The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/175212661 (don’t try this at home kids, unless you LIVE in Na Hang and need to be back for dinner)
A few stats – 82km; five and a half hours riding time (eight hours out in the sun); 1200m climbing. ALL FOR NOTHING!!! We’re almost over it, but writing about it now reopens the painful wounds so I’ll keep it brief…
It went something like this:
1) A few km after leaving hotel, GPS bleats ‘off course’ on a road with no turn-offs apparent – no choice but to press on
2) Realise 10km later up a steep hill that we’re WAY off course.
3) Ask lots of passing locals for direction to Viet Quang (our planned destination) – mixed advice, as ever
4) Press on
5) Road deteriorates and hills steepen
6) Press on – after all, there were no other options, right?
7) Ask more advice – blank faces at the mere mention of the nearby administrative town of Viet Quang
8) Press on
9) 40km in, the gravel track steepens to a sickening grade, and we turn around, to retrace our steps
10) We revisit the initial ‘off course’ point – a vague dead end track confirms this would never have flown
11) Pass a well constructed road bridge just 2km from the town – bearing onto this we note the road post markers match those on the paper map – WAY too late to embark on the ride with an hour of daylight remaining, so kicking ourselves, the GPS and Vietnamese road marking (or lack of it), we return, tail ‘twixt legs, to the hotel we’d so confidently rolled out of ight hours before.
12) Review the route with the benefit of Googlemaps – still little help – we deduce a new road must have been built since Googlemaps was last updated
13) Review visa expiry dates, saddle sores and team morale
14) Decide to cheat the next day
15) Cry ourselves to sleep