The last day of cycling finally arrived when we were awoken by a 5:00am alarm call followed by the horns and the traffic that was the busy outside, all night long! We had some 90 kilometres ahead of us today, so in true athletic preparation we got ourselves organised. Our bodies, especially certain parts of our anatomy that will remain nameless, are now in constant pain! This did not bode well for the day ahead! Breakfast was certainly an enlightening experience, not least that John Roberts turned up in a pair of cycling shorts that came with a volume control button! The food didn't improve by much either, the staff were somewhat confused as to why no one was trying the soup. As per usual, the omelettes were a very tasty option and were fondly consumed!
We were on the bus by 7:15am for our 2-hour transfer to meet up with our sturdy steeds for the final days cycle! The trip however did not go off without incident, El 'strong as an Ox' Hayward, somehow managed to break her seat in the coach - she's obviously been eating too many Weetabix! GI Guy Bolam came to her rescue and fixed the seat allowing El to continue with her sleep, a 'rollin and a rockin' type of snooze! The entertainment continued and about half an hour before the end of the journey, Zan and Dan, the local crew management, educated us in Vietnam marriage custom as it involves a Fortune Teller as well as singing to us, watch out for them on ‘Vietnam’s Got Talent’!
Arriving at our stop to meet our bikes, we had a ‘final day’ team photo shoot, before the warm up by a true gentleman and elder of the team, Mr Dave Sinclair! He entertained us with his jokes and then the infamous 'Geordie Butcha Dance' to get us stretched and warmed up but alas, the heat of the mid-morning sun was also now doing a great job!
Zan had warned us to cycle in groups as there were 'ferocious dogs' in the area but we had GI Guy to look after us accompanied by Bill Colson's rendition of 'Sunshine Mountain'!!! We cycled through quaint little villages where the children shouted 'hello' to practise their English and they also wanted to 'high five' us! We were all cycling at a pace and arrived at lunch having completed some 38 kilometres to enjoy a beautiful fish soup which certainly helped after the limitations of breakfast!
As we were only a matter of hours from finishing the challenge, we set off after lunch to complete the 60 remaining kilometres, much to Katie Wakeling’s delight when she found out that we had three hills to climb!!!!! The hills, when we did get to them, were a serious wake up. We all dug deep to gather our strength and a few of us even received some much-appreciated assistance, Ramon Puig had his first serious workout on this trip!
The penultimate water break came after the third serious hill, a very welcome respite from the warm winds as well as the scorching heat of the sun! Again, Miss Katie informed us that since she had nearly accomplished her cycle challenge, she was going to sell her bike on-line, donate her cycling clothes to charity (well she actually said she was going to burn them) and she was leaving her cycle helmet in Vietnam!
We eventually arrived 2 kilometres from the finish line where we regrouped with the ‘newbies’ El, Katie and Columb Convery to lead us to the finish line, where the crew gave us a rapturous and warm welcome, full of cheers! We hugged, kissed and gave each other much deserved 'pats on the back' for a job well done in completing another difficult cycle challenge. The crew who also worked very hard all week, were thanked with their gifts and a final team photo was taken!
I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their efforts today, it's great to be able to cycle again with my friends, after an unfortunate absence last year! I look forward to cycling again with you all next year and maybe even Katie will join us.