I felt like Forrest Gump running through the country, and I thought of his quote 'life is like a box of chocolates' , I thought about the children we are trying to help and it struck me that these children don't yet have good and bad chocolates, and what we are trying to do together is put chocolate back in their box of life. With a nod to the recently deceased Gene Wilder I thought about the magical childhood movie Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory, and considered that is what we are doing... 

The scenery today was beautiful... I rode through tea plantations, rice paddies and corn fields in a fair amount of bottom has unfortunately not gone numb and the pain is unique! As I finished riding past a tea plantation I saw a couple of wild dogs sprinting at me with their teeth out, irrespective of the fact I haven't had a rabies shot I was off the seat of the saddle (which actually felt great) and was able to sprint away from them, I sat back in the saddle to more pain and carried on up the road, in front of me was yet another hill to climb, deep inside my head I groaned and started to climb slowly, then out of the corner of my right eye I saw something moving very fast towards me, two more wild dogs, this time bigger, faster and again teeth out, I tried to sprint away but couldn't as I was climbing a hill, they were onto me, the fastest one moved to the side of me with his teeth out ready to bite my leg, knowing I couldn't get out run him I steered my bike towards him to scare him but it only fired him up, with more aggression and teeth out he ran at me, with adrenaline pumping I un clipped my right lead boot ready to show this angry little critter that today is not a good day to do this, and with all the power I could muster I swung my foot at his huge angry teeth, he ducked, rolled and thankfully stopped. I carried on out of my saddle for the next 5 kms! 

By chance where we stopped for the day was a little village, the people and children of this village come out to see what was going on. Ronnie wanted to give the local children the sweets he had bought earlier in the day so we went over to say hello, as soon as we got there I think the local villagers had Ronnie mistaken for Tom Jones, he was literally mauled by all the women, they were over him!! I had to prize him away and as we left in the van he was muttering how nice the village looked and perhaps he could spend longer in Vietnam.. 

Whilst we were with the people from the village we explained why we are doing and why, and having taken the learnings that sign language and speaking English very slowly does enable effective communication in a foreign country we used our tour guide to explain what we are doing. Everyone who came out thanked you, the people who are donating to help people like them in real need of help, for me they told me to get back onto the bike and get it done!! 

Day 6 and Hue tomorrow. 

Thanks for helping to put the chocolate back in.


 The people from the village where we stopped... 

The people from the village where we stopped... 

 Tom Jones..

Tom Jones..

 Beautiful limestone mountains and caves of Phong Nga

Beautiful limestone mountains and caves of Phong Nga



 My friend with a big smile who rode with me for a while, I wished I could speak Vietnamese

My friend with a big smile who rode with me for a while, I wished I could speak Vietnamese

 The first snake spotted

The first snake spotted

Everywhere we go we tell our story, these men thanked us for helping their people.

Keep going...

Day 4 : Ninh Binh to Vinh, 145.3km. TOTAL 516.5km

Woke up to Taylor telling me to shake it off, but all I could do was shake.. I looked in the mirror and I looked washed out with my body shaking, I looked like Spud from Trainspotting - the substance abusing junkie, and then I realised... I've been abusing the energy gels, riddled with the shakes, I decided to go cold turkey for today's ride, no gels, no chews, just berocca, coffee and water... The ride was fantastic, it went in a blur, all 145km..., literally it was a blur, I got sweat into my contact lenses and they blurred, I changed them 3 times, same thing, the entire ride a blur. From what I saw the Ho Chi Minh Trail seemed nice with rolling hills and farms on each side, the occasional late swerve around cattle and the confronting smell of Eau de Poo meant there was plenty of livestock around too, the hills were tough and long but thankfully I couldn't see how far I had to go up them so I just kept going at full tilt. We ended the ride in an industrial town, and a kid and his mate in front of me went straight over their handlebars onto the hard tarmac below, not knowing if I had contributed in any way shape or form to this crash I stopped to see if they were OK, they smiled, to ease my guilt (just in case it was my fault) I went to give them a chocolate oat brownie from my Camelbak, but in my blurred vision I'm pretty sure I accidentally gave them a couple of packets of my unused caffeinated chews.. 

Ronnie and I had a late dinner, desperately seeking a good restaurant we searched Trip advisor for the hottest restaurant in Vinh. I was a very hot and spacious restaurant, about 40 degree hot...again Trip Advisor was right!

Day 5 today, off to Phong Nha.

Thanks for making a difference and helping save the lives of children in very desperate need of help.




Day 3 : Cuc Phuong to Ninh Binh, 99.1km. TOTAL 371.2km

School runs, Traffic Jams, and King Kong... The story of Day 3.

Awoken by the sound of Taylor in my ear and fueled by super strength coffee in the national park, we quickly ascended the 15% gradients under the cool jungle canopy. The sound of monkeys screaming and birds singing as we sped through the early sunrise mist was a truly spectacular way to start Day 3.

As we left the national park we went further off-road, it didn't matter that my shock absorbers were fixed I was again riding a pneumatic drill! We rode into small villages where children were heading off to start their school week in their best uniforms, with huge smiles and loud Hello's they started chasing after us, a truly magical moment.

The sight of the children going to school quickly reminded me it's Monday and my first day of annual leave, I was thinking how thankful I was not to be stuck in a traffic jam in HCMC, only to be stuck in one literally 10 mins later!! Whilst we could navigate the traffic in a similar manner to the motorbikes of HCMC, poor Ronnie in the support van was stuck behind the stubborn cattle for more than 20 minutes :) 

As we headed further into rural countryside past an area where King Kong was filmed I got into a beautiful trance like rhythm, the pain in my bottom had numbed for more than 3 minutes and I had started to zone out... and then suddenly something got my attention, something huge in the road, at first I assumed it was a small dog and swerved quickly, I managed to stay on my bike, but when I looked back I couldn't believe it. Clearly King Kong is alive and well because there is no way a water buffalo could have given birth to that thing and survived such an obviously traumatic birth. With adrenaline pumping through my veins I grabbed a drink but was too late to warn this poor motorist... 

King Kong.jpg

We continued through the countryside, seeing people neck deep in water catching snails.. a very hard way to earn a living... this lady sells the locally caught Snails to markets in Hanoi for only 6,000 VND per KG (0.26 US cents). 


We continued our journey riding past the largest pagoda in South East Asia and past the first Vietnamese citadel, two incredible sights but nothing compared to what I saw next... if I ever think I’m doing it tough on the bike I will remind myself of this guy. What a superstar!



Day 4 & Vinh tomorrow....

Thanks for making and difference and helping save a life.


Here are some more images of a wonderful day in a magical country.

 This is the scene almost everywhere, it is truly magical.

This is the scene almost everywhere, it is truly magical.

 The family that invited me into their home on Day 2 - wonderful people, so very kind

The family that invited me into their home on Day 2 - wonderful people, so very kind

Day 2 : 120km Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong. Total 272.1km

Another beautiful but tough day in Vietnam. I had an interesting 5am wake-up alarm today, I swear I set ‘Shake it Off’ as the song to wake me up, but perhaps I accidentally set it to Apple’s newly introduced ringtone ‘trying to hock up my left toe-nail’, perhaps this came in the last automatic iOS update, nevertheless I shall be writing to Apple to ask them to change it, I’ve reset it again for tonight, let’s see what happens.. 

We started the morning at 6.30am in Mai Chau and headed off into villages time forgot, people here live very simply and very happily. Along the way we passed through flooded rivers, mud tracks, orange farms, rice paddies and numerous fields filled with sugarcane, corn and tea, truly beautiful and when I get to post the videos you will see. Unfortunately for me, during this beautiful ride my shock absorbers stopped working so for the remaining 100km today I literally rode a pneumatic drill! It’s only Day 2 but does anyone know where you can buy triple padded shorts?..

The kindness of the Vietnamese people was experienced in abundance today, approximately 85km into the ride it was 39 degrees, I stopped by a house in a very rural area and was struggling, the family came out, smiles on their faces and greeted me, inviting me into their home for a drink. Incredible. Via sign language and talking slowly in English (?!?! ... I am a Brit abroad) I very badly tried to tell them the story of cyclefor16, and I think their smiles and thank you’s mean’t they understood what we are doing, or now to think of it, perhaps it was thank you now please leave... when I upload the videos you will see this beautiful family.

One other observation from the day is the size of Water Buffalo poo’s... they are huge!! If I hit a crusty 3 day old Water Buffalo poo I’m going straight over the top of my handlebars and probably into one which is 5 metres in front (hopefully not another 3 day old crusty... if I’m lucky a warm 3 hour old one sans flies), they’re everywhere! at one point it was as if I was riding through a mine field of Water Buffalo poo. 

We finished the day at 5pm, another climb to end the day, I don’t recall recruiting Vietnam Sadomasochism Cycling tours, but 2 out of 2 is rough! 

To end the day, Ronnie and I celebrated fathers day in a fantastic restaurant, according to Trip Advisor it is spacious, and represents the Cuc Phuong national park. From the picture below you can see that the restaurant is indeed spacious, and no doubt the long-tailed rodent represented the nearby national park, Trip Advisor was right.

I managed to get the drone up in the air today briefly, here are a couple of shots..

Up at 6am for day 3 tomorrow, Cuc Phuong to Tam Coc.

Thanks for making a difference, and helping save a life.


 Beautiful rice paddies in magical Mai Chau - shot from the drone

Beautiful rice paddies in magical Mai Chau - shot from the drone

 Our village in Mai Chau - shot from the drone

Our village in Mai Chau - shot from the drone

 sorry... I couldn't help myself, they really are HUGE and a potential danger to cyclists :)

sorry... I couldn't help myself, they really are HUGE and a potential danger to cyclists :)

 Spacious and representing the national park - Ronnie was chuffed :)

Spacious and representing the national park - Ronnie was chuffed :)

Day 1 : Hanoi to Mai Chau. 152.1 km. An emotional day.

Wow, what a day.  A day filled with so many emotions.. with love, joy and happiness at the fore and fear and wonder closely following behind. 

The love, joy and happiness comes from what we are achieving together, it is amazing, having Nic, Harrison & Will with me was so fantastic and important as their support, input, understanding and love is why we have been able to do this. 

The fear and wonder comes from what lies ahead over the next 15 days...

Day 1 was simply amazing. We started at 6.30am in Hanoi and fueled on by so much love and support, pent up anxiety, and Vietnamese coffee I managed to ride 152.1km finishing in Mountainous Mai Chau 11 hours later, with Ronnie giving words of encouragement and cheering me on from the support vehicle. As I have experienced throughout the training rides, the Vietnamese people are so so friendly, today everywhere I rode there were smiles, waves, hello’s and in the middle of a very rural area a magical high-five from a boy with a huge smile who was no older than Harrison. The landscape was simply indescribable, I can’t do it justice, I have taken some footage and will post on this blog in the next few days. 

Upon arrival in my accommodation for the night, my final emotion of the day was Jealousy....Jealousy at Lisa Miller’s 3 bedroom serviced apartment in Ho Chi Minh City which no doubt has a very comfortable bed, air-conditioning and a warm shower :) 

A brilliant day, thank you all so much for your support, your kind words and for making a difference. Looking forward to Day 2.. 



 The final few km's into Mountaneous Mai Chau 

The final few km's into Mountaneous Mai Chau 

 The helmet is a little far back James..

The helmet is a little far back James..

 Our start in Hanoi

Our start in Hanoi

 Lisa Miller!! 

Lisa Miller!! 

 our little critter at dinner Angela..

our little critter at dinner Angela..

 Part 1

Part 1

 Part 2

Part 2

 what a view!! Mai Chau from the final descent 

what a view!! Mai Chau from the final descent