Stats: 116.8 mi, 9:34 hours, 12.2 mph avg
I did some extra work the day before to set myself up for an “easy” 188 km (117 miles) final ride into Hanoi. It would be the first day for a while that I wouldn’t be climbing some massive mountain, so I thought it would go pretty smoothly, but I was wrong. Just about everything else got in my way.
I got up at 5:30 AM and got on the road after eating some Oreos. Although I was in the mountains, I wasn’t at the top. There was a long, gradual climb, then some down, then more up. When I finally got on the descent, there was a thick fog all the way down. I could hardly see with the rain and fog on my glasses. When I got to the bottom, I had to start climbing another mountain all over again. On an empty stomach, it was a tough grind. On the descent of the second mountain, I passed a long line of stopped cars. There had been a rock slide, but luckily, the police let me ride through the road block. Boulders sat in the middle of the muddy road, but motorbikes and my bike were able to squeeze through.
It was a relief when I got out of the mountains and out of the fog. But as soon as I got on the flat, I had to fight the wind. Although I was pushing hard, I was crawling. Wind is probably the most frustrating thing when you’re cycling. With mountains, the agony is finite; you climb one side, and then you’re rewarded with the descent. But fighting the wind is endless.
The outskirts of Hanoi were disgusting. Gray, loud, garbage, stink. Heavy traffic and patchy road. I rode through the smoke from the small garbage fires burning on both sides of the road. The garbage chemicals and truck exhaust got to me. The people who called to me from the side of the road were really irritating, and a guy pulled up slowly in his car beside me and laughed when he looked at me. I started having violent thoughts towards the Vietnamese. When I got a disingenuous hello, I wanted to slash their throat. Blood on the streets on my final ride.
My body was exhausted and my head felt light by early afternoon. I hadn’t eaten, so I stumbled off my bike to get some fried rice. Then I drank two Cokes (I’ve had so much soda on this trip). I stopped again a few minutes later when I saw a fruit stand. I picked up an apple and asked the old lady how much. She held up four fingers, so I took a bite of the apple as I walked back to my bike to get 4,000 dong ($0.20). When I handed her the money, she shook her head. Now she wanted 10,000 dong ($0.50) – after I’d eaten some, of course. Although she didn’t understand my angry English, I think she understood that I was mad. Frustrated by dishonesty, I couldn’t look at her as I handed over the money.
In Hanoi, I arrived at the hotel where I had started the trip two month before. My ride was over, and no one was there recognize it, or celebrate it. It was a lonely, quiet victory. It felt good to be done.