On Being Open To New Possibilities

This post was last updated on August 6th, 2014

You might know by now, but currently we’re cycling cross-country through Vietnam. By ourselves, lugging way too much stuff (sorry Dan), over mountains and dirt roads and towns that don’t even exist in any guidebook. It’s exhilarating, scary, and exhausting, but most of all, it’s unexpected.

So how did two ‘non-cyclers’ decide it would be a good idea to tackle 2000km of rugged biking in Vietnam?

 

A Cruising Couple Cycle Vietnam

 

To answer this one, we’re gonna have to back-track to last Christmas.

Last year, Dan and I ran a marathon—the full 26.4 miles, no walking, in a little over four and a half hours. For us, it was a feat. At the start of 2012, I would have been lucky to finish a 5k. But we were determined to run that marathon, and in the end, that was what it took to motivate us through a year of training—plus the unsightly feet that ensued. What’s more, somewhere during those 18-mile training days, we discovered that we actually enjoyed running. It became addicting, seeing how many more miles we could push ourselves, what time we could finish under, and the “runner’s high” we would occasionally be gifted with. If you’re a long-distance runner, then you surely know what I mean. Nearly an hour after completing the Taipei International Marathon, we were sitting at a coffee shop and eating baguettes, kinda trying not to vomit still, but planning our next training regimen.

We had our eyes set on the Da Nang Marathon in Vietnam. The timing and destination were perfect. The only problem was life.

 

Laundry in Vietnam

I hate laundry day

 

Like everyone in the world, we got busy, caught up in work and blogging and writing an eBook. Training for a marathon easily got swept to the corners of our minds. Sure, we would still tackle a couple miles here and there, promising ourselves we still had time to ‘get serious’ about training. We talked about the marathon in Vietnam, primarily joking about how out of shape we were. But most importantly, we hesitated to sign-up. That hesitation ultimately closed the doors on the Da Nang Marathon.

We were a little bit hard on ourselves at first. Mostly we were disappointed that we had set high expectations but then utterly failed to meet them.

 

What does this have to do with cycling through Vietnam?

 

Bicycle in Vietnam

 

Although we knew we wouldn’t be able to run the marathon, we still wanted to actively experience Vietnam. A three-day cycling trip down the east coast of Taiwan was all it took to deem ourselves ready to tackle a six-week, cross-country cycling tour.

We only have a few days of cycling under our belt. Our first impressions are that it’s really difficult but extremely rewarding. As of now, we are grateful for the new experience, the many memories we’ve made that never would have been possible without our bikes in tow. Of course, it only took a few kilometers to realize cycling 2000 kilometers in the August heat and Vietnamese road conditions is actually much more difficult than running another marathon would have been. We might not make it all the way to Ho Chi Min City, but that’s okay. This is our experience, and ultimately it’s up to us to decide how we want to do it.

 

A Cruising Couple Cycling Uphill

A Cruising Couple Vietnam Cycling

 

Our take away from it all so far is to be open to new experiences. To set high goals and do our best to see them through, but should we not succeed, remember it doesn’t mean we have failed. To be open to new opportunities, things we never would have imagined possible—perhaps these new possibilities will be even better than the initial goals we had in mind.

 

We hope you’ll follow along with all our facebook, twitter, instagram and blog updates as we continue to tackle this cycling thing. It should be quite the ride ;-)

 

Have you taken a cycling trip before? Can you offer any suggestions or encouragement?

 

Discover even more from Vietnam:

Tour de Vietnam: Cycling Northern                   Halong Bay, Vietnam: Is It 
Vietnam                                                                   Worth It?

An Unexpectedly Wonderful Town-                   Through the Eyes of a Veteran:
Vu Ban                                                                      A Tour of the DMZ

4 Reasons to Love Dong Hoi                                Navigating Hue’s Ancient Past

Tour de Vietnam: Cycling Central Vietnam      Hoi An For Non-Shoppers

Our Most Terrifying Moment Cycling                A Pinterest Inspired Hoi An 
Vietnam and the Kindness that Saved                Shopping Spree   
Us From It

Tour de Vietnam: Cycling Southern                   The Best Reason to Visit Vietnam
Vietnam

An Introduction to Vietnamese                           The Ultimate Guide to Cycling
Cuisine                                                                    Vietnam

 

 

24 Comments

  1. That is amazing guys! You are both crazy and very brave to take a trip like this! No matter where you will end up to, if you will complete your trip, you will be winners for trying and don’t be afraid of challenging yourselves. Having said that, I’m confident you’ll make it till the end! ;)
    Safe travels!
    Franca recently posted…Weekend Photo Theme – Making Local FoodMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thank you Franca! It means the world to know we have people cheering us on to the finish line :) Thanks for the positive feedback!

      Reply
  2. Hey! Come on now! Don’t even talk about quiting! Keep striving forward….I believe in you two!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jon! Don’t worry, we’re not giving up yet ;-) Good to know we have people rooting for us!!

      Reply
  3. Wow, that’s awesome guys! What an amazing way to see Vietnam. Looking forward to following along!

    Reply
    • Thank you! It is definitely an amazing way to travel slowly and connect with small, local places you otherwise would have no reason to visit. Glad to know you’ll be following along :)

      Reply
  4. This sounds amazing! We did some cycling in Vietnam and Cambodia and it was the absolute highlight. Getting to see hidden places, riding through the beautiful countryside, meeting wonderful people who didn’t speak a word of English. The little bit we did makes me highly envious of your 6 week cycling adventure but I can’t wait to hear more about your trip! Good luck!
    Anna @ eatseedoblog recently posted…Three days on two wheels: getting to know Angkor WatMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Anna! Your description is spot-on so far. We truly are blessed to have the opportunity to do this (although I don’t think my thighs really agree with it yet!) Happy to hear you’ll be along for the ride! :)

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  5. I love your positive attitude! Even if you don’t make it all the way to Ho Chi Min City I am sure your trip will be rewarding and satisfying. Also I have a suggestion for you (if it’s possible during the summer in Vietnam) – wherever you have a possibility, try to immerse or shower your legs with cold water for several minutes. Your muscles will thank you every km :-) Wish you both strength to your upcoming km ;-)

    Reply
    • Thanks Maya! We definitely need to try the leg immersion thing- our thighs are definitely feeling it! Thanks for the encouragement and advice!

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  6. This is an experience you guys are going to treasure for the rest of your lives! Even if you don’t get all the way to HCMC, this is still a major accomplishment. And your photos are gorgeous! Best of luck!!
    Heather recently posted…Exploring Budapest: The Historic Charm of Castle HillMy Profile

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    • Thanks Heather! You have no idea how far your encouragement goes :) And glad you are enjoying the pics so far- lots more to come ;-P

      Reply
  7. What you guys are doing is really incredible, I hope you know that. Tony & I rode a motorcycle through almost the entire length of Vietnam, which I thought was pretty bad-ass, but I can’t even imagine tackling it by bicycle. At the time we considered riding a motorbike through the country, I kept saying that it was too much, too cool, and that we should save it for another trip. I like your way better: dream big and do your best to make those dreams come true. Even if you don’t completely pull off whatever you’re attempting, it will undoubtedly be far more memorable and you’ll be more interesting people for having tried.

    Having made it through VN on a motorbike, I think it will be a push to get all the way to HCMC in 6 weeks, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. So long as you have fun, that’s the most important thing (even if you sneak in a sleeper train or two along the way!).
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Putting the “Gorge” in “Gorgeous” at Taroko GorgeMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks Steph!! You know, a motorbike sounds pretty nice right about now! Really though, knowing we have so many people encouraging us and rooting for us makes all the difference! I wish we had talked to you first- a lot of the research we did said people cycled the length of Vietnam in just a few weeks. They forgot to mention that they took trains or planes from Hanoi to Hue! Now that we are here, and inadvertently wanting to stay in every place we stop for an extra day, six weeks is definitely going to be a stretch. I guess we’ll see what happens!

      Reply
  8. Wow that is so cool! What an adventure! I hope you guys have the best time ever!
    We thought about biking through Vietnam when we were there a couple of months ago, but decided against it. I can’t remember why, wish we did do it!
    Angela recently posted…Travelogue // 03: InspirationMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks Angela! It is certainly an adventure! We’ll see what we think at the end of it :) Maybe you’ll make it back to cycle Vietnam one day!

      Reply
  9. Congratulations on your new adventure! Sounds like a great trip. I’ve never done a multi-day (or week) cycling trip. I did ride the North Shore Century from Evanston, Illinois up to Kenosha, Wisconsin and back, which was 116 miles in one day. Of course I looked at my bike in scorn for a long time after that. I didn’t hate the 7000 or so calories I was allowed to eat that day. That definitely didn’t suck in a city with deep dish pizza, the best hot dogs and beef and cheese sandwiches.
    Josh @ I Ran So Far Away recently posted…A Tribute to My Mentor and Hero: Dr. Donald UnguraitMy Profile

    Reply
    • hahaha you just reminded us why this whole cycling thing is worth it- we can eat whatever we want! Gosh I cannot imagine 116 miles in one day. There’s no way we would make it! Kudos!!

      Reply
    • Thanks Nicole! It’s always encouraging to know we have people following along with our journey :)

      Reply
  10. As a preface, I work at Farragut with your mother – its not all that bad, I promise.

    However, my wife and I are haven’t been overseas in a while and your blog may have just provided some sharp pangs of the traveling bug. I’m also really curious to see a packing list of what you began with… and what you end up keeping in those packs. I think I just heard that there has been some lightning of the load as time goes one!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad we’ve been able to get your travel juices flowing! Our packing list was pretty specific to our trip as we are focusing on cycling during our time here. We plan to do a comprehensive list at the end of our journey but I’ll give you a sneak peek since you asked ;-) 2 cycling shorts, a couple quick dry athletic shirts, some comfortable clothes to wander around town in, the usual toiletries, and a first aid kit are some of the main components. We did end up leaving behind some clothes (mostly extra t-shirts) to lighten the load after the first week of tough hills. :-p

      Reply
  11. Well said, guys. Cycling the length of Vietnam is something that has seemed appealing to me before, too, but realising that it’s OK to set out and not reach your intended destination takes a certain kind of calm acceptance of reality that I don’t have yet, so good on you!
    Sam recently posted…Guide to Quirky Chivay: the Colca Canyon’s Big BrotherMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks! It has been a tough ride so far but in the end we know the experience will be one we won’t soon forget :-)

      Reply

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