March 19, 2013
Distance: 44.7 miles Climbing: 2890.4 ft Descending: 2385.2 ft
I was feeling slightly better when the morning came. Chandler let me stay in bed as long as possible before convincing me it would be better to be sick and rest in Oudomxay than in this weird sooty town with the squat toilet and no running water we were currently in. Eventually, I got up, dressed and waited downstairs as he carried all the panniers and loaded both bikes.
We biked out of town before stopping so Chan could make us breakfast and I could have some time being sick in the bushes. After eating a little for me and a lot for Chandler, we headed off slowly. Chan quickly got ahead of me, but stopped several time so I could catch up and take a break. I had zero energy for biking and just wanted to lie down on the pavement to snooze. We didn’t have far to go with a small 300m pass and a big downhill into town, but it could have been 1000 miles for all I cared.
At one point, I was lagging far behind and when I caught up to Chan, I noticed he was eating ice cream. I asked him if he got me one and he looked surprised and asked me why I didn’t I get one from the ice cream motorcycle guy who had just passed me. I couldn’t handle it anymore and burst out in tears that I didn’t have any money and felt really bad. Chandler immediately apologized and pulled out the second ice cream he had bought for me. I didn’t have much of a sense of humor at this point.
The “ice cream” (actually frozen taro flavored water in a soggy paper cone) perked me up a little and we were able to climb the pass pretty quickly. The trees shading the road and slight breeze also helped. Soon enough we were at the top and sailing down the other side.
About 10km outside of town, there were a number of short, steep hills. Chandler cruised right up them, but I had no energy left and walked me bike up most of them. We crested the final hill of the day and started descending through small villages. Eventually, I was peddling through the dingy outskirts of Oudomxay and still had not caught up to Chandler yet. Since there was only one road he could be on, I assumed he was waiting for me at the first hotel he came upon. When I passed two hotels next to each other and came to an intersection, I knew we had become separated.
I did what I was taught to do as a child, and sat down on the curb and waited. (Way to plant Jenny). I knew Chandler was probably looking for me and it would be best if I just stayed in the same spot instead of biking back to where I had last seen him. I did decide that if he didn’t find me by 5, I would find some internet and email him my location. Luckily, he rode up to me, completely out of breath, 20 minutes later. He had stopped at a store in one of the villages on the descent to buy me a sprite, and while his back was turned paying for the sprite must have continued past him without seeing him or his bike. When I didn’t show up, he biked all the way back up to the top of the last big hill where he last saw me and started keeping an eye on the ditch by the road in case I had crashed or gotten sick again. When the ditch turned to gravel parking areas of town, he booked it into town.
Somewhere around this point I realized that my rear tire had a bulge in it. On closer inspection we realized the sidewall had split after the outer sheathing tore next to the rim. Not good. Looks like Chan had a project for tomorrow…
As we biked together looking for a hotel with internet, we were happy to discover we had come up with similar plans about finding internet and emailing the other if we were separated for a while. We found a nice guesthouse near the center of town and once again, Chandler took care of everything while I lay in bed. I immediately went to sleep for the evening while Chandler went out in search of food and ibuprofen.
Sorry you got sick but at least you got purple taro ice cream! Keep track of each other. We miss you and hope all is well in China.
you may benefit from personal GPS sx and a tandem bike hook up on the next part of the trip. That way whoever is riding the best can manage the climbs and descents . I know you are having fun tho!! Ellen