Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The ups and downs of cycling

I think the resident restaurant dog enjoyed our breakfast more than us. The kids in the living come dining area were certainly enjoying the cartoons that blared out on the TV. Ah, another day in paradise. 7.45, time to hit the road.

4km up, 3 down. 2 up, 1 down.... Whats the difference?! Suffice to say we're in the mountains and that's what mountain roads do. We began to not take much notice to be honest. A lovely stretch of down only meant the inevitable. 

After 30km we reached the T junction where we'd turn north for the final 130 odd km up to Luang Prabang. It was quite emotional. I never thought we'd make it this far but if everything keeps going like this I reckon we'll just about make it.
Francois, a young french Canadian guy cruising about on a $200 motorbike he'd bought in Vietnam met us as we ate. We'd already said goodbye to him twice but kept bumping into him again. Nice guy, gentle and easy going. Kind of like a 60 year old hippy but only 25. He wasn't trying to be cool, he was just cruising.

Powered by fried rice we rode on. Up, down, up, down..... It was hot again. 

We were cheated out of a couple of decent long downhill sections by bad potholes and roadworks. We came around a corner at about 35km/h to meet this. No signs, no warning, just good brakes

We slogged on. 

You don't get the opportunity too often to call something a fat pig without offending do you?

All these little mountain villages are pretty damn basic. they all have power but people seem to build their houses and shops out of just about anything to hand. There are breeze block or brick ones, some rendered & painted. Others (most) are wooden framed clad in anything from thick hardwood planks, woven palm fronds or 44 gallon oil drums that have been hammered flat and nailed on. The roofs are mainly corrugated cement sheet and also corrugated iron (tin, for the Aussies reading). We don't like to take photos in the villages, it feels too much like an invasion of privacy so you'll just have to take our word for it. (Got a sneaky shot today)

The people are all friendly. The men are either working or lolling about drinking beer. We always get an offer to join them! Err, no thanks! The women are ALL working.  Most say hello, others look at us with a kind of "what are you silly buggers up to?" Kind of face.

By about 6pm we crawled up a long, endless b@stard hill to a little town that apparently had a guest house. LTD digs for sure. 

80km in total today with an average of 12.5 inc 2 slow long downhills. Not too shabby...

Fried egg with sticky rice and a cup of hot coffee followed by a 20km downhill wasn't a bad start to the day. 

Near the top of a 15km climb we met another French cyclist and stopped for about an hour, chatting in the shade. 

More French, this time on a tandem at the bottom of the next hill gave us the nod on a little guesthouse in the next town so we'll call it a day there. We're only a out 30km south of Luang Prabang but would rather not arrive there late and knackered. So, although we didn't actually do it we could have completed Phonsavan to Luang Prabang in 3 days!!!! That probably means nothing to anyone reading this but it means a hell if a lot to us!

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