Ride Captain’s Account – Preparing to Start

Ten stages in 11 days lay ahead. Full of chat and a little beer, we settled down to a bumpy night’s sleep on a train scheduled to reach its destination by 5am. At the appointed time, we awoke to mist-coated mountains, but were told the train, as is common here, was running a little late. On arrival, we gathered our day bags and disembarked, heading for breakfast and to begin the search for bikes whisked away at the airport and taken by truck to the start point.

By the time breakfast was eaten and our bikes built, we had become local celebrities. A crowd gathered to watch as 20 plus riders fettled newly unboxed bikes, made up energy drinks, and fretted about how-on-earth they where going to ride out of the station car park in one piece, let alone 850 miles across Vietnam’s northern provinces. A lot of sweat had been shed building the bikes and heat was a hot topic, if you’ll excuse the pun.

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