Cycling Day 82 – Lien Son to Dinh Van
Today was a day we had been somewhat saving ourselves for, with a rest day and a fairly straightforward day leading up to it. From looking at other people’s elevation profiles and maps, we had seen that the route was not only over 100km long, but had several long sustained climbs to make things even harder. Our original plan had us splitting the day up by staying in the amusingly named Dam Rong, but we had decided to push all the way through to Dinh Van in the Lam Ha area just below Dalat. We were a bit more organised than usual today, getting up with the aim to leave by 7am and also checking out the weather, with strong cross winds predicted all day.
We spent a bit of time in the morning going round the local market in Lien Son to pick up some banh mi and some bananas (these make great energy food and they are pretty cheap, usually under 5c each!), as well as making sure we had enough water. The route was supposed to be fairly simple as Highway 27 went all the way there. We did have one confusing point where our GPS map, google maps and the actual direction of the roads were all telling us something different. It turns out the highway had been redirected to make it a little longer but take out some of the more extreme hills, which was fine with us! We spent a little bit of time at the intersection checking out each of our options before deciding on the new road, which was actually pretty nice. Our mobile reception has been slightly patchy in a few places up in the mountains (still about three hundred times better than in the US) so we were quite fortunate to be able to consult the online maps when we needed to.
We stopped for a late morning pho and had our first real communication failure – we thought we had ordered and the owner was just waiting for the pho to heat up. In actual fact she had not realised that we wanted any food and we were just sitting around doing nothing! Having eventually fished out the Vietnamese for “How long will the food be?” from the phrasebook, we worked out that she wasn’t making anything for us and went down the road to get something else. The big seven hundred metre climb was broken by a flat bit in the middle, and the two climbs seemed strangely easy, despite having already one 60 km over rolling terrain in the morning. This was by far the day with the most climbing that we will do on the whole trip, but our legs are definitely getting stronger and they handled it without too many complaints. We do have another big climb up into Dalat tomorrow so I’m trying not to get too over confident just yet.
As usual, the big climbs were accompanied by some breathtaking scenery, so we did stop quite a bit to get photos. There were quite a few tourists doing the same route on motorbikes – it is always satisfying to see the shock on their face when they see you pushing the heavy bike up the crazy hills. We weren’t sure how many places there would be to stay along the way but there were several options, including in between the two big hills so for anyone else riding along this route, you definitely don’t have to do this whole day as one. We stopped for a drink at the very top and then rolled all the way down into Dinh Van.