Day 14, a 51 kilometer cycle from P’rao to Thạnh Mỹ, got off to a late start thanks to strange circumstances.
Upon arriving in P’rao the day before we had found out that every hotel in the town was full thanks to some sort of farming conference.
We had a hard time believing that many people would visit such a nondescript place, but there really wasn’t a room to be had.
After discussing our options we decided to pile into the support vans for a three hour drive down a narrow, pitch-black road to Đà Nẵng, the nearest location where we knew there would be available rooms.
Our bikes stayed behind in P’rao.
On the morning of day 14 we had to get breakfast in Đà Nẵng, drive back and collect our bikes, before finally setting off around noon.
It was hot and humid, and there were a handful of climbs to deal with along the way.
Fortunately they were nothing compared to what he had already handled the day before.
We passed a couple of dams and plenty of beautiful scenery, and a cooling rain shower moved in just in time for the last climb.
This meant the downhill into Thạnh Mỹ was a major adrenaline rush, as the wet road combined with my terrible brakes made for scary corners.
The rest of the team rolled in shortly after me, and the consensus was that this had been a great day of riding. We even managed to find a roller disco near our hotel, where a shirtless construction worker showed off some serious dance skills.
The next day was another short one, 57km to Khâm Đức.
We were nearing the Central Highlands, and the heat was becoming intense.
The first half of the ride was mostly flat, and I really enjoyed the scenery.
When I did the ride last year this day had been miserable, full of rain and low clouds that obscured everything.
This time we could see the mountains, as well as a waterfall just off the Hồ Chí Minh Highway where we stopped to cool down.
The most difficult climb of the day came shortly after this break, but an amazing view at the top made it worth it.
We arrived in Khâm Đức and stopped at a ramshackle restaurant at the edge of town, which we quickly discovered had a lake behind it.
We decided to spend the afternoon there, lounging in the grass, drinking beer and eating great food.
This was just what we needed after the two lengthy days in the mountains.
By MICHAEL TATARSKI