We all woke a little weary but surprisingly, besides the normal aches and pains that riding 90 kms will bring, with no real physical concerns.
Today was going to be a whole lot easier than yesterday, just 35km with no ‘pass’ crossings. We were pumped! (pardon the pun – he he)
I hadn’t really prepared myself for day 2 (being a little pre-occupied with day 1!) so I had no idea of what we were up for. The whole day was a bag of mixed emotions, fear and anxiety, backed up with joy and elation. The day certainly delivered.
Day 2 saw us welcome a new guide, Chuong, who was just brilliant. He was a local Hue-ian who not only knew his city well but also had great pleasure in sharing it with us. He was also a very competent rider who took the role of Jed’s protector, putting himself between Jed and the crazy, chaotic city traffic the whole way. To say he put his body on the line is not an understatement. Both Liam and I were so very grateful that we had him as our leader … and more so as Jed’s protector.
The sequence of riders went as follows – Chuong then Jed following closely behind or side by side in the peak traffic … Liam with Deni tagged on behind him … then me at the rear. (Which explains the general theme of todays pic – ‘rear-view’ shots!)
The first section was absolutely mad, mad, MAD! As soon as we pedaled out of the Hotel carpark we were swallowed up by the swarm of tooting, puffing and unpredictable traffic. We somehow melded in and became a part of this hive and buzz of scooters and tuktuks and buses and trucks. We pedaled madly over bridges, under bridges and through the streets of Hue city, so close to the scooters next to us that our handle bars were just inches away from touching, their front tyres almost kissing our back ones. I swear I could feel the breath of the riders on my neck. All the while Chueng used himself to box Jed in between himself and the railing. Liam rode solidly behind him, never missing a beat. It was crazy, and frightening and so intense that it’s almost impossible to describe. My heart is pumping faster just thinking about it, I feel sick! My screams of fear and warning got swallowed up in the insane level of noise. Then … somehow we got spat out at the other end, and while shaking our heads at the insanity of what we had just experienced, and taking a moment to catch our breath, we found ourselves faced with another set of challenges – intersections and roundabouts!
While I was writing this I asked Liam to explain his experience for me, not only for his take on the situation but also to know that I wasn’t alone in just how intense it all was. He reflected my thoughts perfectly and we both decided that, if, before we embarked on this ride, we were to consider the dangers that our kids faced during this time we NEVER would have allowed them to do it, they would have been on that cosy bus chatting happily with Mr Money – the whole way! But we were in very capable hands and our faith in Chuong, which grew expediential by the minute, actually ever precious second, got us through.
Jed’s natural ability on a bike was astounding. He didn’t falter. He braked when necessary – not too much not too little. He kept his wits about him, took direction and maneuvered his way through one intensely challenging situation after another. He really is my hero!
Now, you might have been thinking, all this time, what about Miss Deni? This whole section, when our eyes resembled some mad psychedelic spin whizzing between hustling our own path and watching Jed’s every move, our little Miss Deni sat happily upon her tag-along bike. She was so comfortable sitting there behind her Daddy, scooters buzzing along beside her and behind her. Maybe that was her secret – no stress, hold on tight and go with the flow. She showed her true nature – placid, and quietly content. God bless her precious heart!
The next 25k’s were a breeze! This was the ride that I had played in my mind, the images that allowed me to embark on this ride – wide open spaces, roads through villages, quiet backstreet tracks with birds tweeting and rivers flowing. (true!) My heart beat returned to normal and the adrenaline that had been pulsating through my body moments earlier turned to an immense feeling of gratitude. I laughed and almost cried, my face hurt from smiling. This was also our reward!
One of the fond memories I’ll take from this ride will be of the local people and their reaction to our little touring team. It was almost always like this … they would notice Deni’s fluro flag ‘What is THAT? Then they’d realize that there was a sweet little ‘western’ girl attached to that flag – their faces would light up and they would either squeal with delight or the fellas would give a huge ‘thumbs up’ … then they’d see the very strange kind of bike that was attached to another bike … looks of confusion … then they see the ‘Daddy’ towing her along … more big smiles … then, to top it all off, they would noticed the 4th team member, a little boy on a little bike with a fierce look of determination, leading the charge. At this point their reaction was gold. There were hoots and ‘woohoo’s’ and toots and more squealing. Men hung out of truck windows pumping their fists in the air and Mummas with kids slowed down to point us out and give big waves. Several people rode alongside us, smiling and laughing all the way, some even went ahead so as they could stop and take photos as we rode by. There was no better place to be than at the back of the pack that day. I laughed alongside them all and I felt so damn proud to be part of this little touring family.
From the onset our little Miss Deni was fearless, sitting there on her little tag-along bike, trailing behind her daddy, fluro flag flying. Her sweet little face would turn around every few minutes just to check on her Mumma, her big bright smile lighting the way. She would turn her little legs over and over helping her daddy, and just as quickly start spinning her pedals backwards, yelling to me how she liked that funny clicking sound.
And our Jedabug, our brave and strong little Jedabug – what an absolute champion! I still can’t believe that our little boy of 8 years managed, not only to ride in excess of 60, possibly 70 k’s over 2 days, but that he also was brave enough to maneuver himself on his little bike through some of the craziest Vietnamese traffic that we’ve seen yet! And all of that with very little experience on a bike. Just an amazing effort from a very courageous little boy.
We finished our ride just after lunch, and it felt amazing.
These are the moments that we live for, taking a challenge, allowing situations to evolve, and trusting .
On reflection, yes, it was a bold and brave decision to have our kids alongside us and not in the bus, but it was the best decision ever. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the skills they both learnt on that ride have created strong foundations for a lifetime of riding.
But what I noticed, especially with Jed, was that above and beyond the physical was a strong sense of self-confidence that grew inside his little body and mind. It was heartwarming to watch, every parents dream.
… That was all 4 days ago. How are we feeling now? Yep, my butt is still sore and calf muscles a little tender, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat! Liam has been researching tour bikes and I’m just waiting for the word to start the travel arrangements. We’ve discussed touring Australia before, and the idea of a Europe bike tour has also come up, but one things for sure, this ride has certainly opened up a whole new world of options … until then x