Epic cycle ride undertaken by unfit, overweight, not middled aged lady

I visited Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in 2002. One of the things that really struck me about the countries was the indefatigable people, the welcome extended to visitors and the simple joy taken in small pleasures. But, having visited the Museum of the American War in Ho Chi Minh City, seen the 'Danger UXB' signs in Laos and read the good news headline in a paper in Cambodia: ' Deaths from UXBs down to 3 this month. Only 40 maimed.' I was acutely aware of the toll still being taken on the population.

Over the years I have pondered the munitions still there and this year I have finally decided to get off my bottom and do something. So I have, somewhat impetuously and with little regard for my physical fitness, cycling ability or dodgy left knee decided to join the MAG cycle ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Ankor Wat. I will be doing this the first week or so in Feb 2011 and it does involve a couple of days of over 100km in 30 degree heat. Having signed up I have been told that neither a rickshaw nor an electric bikes are options and that doing the distance on my own pedals is expected.

Donation link is further down on the right - I have paid for my own flights and contributed enough to cover living expenses so all money raised from sponsorship will go to MAG.

This is my blog of my progress to get on the road and when I am there - assuming I will be capable of rational thought after a day of unaccustomed exercise.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Day Four... I love the smell of napalm in the morning

A local cyclist
Monks watching the  mad MAG cyclists
Day 4 dawned and I felt better as I had a really good nights sleep. Still not hungry but not feeling sick despite the mishap the night before. Podged down to brekkie and managed to eat about a third of an omelette so was quite proud of myself. Filled the camelbak with SIS and headed onto the road.....
After the first kilometre started to get heartburn... this steadily increased until my chest was really painful; at which point, complete hypochondriac that I am, I decided that the chest pain and numb left arm/hand meant I was having a heart attack. After thinking about this a bit realised just how daft I was being and cycled on until we got to around the 14 km mark, at which point I had to stop. As I had dropped back through the field of riders Sophie, the Actionchallenge lass who herded up the stragglers caught up with me and stopped. The poor lass had to stand there while I burped, and I am not talking ladylike little secretions but about 20 full blooded, thunderclaps that any teenage boy would boast of. 
Managed to get back with the programme and the ever patient Dr Geoff came to cycle with me and chivvy me along. Cycling next to Dr G can prove hazardous since he hasn't mastered the art of removing his feet from his SD clips and there is a 10% chance that he will, albeit slowly and quite gracefully, topple through ninety degrees any time he stops. Having not really eaten for a day and a half and feeling pretty rough I was not at my best and the poor bloke wore quite a lot of misery as he tried to get me to the first stop. Ran off to a corner when we got there as was still having the eruption problem, which wasn't relieving the heartburn but I was living in hope, and I didn't want to be nicknamed burping betty!

Biked until lunch (about 55kms) which
No clammering, just patiently waiting
was planned to be a long one since we would be meeting some children and donating various things to them and their school. Rith had explained that most of the schools in Cambodia are free but that the children must have a uniform, notepad and pencil and many could not afford this small quantity of stuff therefore might not attend. For the 'donation ceremony' all of the children were lined up in front of us, they performed a song routine then we passed amongst them to hand out the goodies. I had mixed feelings about handing things out directly to the children rather than giving everything to the teachers to distribute but I was also glad that we did as it gave an opportunity to see how the children really behave. Many of the children
were obviously from dire poverty, but all of them stood in their allotted position and waited for one of the large Europeans to hand something to them personally. Not one of them tried to take something that was being handed to another child and there was no pushing or shoving or anything else. There were 120 children lined up in about 16 rows and they all stood and waited patiently. Some of the MAG group had brought sweets and I watched as one child, obviously not familiar with this type of thing, bit through the waxed paper wrapper on the chewy lolly he had been given then went back for more. I think that this was one of the highlights of my trip although I feel that I do need to do more on this one. MAG does work on the poverty since by clearing agricultural land so it can be farmed they increase the amount that can be earned and they target their work at areas that really need the help but I think I would also like to do something directly with one or more of the schools that we passed.    

I got a lolly too!

I got a lolly!


Anyhow, after a long rest at the temple/school complex we set off. I managed about 100 yards before I vomited up the 6 spoons of rice I had eaten at lunch time. Dr G hove into view and gave me some strange pill that you hold under your lip to stop you feeling sick and after a drink and 10 mins or so I cycled off again. After about another 100 yards had to pull over again to be sick again. Dr G gave me a bit of a stern talking to and I ended up on the bus. Sat on the bus for the rest of the 30kms, scratching my heat rash and feeling like I had let everyone down. 

But, after a shower and rest in the hotel got dressed for dinner and even tried to do something with the bright red moustach where my upper lip used to be (thick heat rash/eczema). Then a Halleluia moment;  I felt a tiny bit hungry, let me hear a Halleluia at the back there and for dinner I ate 1/2 a bowl of Tom Yum soup, half a bowl of rice, some prawns and a spring roll then got back to the room and had a cereal bar for pudding... yea. The whole not eating thing had been freaking me out as it is so not normal for me, but I finally felt vaguely human


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