That's my Baum parked on the railing. 

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I went up and down to Sa Pa by bus, which broke down a couple of times. The local Hmong people walked past us and just kept going and going, legs of steel. So maybe it is over the border in Laos?

It is in Viet Nam - and the mountains are just as wild and steep but the road in the pic clings to the side of forbidding country that you can't imagine building a road through, let alone farming which is what is going on either side of the road but you can't see.  

You probably came to Sa Pa via Lao Cai where the train station is.   We rode to the quiet route to Sa Pa via Lai Chau - i.e the other direction up an absolutely stunning hill with very little traffic.  

I know what you mean.  The hill tribe peoples must be amazingly fit.  The women walking with enormous bundles of sticks up hills put us all to shame.  

OK.  The answer is - halfway along the Happy Road.  Over 1,000 people died building this road because they were hanging onto ropes to build the bit where the pic was taken.  

We started in Meo Vac and ended up in Dong Van for brunch where I first navigated an Asian squat toilet in cleats.  Speedplays to be exact.   Don't try this at home. 

If anyone wants to tour North West Vietnam on road bikes I can highly recommend most of this*.  Some of the road works were challenging on 23s but other roads were just perfect hot mix with very little traffic.  

Unlike touring in, say Europe, the towns are little more than a place to sleep and eat and not a destination in themselves.  All the action happens along the roadside. 

*if your idea of a good holiday is ~700km and 10,000m + of climbing over 7 days. 

That link looks amazing!  Do you have a GPX track of your route?

I do.  It's all on Strava if that's any use?   I was riding for 7 days around Ha Giang and Sa Pa with a transfer in the middle.

"It's all on Strava if that's any use"

Link please, I'm not strava literate!

Here it is.  Not sure if you will be able to view it however... 

Thanks.  That 20k downhill on the profile looked like it would have been a hoot!

The profile suggested that doing the trip with panniers would be OK.  Is that the case?

I was just riding standards and 11/28 so I'm sure you could do it with easier gears at a slower pace.  We did 700 km over 7 days with 10,000m climbing.  

I can't quite remember that actual descent.  Some of them went down a long way and were great to ride but you would come round a corner and discover one of these.

or some of these

And some of the roads were just quite rocky and holey and patched and, ummm, challenging on my bike.  

Should just note that when Eleri says "standards" one needs to factor in that she is riding on 650 wheels so the ratios are easier than standard.

All the action happens along the roadside

That's just Vietnam, really.

Talk about vertical country! How do those plots of land avoid sliding away?

We went into China by train from Lao Cai, through those mountains, a bit further south. A lot of tunnels and cantilevered bits over huge drops.

There were cyclists heading south on the ridges from Sa Pa to Dien Bien Phu, also popular with motor cyclists on old Russian machines. To get around ( mostly extremely vertical too)Sa Pa you jumped on the back of a local villager's Honda and hung on.

I'm sure you have a few great stories Eleri.


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