Temperature: 43.5 degrees
Headwinds: very mild to non-existent
You wouldn’t think an exhausting long-distance ride would be a social thing during the cycling but you’d be wrong. There’s lots of talking and getting to know each other during the ride.
And yesterday’s duet with Darryl wasn’t a one-off either. For those of us who enjoy a sing there’s often a willing partner nearby.
While the leading pack stretched their legs today quite a number of us took our time and laughed about life at the back of the pack.
It’s amazing how social humans are even in the middle of hard exercise.
What’s even more amazing is how when people are exposed to heat and fatigue in a trapped environment like this is how much they open up. Conversation topics ranged from sexual fantasies, sexual adventures, mid-life crises, and a range of the deepest, darkest secrets you can think of.
And this from people I hadn’t met before last week. Great conversation and it’s a sign of a wonderful intimacy and trust. A bond forged in the heat of battle against the elements and ourselves.
In unrelated news I’m proud to announce the forthcoming publication of a book entitled “What’s said on the ride goes in this book’.
I was a bit spooked about the unsavoury incident of yesterday. What initially was taken as slightly humorous horror was, upon reflection, ridiculously serious. Most of the girls were isolated on the ride at the time and the fact he got on a motorbike and chased Deanna had the potential to be very ugly.
It only takes one idiot and two seconds.
And perhaps I’m overthinking or worrying about it but it really played on my mind. I spent my day near the back of the pack helping those who were struggling and doing my best to ensure no one got isolated so they were at least in sight.
It turned out to be immensely rewarding as I helped some great and determined people. Sometimes people just need a conversation to distract themselves from the pain and doubt and happily I like talking to people. It was anything but a chore so to be given a superhero award this evening was a bit embarrassing.
Especially when I tried to point out it might have been less altruistic and more poor fitness.
Today featured the ride’s cutest water stop when we stopped on a Thai Air Force base and before you say anything, no I didn’t think the soldiers were cute.
But what they shared the base with was undoubtedly heartmelting. Dusky Langur monkeys are incredibly gorgeous to watch and feed. During last year’s ride one of the riders was actually bitten by one of the monkeys at this very stop so we had all been warned to exercise caution so as to avoid as trip to the hospital for a rabies shot.
Note the pic to the right and how I’m exercising caution feeding not just a monkey but a mother monkey with the most adorable little baby. The human capacity to overcome logical warnings and caution in the face of big-eyed cuteness is both staggering and scary.
I should point that Paul – the rider bitten last year – returned again for this year’s ride. Though, come to think of it, I didn’t see him feeding the little critters this year for some reason.
The wonderful spirit really comes to the fore at the end of each leg. The faster, fitter riders obviously finish earlier but instead of making use of the extra rest time, some of them turn around and ride back to us slower riders. They offer encouragement and tell us how far there is to go (it is nearly always four kilometres for some reason) and ride in with the back markers adding quite a significant number of kilometres to their ride.
Everyone gets clapped in with a sincerity that warms the heart.
It’s a camaradie that extends into the evening where ritualistic bonding takes the form of highlighting events of the day both positive and funny.
Minor mistakes – such as dropping your water bottle or sunglasses – are punished with fines. The extra cash goes to the orphanage as well so people truly get into the spirit of things nominating each other and even themselves.
In fact the part where people nominate each other becomes an hilarious spectator sport as fines can double if you unsuccessfully dispute them. And the appeal rate is worse than a Texan appeals court.
I would be breaking tribal confidence by disclosing too many charges but the most outrageous offence bought the house down in equal parts horror and humour. Daphne (nor her real name) dobbed herself in by announcing that when she was ridiculously sweaty and hot, she had grabbed ice from the drinking ice bucket, rubbed it all over her face and then put it back in the cooler.
Some people turned green and have sworn off ice for the rest of the ride.
Today’s singalong was with Belinda and we belted out Ticket To Ride and some Robbie Williams.
The GetAboutAsia Rider Of The Day