6 December 2011
"The ones who are brave enough to face the mountains will not be disappointed." Jesse put in his GoKunming write-up of this leg. He's right, I'm not disappointed. I am, however, not far short of convinced that that was the hardest day I've ever spent on a bicycle.
I got up at 6am, and rolled out around 6:40am. The only friend I had on this terrain was time - I thought it best to bring a bunch of it. I spent eight and a half hours cycling today. That's a full day at the office. Most office days don't have Southeast Asian sunshine and 3500m of climbing thrown in for good measure.
This ride was originally intended to be split over two days, with the break coming at Kiu Kacham. Instead, Kiu Kacham was my lunch stop, with 79km on the clock. By then, I'd already dealt with the day's two major climbs, the second of which took me up 1000m. Jesse had described the 50km after Kiu Kacham as "breezy" (quotes are his) which I took to mean that it was easier than the earlier section, but still challenging. Too right. Until the last bend that takes you down into town, there's no escape from climbing.
Phou Khoun is nowhere. It has a road junction. I was so done for, I just grabbed the first place to stay, fed, and crashed for an early night.
130km, 15.2km/h, 8hr30min, c.e.g. 3497m, 1522km