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.
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