Laos postcard

[From January 2009.]

Left Vientiane at my usual not too early start and pedaled out of the exhaust into merciless sunshine and sweat.  Two hours in I see in the distance riders on touring bikes, catch up, chat with three Irish lads embarking on an inspired adventure.  Two weeks before they had set off from Bangkok to ride home, none of them ever having done any significant cycling before.  At this point they were working up to riding more than 50 or so kilometers a day, and they were wide-eyed at my 175k plan.   Their earnest optimistic enthusiasm made them terrific riding companions for an hour before sharing lunch:

Brian: “So, as a seasoned cyclo-tourist, what is the one absolutely indispensable item that you take on every journey?”
Paul: “Yeah, the one essential?”
Michael: “You only get one vote.”
Me: “Well, you see that triangular Jandd frame bag on my top tube? I carry a .45 calibre pistol in there, and I wouldn’t leave home without it.  It’s gotten me out of a lot of tight spots.”
[Silence.]
Michael: “Um…”
[I blink a few times. More silence, consternation.]
Brian: “Seriously? Bloody hell, you have had to use it?”
Me: “The world is really dangerous…”
[Further silence. Pained looks. Fear.]
Brian: “So…”
Me, bursting out laughing: “Nah, I’m fuckin’ with you! Are you out of your mind? C’mon, a gun? Seriously…”
[Gasps of relief all ’round.]
Michael: “Well, you’re American and all, and, well…”

Great guys.