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