In stark contrast to the ride into Dalat, which involved crossing the Phlegethon, where torrential rains and mountain climbs were the least of woes; the ride out was positively a treat.
Sun shines through the evergreens. From the road, you can catch glimpses into the valley. Slow down and savour the moment. Inhale deeply. For a second the smell brings you home. Soft pine, cool fresh air. Look to prolong this place for an eternity, to disappear into the forest. Mixed emotions. It is a beautiful day for a ride, but leaving this town feels like leaving home. Love the mountains. Glide gently downhill. Unhurried. Feel the wind on your legs, sun on your face. Paradise.
Pedal out of the mountains and into the valley. Fields on either side bordered by tall, hulking masses. Brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds. The weather is on your side. The country is beautiful.
Start pedaling up again. The sun is hot. Stop for juice- C hai, please. Stretch out in a hammock. Let the traffic fade away.
Go to pull bike bike out and there is resistance. Look down.
Not one, but two. Flat. Tires.
With purpose, move methodically, unstrap all the bags. The guys playing pool point fingers down the road, a Xe May. Smile. I’ve got this. Don’t need him. Unpack the tools. Unclip the breaks. Unhitch the front wheel, unbolt the back. Pull out the tires. Laziness in Dalat bites me in the ass, the spares still have holes.
Thuan comes to help. Together we are a pit crew, working fast.Out with the old, patch the holes, in with the new. Pump, pump, pump and they’re in. Know I’ve held my own because Thuan shakes my hand and hands over a beer, while I bungie everything back to the bike. Mot, hai, ba, yo! Thuan starts shotgunning his beer. Laugh heartily. Alright Thuan, we’ll do this your way- bottoms up, cul sec. Before leaving give Thuan the most awkward since junior high. Cam on, man.
Get back on the road, pedal up under the hot sun. The alignment on bike bike’s brakes are totally fuxxored. She is chirping like a bird. Hop off and tinker around. The ear piercing singing fades. Tiredness creeps in. Like magic, the playlist I’m listening to pounds some old favorites. Let the dance party begin. Sean Paul. Mamas and Papas. Offspring. Tom Waits. A smile spreads across my face. Legs find some motivation. Thank you, you knew just what I needed.
Pedal power town into the nearest town. Decide save last 30k we had planned for tomorrow and repair some more holes.
It’s been a day. Not a bad one though. 🙂