The Ride – Part 2:
Back in Vietnam, I try to figure out a good way to Plieku. There is an obvious choice, but, full of vinegar from the less-than-lawful border hopping, I choose a ‘road’ that that looks to be going roughly northeast.
It turns out to be a timber road. The kind of road only navigated by the kind of heavy equipment specifically designed for it. You know…..earthmovers and big cranes with arms and claws on them capable of moving five massive trees in one grab.
This is the worst goat track I’ve ever imagined. Some of the potholes are two meters deep. I am only thankful at this point that it’s not raining and the ruts have, for better or worse, hardened.
At one point the bike slides sideways into a pothole….a head-high pothole. The slide bends my footpeg almost straight up, to the point where I nearly can’t shift the bike anymore. For the rest of the day, it requires me to stand up and slam my foot down as hard as I can on the shift lever to change gears. But I did keep the bike upright.
This truly is the worst ‘road’ I’ve ever seen.
Then I go up and over a mountain. The same shit roads up and down at a 15% grade or more.
As sunset is approaching I realize that I’ve only 5kms or so to get to a town….hopefully there’s a place I can crash for the night there. Else, I am in my hammock on the mountain (and that’d be ok too).
As I enter town, I stop to get some gas. I ask the attendant for a “khach san” (hotel) and he indicates there is a hotel 10km away. I set off; thankfully before I’ve gone even 1km, I stop to look at the map and get my bearings. And then I hear the hiss.
It’s an aggressive release of air, so much so that I can easily hear it from atop the bike and over the sound of the engine. I get off and sure enough, I am losing air in the back tire. How the hell did this happen? I’ve just spent eight hours on the worst roads the continent can throw at me with no problems; but in the paved one kilometer from the gas station, I get a puncture.
The rate of air loss means I will certainly not make it 10kms, so I turn around. I didn’t make it half way back to the gas station. I had to push the bike. I asked where I can get repair. Apparently, I’d just passed a place about half a kilometer back (basically where I’d developed the flat). So I push the bike back there.
click below for next page