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The Urology Foundation – Cycle Vietnam to Cambodia




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Since 2008 we have cycled in Sicily, Malawi, Madagascar, Patagonia, South Africa and Rajasthan raising more than three quarter of a million pounds for The Urology Foundation. The seventh and latest instalment of the TUF cycling series is an amazing 450km cycle challenge through two of South East Asia’s most fascinating countries. The challenge starts in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City and finishes at the world heritage site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. En route we will shed a lot of sweat, but also experience breathtaking scenery, ancient temples and the warmth of the local people.

The cycling will be tough in hot and humid conditions, but the camaraderie along the way will be very special as doctors, patients and supporters team up to raise much needed funds for The Urology Foundation (TUF).

Funds raised by Cycle Vietnam to Cambodia will enable The Urology Foundation to help improve the management and treatment of urological diseases through the development and support of medical education and sponsorship of research – training healthcare professionals specialising in urology and supporting basic and clinical research by funding scholarships in the UK and abroad.

 

 Day One (Fri 10 November 2017) – Depart UK 

Overnight flights from London to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Day Two (Sat 11 Nov) – Arrive Ho Chi Minh City – Transfer Ben Treh 

On arrival in Ho Chi Minh City we are met at the airport by our support team where buses will be waiting for us to transfer, approximately two hours, to our hotel in the town of Ben Treh. In the afternoon we will have the bike fitting. Dinner will be at the hotel and will be followed by a briefing about the challenge ahead.

Day Three (Sun 12 Nov) – Ben Tre – Tra Vinh                                        50kms (approx. 31 miles)

Today we will have a warm-up day with the cycling being relatively easy and the distance not too challenging. After breakfast we cycle out of the hotel along lovely country roads with very little traffic. We then follow a traffic free route through villages that give us an insight into Vietnamese rural life. After crossing a number of river tributaries by bridge we reach one that requires a short ferry crossing. About an hour later we reach the main Mekong River where we re-group for a longer ferry crossing.

Day Four (Mon 13 Nov) – Tra Vinh – Can Tho                                    104kms (approx. 64 miles)

The cycling today is fairly flat and takes us through rural communities and a number of small towns. Interest today is provided by the many Pagodas that we pass, some of which we will use for rest stops.

 

Day Five (Tues 14 Nov) – Can Tho – Chau Doc                                   70kms (approx. 43 miles)

We leave our hotel early this morning with a road transfer of approximately 2.5 hours. We start cycling from the town of Am Cham. We stop at a local restaurant in the small town of Triton for lunch before continuing through scenic agricultural land. This afternoon we encounter our first major climb. Further, smaller climbs take us into the town of Chau Doc where we find our overnight hotel. On arrival we will de-fit the bikes in preparation for our crossing into Cambodia.

Day Six (Wed 15 Nov) – Chau Doc – Phnom Penh

Today we enjoy a day off the bikes and a fascinating journey by boat from Vietnam to Cambodia. After breakfast we have a short transfer to the harbour where we embark on the boats that will take us along the historic Mekong River to the border.

We will see many boats along the way and experience life on the river which supports many thousands of Vietnamese. After crossing the border we continue our journey up-river to the city of Phnom Penh where we have lunch in a restaurant overlooking the busy harbour.

We will visit the Royal Palace which is described as an impressive Khmer style Palace. We overnight at a hotel in Phnom Penh where we will be briefed by our Cambodian support team.

Day Seven (Thurs 16 Nov) – Phnom Penh – Kampong Cham            60kms (approx. 37miles)

Today we have our first day of cycling in Cambodia. Following an early breakfast we will have a short transfer to take us out of the city to the surrounding countryside where quiet roads await us. After about 35kms we reach the end of the tarmac road and continue the rest of today on dirt roads. We overnight in the town of Kampong Cham.

 

Day Eight (Fri 17 Nov) – Kampong Cham – Kompong Thom         107kms (approx. 66 miles)

This is probably our most demanding day of cycling. After breakfast we leave town on an undulating road that passes many Temples and Pagodas and leads us into a forest of rubber trees. We will have lunch today in a large Pagoda complex before continuing our ride into the town of Kampong Thom.

Day Nine (Sat 18 Nov) – Kompong Thom – Siem Reap                        60kms (approx. 37 miles)

This morning after an early breakfast we have a transfer of approximately 1 hour to our start point at Kampong Kdei. Our route today takes us through the Cambodian countryside until we reach the outskirts of Siem Reap. Our finish line will be at the entrance to the ancient city of Angkor where we will enjoy a celebratory drink and have a photo opportunity. This evening we will have our celebration dinner at a nearby hotel; this will be followed by a cultural show.

Day Ten (Sun 19 Nov) – Siem Reap – Visit Angkor Wat / Free Day

Today is a free day to explore the areas ancient ruins and temples, or relax by the pool, or do a spot of shopping. Why not re-visit the Angkor Wat temple, take a walking tour of the overgrown ruins of Ta Prohm which is entwined with tree roots and gigantic creepers, visit the tranquil Bayon with its multitude of serene stone faces, or see the impressive 350m long Terrace of the stone Elephants.

Day Eleven (Mon 20 Nov) – Depart Siem Reap

We depart for the airport at Siem Reap to begin our journey home.

Day Twelve (Tues 21 Nov) – Arrive UK

Altogether we will have cycled 450 Km in extremely hot and humid conditions. Do support us with a donation to a great cause by sponsoring Louise de Winter our CEO’s fundraising page here:
https://cyclevietcam2017.everydayhero.com/uk/louise-de-winter  All donations made will go towards funding the vital research, training and education in urology diseases so badly needed.

 

Roger Kirby 

The Prostate Centre, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Roger Kirby
    Getting excited now! 35 riders this year and already more than £80,000 pounds raised! We are meeting at Heathrow early tomorrow morning. We plan to update this blog as we go. Watch this space.

  2. Ann Frampton
    Good luck to all the tuffers you will have the most amazing adventure - having done all the previous challenges with tuf I can sincerely say it is a very special family - sad not to be with you all but will be thinking of you as you pedal across these two amazing countries raising funds for the urology foundation ab outstanding charity
  3. Jen Bennett
    Safe journey. Good luck. I will be following your progress. Very proud of my dad, Andrew Etherington.
    • Abi Gray
      Your dad is an absolute legend Jen!!
  4. Bradley Starr
    Arrived Heathrow. The fantastic team are here. Excited to be finally starting the 2017 challenge for The Urology Foundation.
  5. Krishna
    Life is a constant arrival and departure. When we are young it is from one school to another,then one university to another and when we start working it can be one country to another. It’s a constant journey and we have some precious moments on those journeys which we cherish for rest of our lives. I had fantastic opportunity to enrich those journeys by joining TUF charity bike challenges. I have participated in all the challenges and I can remember all of those beautiful places and people and cultures and comarardary of the participants. Most important thing is it is all for raising funds for TUF charity which helps research and innovations for combating urological cancers.
    It is so gratifying and humbling experience.
    I have enjoyed every second of it and I strongly recommend this to those who aspire to help charity events.
    I am looking forward to our forthcoming VietCam challenge
    Krishna
  6. Pilkie
    So here we are in Terminal two and it’s beer and eggs benedict for breakfast! All the kissing and backslapping done as the TUF family reunite. How hot will it be? How to stay dry? Who brought mud guards? Does Boots sell a whole body condom? Who’s been training and who’s worried about their fitness? Such japes, such laughs! It’s all go for another fantastic challenging experience and I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Join us on the next one!!
  7. Louise de Winter
    So, waiting for the flight. Too late now to do any last minute training. Do I feel ready? No! Will it be tough? Probably. But will it be fun? Absolutely!
  8. Charles Reynolds
    Hey Gang of fellow cyclists I an sad not to be with you but will be checking into the progress reports daily. Have a wonderful time and cycle well. I am with you in spirit and look forward to the next one. Best Wishes Charlie
  9. Ravi Kumar
    In transit at Singapore not long to get there !
  10. Steve Norris
    I'm out of breath just reading through the challenge. You're all wonderful (if slightly mad) people doing something really tough but enjoying each other's company and knowing you're raising tons of money for a great cause. I wish you all a safe trip and a happy return. You're marvellous
  11. Kamal Khoobarry
    Hello TUFFERS,
    Feeling very sorry for missing out on this one. I am sure you will all have a great time and can't wait to get on the saddle. The bars are well stocked for the evening. See if you can empty them all. Have a great time - I am pretty sure you all will.
    Best wishes,
    Kamal
  12. Steve Freeman
    As Winston Churchill said "if your going through hell keep going" , all the very best team seventeen from a member of team fifteen, Steve Papa Bear Freeman
  13. Mary Francis
    Hello Guys,
    How sorry I am to miss out on this one, I will be with you though every pedal of your way, For the newcomers you will experience wonderful friendships and memories that will imprint on your mind forever..
    Although I 'm back on the bike , I would never have made the fitness for this trip, but don't forget me , I will return even if to keep those company at the back.
    With much love, and a stream of best wishes xx
  14. Roger Kirby
    First report from Vietnam! Three days cycling- no casualties so far. Riding through a storm today and a serious climb which had us sweating profusely and panting for breath at the top. 107 Km cycled yesterday- 88 Km today in extremely hot and humid conditions! Tomorrow we take a boat down the Mekong Delta to the Cambodian border. When the goung gets tough- TUF gets going?!
  15. Mark Becker
    ... Day 3 Riding through the storm. Amazing day through the monsoon rains. The Team manned up and slogged on for the cause. Great team spirit. Onward to Cambodia up the Mekong...



  16. Pilkie
    Much like Ethiopia, Vietnam suffers from bad press. Cycling through the little concrete paths between coconut palms, banana fronds and mango trees with irrigation ditches on either side, twisting and turning, dodging endless bicycles and mopeds loaded with anything and everything from babies and toddlers to the wide load of a dead pig, you realise this is a fertile land of industrious people. It’s hot. Very hot. And it’s humid. It takes 4 litres of water to stay remotely hydrated and then the heavens open and you are cycling through a rain storm of biblical proportions. And it’s still warm!
    There’s challenges aplenty with sharp turns, swarming traffic in which you weave as if performing a dance you’ve never even seen before. There’s dirt tracks, potholed roads, narrow concrete paths, slippery bridges and more two wheeled vehicles than you can count. And I’ve done lots of cycling but never been hit on the head by a bunch of bananas as I avoid a pothole!
    Today we took a boat into Cambodia and visit Tigger the Royal palace but being reminded of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge rather damped spirits for a while. Team briefing in 20 Minutes!
  17. Roger Kirby
    Phew, made it to Cambodia. 3 more days of TUF cycling to go. Team spirit good - although we are missing Roger Plail’s ever ready supply of sweeties! Off again tomorrow- the ride goes on. £80,000 raised for the cause so far. Hoping for some more donations!
  18. Abhay
    Tuffers had to dig deep today.

    Our first day of cycling in Cambodia was tiring due to the 32 degree C heat. It was a chore just drinking enough to keep us going despite several well planned water stops. Anyway, all came through, with no defaults. Just shows that when the going gets TUF, Tuffers get going.

    Great day, with hundreds of children shouting ‘hello’ as we cycled past. Interesting photo opportunities with very accommodating monks and locals. Oh, and we saw some deep fried tarantulas and crickets in a local market; sadly nobody in the group was brave enough to give them a go, even the redoubtable Pilkie.
  19. Roger Kirby
    Day Seven: Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham. We made it! All 35 cyclists in great fettle and good spirits. Cambodia very different from Vietnam- much less densely populated and consequently less traffic on the roads! Still working hard to get our heroic cyclists to ride in single file but it’s a losing battle! No accidents so far apart from Sara’s spectacular plummet over the handlebars!
    Tomorrow is the toughest day of all: more than 100 Km to ride in high humidity and temperatures around 33 degrees. Iced water over the head will be the order of the day!
    Follow this blog for more updates!




  20. Gordon Muir
    A month ago the furthest I had cycled was about 20 miles. Today we shrugged off twice that in stifling heat. Apologies to all my patients if I have ever been unsympathetic when the nerves don't work after too long in the saddle - I am feeling your pain.
    Any saddle sores are banished by the thoughts of the good work donations to TUF will do and also by views like this, from our hotel in Chau Doc.

  21. Sarah-Gay
    Hey fellow follower and cyclists, we've settled down in the Sky bar in the hotel in Kempong Chan . Cold beers, no nuts so green mangoe dipped into a salty, spicey condiment! What's not to like after peddling in 32 degree heat and 80 % humidity. A truly great day of cycling, ...... guys, you have to get out here , the people are gentle and fun loving, they need you to come and spend your cash. Come and experience a whole new far eastern world . Loving life with TUF xxx

    • georgina Stewart
      Can’t believe I’m missing out on this, sounds amazing and I’m so jealous! Hats off though to all you oldies- find us all a Marigold Hotel whilst you’re at it xx
  22. Abhay
    Whoops! Eileen has gone down with a tummy bug. On the bus today for her. The rest of us have more than 100km in the heat and humidity!
    Further updates later!
  23. Ian Allan
    Keep going Tuffers! Soon it will be the worst cycling day, the last one! The day when you realise that the fun has to stop sometime and normality has to return! Enjoy every minute, sorry I can't be with you all. I just hope there was somebody there who could sell you mudguards at a highly inflated price! I hope the hotels were pre-warned to have the suitable hypertonic drinks available for all the athletes on arrival, it's very important to dehydrate properly on these events!
    Well done to you all
    Love Ian
  24. Jay
    I had to return from the group in Phnom Penh but did so with great reluctance. What a fun and dedicated group of people and their commitment to the charity is deep and profound. Why else would they want to endure what they are doing? They do go on about the heat and humidity ( and it is intense) but not much worse than an average day in Nashville in August so suck it up and quit whining. Wash down some fried tarantulas with your water.
  25. Roger Kirby
    Phew! Made it to Kampong Thom! One disaster en route: Abi our tour organiser fell and was knocked unconscious and has now gone for a brain scan - which I am sure will be fine. But it was scary! It just illustrates how tricky conditions are here. One more section to do tomorrow- then our Challenge will be complete.
  26. Roger Kirby
    Good news! abi’s CT scan is fine! Last night I formally handed over leadership of the TUF cycling Challenges to Peter Rimington. The leadership was transferred with an oath from Peter to continue the rides and to raise as much money as possible for the Charity. Seven rides completed and £750,000 + raised it is now time for me to peddle off into the setting sun and leave things to Peter and Louise’s excellent team! 60 Km still to ride though to Ankor Wat. Can’t wait to see one of the wonders of the world!
  27. Abhay
    Eileen’s fine now.
    Day 5 of cycling was the TUFest. 70 miles with the temperature reaching 34C in the afternoon.
    First major accident of the tour with Abi, our tour manager coming off her bike and suffered a mild concussion. Thankfully she’s recovered completely.
    Looking forward to Day 6 and finishing at Angkor Wat.
  28. Salia

  29. Mark Becker
    Brilliant fínal day arriving in Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. Brutal conditions on the road but with extreme fortitude and TUFness all made it. Wow..what a ride!
    Mark




  30. Roger Kirby
    We made it! 450 Km completed with no major accidents for the 7th TUF cycle challenge! Phew! Ankar Wat even more magical than we imagined. 4 people fell off their bikes en route, but incurred minor bruises only. A really tough challenge though, which many of the participants had voted for themselves. Tanzania would have been a less humid and more scenic option - but we got on our bikes and did it here in SE Asia and cumulatively raised £750,000 for TUF, as well as making a donation to a local children’s hospital, which seemed much necessary and greatly appreciated. Over to Peter Rimington and the TUF team to keep the show on the road. Watch out for TUF Cycle Challenge 8!




    • Jen Bennett
      Awesome news. Well done to you and the team. Safe journey home. Jen xx
  31. Ravi Kumar
    What an incredible experience met some amazing people and made great friends all for a cause
    Got some thought provoking outlook lessons to life
    “Thank you Paul Fletcher for your words : we need to think of giving a better world to the next generation, simply brilliant”.
    Thank you Abhay for getting me involved.
  32. Pilkie
    So once again we have finished a challenging ride. It’s hard to explain the combination of thank God it’s over and can we do one more day! Once again the cameraderie, welcome of newbies, creation of new friends, conquering of personal limitations which are all in your head leads to one of the exhilarating of moments. And then we party and shop and laugh and celebrate!
    I wish I had done all seven, I wish I could see these people every week but I know that there are some I won’t see for a year so it’s glad sad goodbyes. You should really come next time! No really! Myanmar? Brazil? Cuba? Who knows! It WILL be fantastic!!
  33. Krishna
    Congratulations to all TUF family for successfully completing the one of the hottest and humid east 470 km of rural Vietnam and Cambodia. It was a real challenge to pedal in those humid and hot weather. We all managed to reach the finish line without any major injuries.
    It was once in a life time experience for me and all the Buddhist and Hindu philosophy was the icing on the cake. I am sure everybody is inspired to keep fit and raise more money for the The TUF charity
  34. Bradley Starr
    We're sitting in the final hotel in Siam Reap Cambodia waiting to depart after completing a cycling challenge like no other with this wonderful team of Tuffers. 500km (including an extra 20km for the madder people among us) in the high heat and humidity of Vietnam and Cambodia. We had to learn the techniques of consuming enormous amounts of water and cooling the body with icy water at each stop to prevent heat stroke.

    The smiles and excitement of the children waving and calling to us, the unending welcome shown to us, crazy westerners in lycra, as we rode through rural tropical landscapes with rice fields and busy polluted main roads, always lifted the spirits. This terrific group of people show what can be done for a great cause. It's all about the team, it's not a race, everyone supports, we share the pain and the pleasures. We learn about the countries and people, our preconceptions are demolished, we do some good along the way and come back better people.

    Looking forward to the next one!
  35. Louise de Winter
    So back at Changi airport waiting to board our flight home. It has been the most magical and memorable week. Our team gelled and bonded seamlessly and the so called 'newbies ' are newbies no more.
    Every challenge has been tough and testing in its own way but the heat and humidity has been the real killer in this one. But every one came through without whinging and we also all made it home in one piece bar a few bumps and scrapes.
    The welcome we were given by the people in both Vietnam and Cambodia was warm and friendly. Considering the history of both countries the people are remarkably open and generous. Truly a wonderful experience with a team of cyclists who have become real friends.
    We will be planning a future trip and if you haven't yet come on board please consider it, you will love it! In the meantime there is still time to sponsor us and raise funds for urology research and training.

    https://cyclevietcam2017.everydayhero.com/uk/louise-de-winter

  36. Roger Kirby
    Back home in England now!
    Phew, only four minor injuries and one case of food poisoning - now resolved We were lucky! The TUF team is intact! Here is the link to the Trends news story:
    https://trendsinmenshealth.com/news/seventh-tuf-cycle-challenge/





  37. Ann Frampton
    Congratulations and well done to the entire TUF team for completing this most difficult challenge in the humidity - you are all superstars! Sad not to have been with you on Rogers last journey but delighted to hear that Pilkie is taking over the Batton from the amazing Roger Kirby - not a hard act to follow!! When Roger and I first came up with the TUF cycling challenges the plan was always for the TUF family to grow and for it continue after Roger and I retired- so very excited to hear that TUF will go on!! After all that banter over the years Andrew Etherington (legend) still goes on!
    So pleased your all home safe and sound
    Ann
  38. Simon and Juliet
    Home now and a chance to reflect after all the hectic days.
    Challenging conditions seemed only to bring out the TUF fortitude even more. It really feels like being part of a family. Great organisation and superb camaraderie. After all the relatively recent awful history in Vietnam and Cambodia it was amazing how friendly and genuinely pleased to see us both populations were.
    Hard to believe that Roger won’t be doing it again. Can’t we persuade him otherwise.......
  39. Roger Kirby
    And an enormous thank you to Henk and Anne, who did a fantastic job in keeping everyone safe. Thanks also to Abi came along and cycled bravely as well as joining in admirably with the Tuffers. Thanks also to the excellent local guides in both Vietnam and Cambodia. We really appreciate everything you did for us on the ride.





















  40. Sara Mackintosh
    Hard to believe we have been back for a week now - finally surfacing for air! What an incredible challenge - being a first timer with TUF we could not have felt more welcome - such an amazing and inspirational group of people, everyone so supportive and such incredible countries to explore - humbling and eye opening. Biggest challenge was the heat - hard to believe now I am wrapped up for the UK winter! Loved nearly every second, so thrilled we were able to take part and thank you everyone for making it such a life changing and amazing trip.
  41. Roland Morley
    What another great trip! Great to see old faces again and the camaraderie is superb! I love these cycles for the getting off the beaten track and getting into the true heart of the country . This again happened here in Vietnam and Cambodia and the people were very friendly and smiling all the time. The cycle takes you to the heart of the problems that these countries have experienced and certainly stimulated an interest to learn more.

    Food was great and we all survived the heat and humidity . But getting up 5.30 in the morning?..... Ahhh.... I thought i was on holiday!

    Roger will be back and looking forward to the reunion!

  42. Graeme Conn
    It seems like a distant memory now but it was an incredible, life-changing week. As a “newby” I was so impressed by the friendliness and support from the whole team. I have made many new friends and achieved much more than I thought I would manage. Thank goodness I put in the hours training!
    I am now hooked on cycling and hooked on TUF challenges. Until the next time!
  43. Roger Kirby
    Read about all seven of our TUF cycling challenges: https://trendsinmenshealth.com/reports/seven-tuf-cycling-challenges/
  44. Abhay
    I thought that this was one of the most difficult and challenging TUF rides, simply because of the heat and humidity.
    However, as referenced to earlier in the blog, it was the camaraderie was what kept all of us going. I feel so privileged to have been part of this team; I made some amazing new friends and renewed some old kinships.
    Bring on the next one, Pilkie! And Roger, you’re coming …. you just don’t know it yet.
    Happy 2018, all!
  45. Roger Kirby
    Another year or so before the next TUF Cycle Challenge but in November we are undertaking a trek in Ethiopia to raise funds jointly for TUF and Wellbeing of Women (WoW). Read all about our 5 previous Hikes for Hope and sign up to join us on a hike across the Simien mountains of Ethiopia:
    https://trendsinmenshealth.com/five-previous-hikes-for-hope-and-now-a-sixth-in-ethiopia/



  46. Roger Kirby
    I am posting this comment to give you a gentle nudge to sign up for Hike for Hope Ethiopia and/or Cycle Costa Rica for TUF!
    They are both fantastic itineraries and come highly recommended!
    You can find out more about Hike for Hope and register using the following secure link: https://www.dream-challenges.com/challenges/hike-for-hope-ethiopia-trek-the-simien-mountains/
    And for TUF Cycle Costa Rica: https://www.dream-challenges.com/challenges/the-urology-foundation-cycle-costa-rica/ Do join us and raise badly needed funds for The Urology Foundation. Yiou wil be made most welcome.

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