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A broken drawbar – Elephant waterfall

{gallery}ebike-expedition-1/5_vietnam/618_TAG_Lebensdauer_mindestens_10.000_km_09_03_2017{/gallery LINK TO THE ITINERARY

The road is like a construction site. Rows of potholes. Stones, dust, grit, and gravel test our biking skills in the worst possible manner. In addition to it, the road is mostly going uphill. The temperatures being around 44-48 degrees, being out in the sun is like being in a furnace. After months of rains, we are still unable to cope with this sudden heat. Once in a while, a stretch of fresh bitumen comes under our wheels and gifts us and the bikes a breather. ‘Kraaack!’, a loud sound goes tearing the blanket of air, as Tanja overtakes a stationary truck. I instantly apply brakes. “Nothing happened, but I think the drawbar of the trailer has just broken”, she says, as she pushes her bike towards the edge of the road. We are at the end of an elongated place. The traffic is rushing past, throwing around clouds of dust. I take a look at the drawbar. “It would’ve surprised me, if this last stretch of 20 kilometers wouldn’t have demanded any its price.” “Wonderful! That means, looking for an aluminium welder in Da Lat is in order, too”, Tanja says wryly. “Yeah!” “And? Do you have any idea how we are supposed to continue on our way now?” “No idea! This thing is done for. We won’t be able to move even a meter from where we are standing at the moment”, I say and try frantically to come up with a solution. “Let’s push the bikes and the trailer upto the roadside restaurant there! Something will come to mind while having a soup”, I suggest. No sooner said than done! We roll our bikes upto the rstaurant, order a soup, and sit down in the pleasant shadow of the cement shed. “We should order a taxi and let the trailer be taken to the hotel in Da Lat”, Tanja suggests. “And where would we get a taxi here?”, I tiredly ask. “Hm, perhaps we can stop one of the people driving to the city?” “The trailer wouldn’t fit in a small car. We would need one with a huge trunk. A minibus would be the best”, I say, pointing to one that rushes past us in the same moment. “It’s halting!”, Tanja shouts, jumps to her feet, and sprints towards the vehicle. I keep looking at her sceptically. After 5 minutes, she comes back and says, “It’s not going to Da Lat.” “Perhaps you can call at the guest house where we have pre-booked a room yesterday! The girl at the reception spoke English quite well. You can tell her to request the owner of this stand to order a taxi for us”, I suggest. “Good idea!”, Tanja agrees with me and dials the number right away. Our plan is, Tanja will take the trailer to Da Lat, which lies approximately 40 kilometers away, while I look after the bikes. Once she’s given over the trailer at the guest house, she’ll come back, and we can cycle together along with Ajaci to the city.

“I have an idea”, I interrupt Tanja’s call. “I’ll get back to you in a minute”, Tanja tells Jenny, the receptionist at the other end of the line, and I tell Tanja about my epiphany. “We still have the spare drawbar of the dog’s trailer, which we had replaced in Mongolia. It wouldn’t fit in the socket of your trailer, but with the help of two holes and screws, I can mount it temporarily. If it works, we’ll reach Da Lat without a problem.” “And where will you get the holes drilled?” “I’ll go look for a workshop. In Vietnam, workshops are everywhere”, I say confidently. “Well , all the best then!”, Tanja says, as I get a move on in the heat. Just a hundred meters down the road, I actually find a kind of a metalworking shop. I turn around the very instant, get the trailer, and roll it down to the workshop. “Here, you see? I want two holes there”, I try to explain it to the mechanic. At first, he doesn’t comprehend and keeps shaking his head constantly, saying ‘Không đi, không đi’ (It won’t do, it won’t do). “Yes, yes, it will, it will work”, I try to convice the man. His face lightens up with a smile. He jumps to his feet, snatches a drilling machine, and drills two holes. He then hops onto his moped and, after a few minutes, reappears with two new, compatible screws. When I ask him how much the repairs cost, he wants 20,000 Dongs (1 US dollar). I am happy and pay him double the demanded sum. At first, he doesn’t want to take it, but when I explain to him how important his work has been to me, he tucks the money away, laughs, and gives me a hug.

With a chest swollen with pride, I go back to Tanja and show her the provisionally repaired trailer. “Fantastic! Now we can even visit the Elephant Waterfalls on our way to Da Lat.” “Sure, why not!” In half an hour after leaving the restaurant behind, we reach the Elephant Waterfalls. We spend a lot of time climbing around through the terrain and enjoy the spectacle of nature. Then we continue on our way to Da Lat. The mountain pass here is fortunately built fantastically well so that the ascent upto 1.5 kilometers doesn’t prove to be much of a burden. Rather, it’s the exact opposite of that: we feel fit and buoyant. Porbably because of the unhoped-for repairs. In the hilly periphery of the city, two men are standing on the edge of the road with their racing cycles and smoking a cigarette. As they see us go past them, they hop onto their bikes and catch up. ‘Let me show you!’, the thought goes through my mind, as I hammer down hard on the pedals. In the meantime, the road starts winding uphill again. I pedal my heavy bike upward at 19 kilometers/hour. In the rearview mirror, I see the two cyclists, who are painstakingly trying to overtake me but don’t stand a chance. ‘Ha, ha, ha’, I rejoice like a little boy. The road dips down into a valley. The racing cyclists zoom down, coming closer and closer to us. At the speed of 50 kmph, I apply brakes, as I don’t want to risk anything, but the road starts ascending again. I outpace the sportsmen in their colourful cycling costumes all anew. Not to lose the distance between myself and Tanja, I halt upon reaching the top and pretend to study the map. Panting loudly and being completely exhausted, the road racers come to stop next to me, look at me with wide eyes, and give me a ‘thumbs up’. They shake their heads again and again and simply cannot believe that they were so brutally defeated by a Raodtrain. “I love you”, says one of the Vietnamese in broken English. “I love you, too”, I reply and keep pretending as though I were completely relaxed, as though the ascent had cost to me no effort. The men get off their racers and start running about my bike, still shaking their heads. Then they shrug their shoulders, shake hands with me, and shoot away. Since I didn’t betray the fact of being supported by an awesome electric motor, and since they are apparently not aware of this technology yet, they will sreuly recount this incident in the rest of their lives.

As soon as Tanja comes round the turn, we resume the journey. Whenever I see the stunned faces of the two cyclists before my inner eye, I have to laugh loudly. Then the horrible moped-traffic of the city swallows us. In the flow-mode, we slide through a crowd of motorcycles, which are shooting through like wasps, and find our lodge in the middle of the busy, noisy city-center. The owner of the mini-hotel is extraordinarily friendly and helps us to carry all the luggage to the small lobby. Together, we move the wooden furniture so as to create space for our bikes and trailers. Fortunately, there’s a lift that helps us to take all the cycling stuff to our room on fifth floor. “Puhh, what a day!”, I say, panting, and lying down on the clean bed. “Yeah, a good day. I was lucky that I wasn’t going too fast when the drawbar broke. And then you brought us here with your great idea.” “Don’t forget that I outpaced two professional racers with my e-bike”, I retort, laughing…

The live reporting has been facilitated by the firms Gesat Ltd. (www.gesat.com) and Roda Computer Ltd. (http://roda-computer.com/). The satellite phone ‘Explorer 300’ of Gesat and the rugged notebook ‘Pegasus RP9’ of Roda are the pillars supporting the transmission.

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Date:
25.02.2017

Day: 606

Country:
Vietnam

Province:
Da Lat

Location:
Da Lat

Latitude N:
11°56’29.9’’

Longitude E:
108°25’58.1’’

Total kilometer:
80 km

Complete height meter since tour start:
22.487 km

The crow kilometer:
32 km

Average speed:
17.7 km/h

Maximum speed:
46.3 km/h

Driving time:
4:23 Std.

Ground quality:
Asphalt / Schotter

Maximum height:
1.500 m

Complete height meter since tour start:
67.529 m

Height meter of the day:
1.273 m

Sunrise:
06:03 Uhr

Sunset:
17:54 Uhr

Temperature Tag max:
28°C

Departure time:
08.10 Uhr

Arrival time:
18:00 Uhr