5 January 2012
The wind's really been the story of the past few days. Without it, I'd have spent a lot more energy getting to Nha Trang. Against it, these distances would have been hard. But today's blowout was of a different kind.
About 23km down, I pull over to munch a baguette and guzzle a milk. I'm off the bike, and opening my left pannier when I hear a loud bang. I'm surprised at how rationally and calmly my mind first suggested a backfire, and then discounted that theory in favour of a tyre blowout. It then calmly moved on to "That driver's got to keep that truck under control" shortly followed by "This could be it." I turn around to find the massive truck across the other side of the road, braking hard, with its front offside tyre pancake flat. It comes to a halt. A motorbike driver parked across the road babbles nervously at me - he was much closer to the action. I make a 'phew!' gesture. He concurs. Now that the main national highway has been reduced to one lane in the immediate vicinity, I decide to take my sandwich further down the road.
At 30km or so, I find myself going uphill. The road's torn up, trucks are all over the place, and they're doing roadworks near the top. While it's steep in places, no need for granny, and it's over in no time. As I crest the pass, it's clear I've returned to the sea - a wide, blue natural harbour opens in front of me. The descent tracks along the coastal heights - a succession of ocean vistas has me stopping again and again to take photos.
My second sandwich is a lot less eventful than the first at about 55km, though my parked bike nearly blows over in the crosswind. The baguettes have death spread (local pâté) in them which is not what I'd expected. My belly starts feeling odd, and I keep trying to tell myself it's just the chillies rather than any rapidly multiplying nasties.
I'm in some sort of doldrum state, and I try to analyse what's not going right. Fundamentally, I think I've just done a bunch of kilometres since I last rested. I could be better at hydration. The baguettes. The disruption to rhythm from the hill and the photos... When I pound a warm Pepsi, I find the answer: caffeine. The strength back in my legs, I wind up into a solid cruise again.
10km out from Nha Trang, I turn seawards. There's a minor coastal road that'll add a handful of kilometres, but hopefully make up for it with scenery. Having missed the opportunity for this kind of detour a couple of days ago, I'm well pleased to find this one work out perfectly: great surface, almost zero traffic, sea views, a small fishing village. I pull up to take photos next to freshly sealed coracles - the smell is oily, but soaked through with pine aromas. I see some serious cyclists out for a group ride. They all get a wave.
This detour takes me straight onto Nha Trang's beach road. I track along it to the south, where I know all the cheapy backpacker hotels are. A moto driver leads me to a couple of places he's obviously going to get a commission, and then asks for a buck from me too. He doesn't get it. Hope my bike's still there tomorrow.
133km, 24.7km/h, 5hr22min, 3428km