After six days on the road we did 1.770 km and on four of these days I cycled 530km on my fixed gear.
Now it’s the time to see the differences of #travelfixed and travelling by motorbike.
Short throwback: After two days on the road and four stops at workshops, we decided to leave my motorbike in Nah Trang to get it repaired. We still had one motorbike and my fixed gear. Riding all the time with 30-35 km/h would be too boring for Luis and we wouldn’t reach Hué in time. Therefore we attached an old tube to his motorbike with which he could pull me to be faster.
This wasn’t just a stupid idea, it turned out to be a great idea. We expected to go with 40-45 km/h, but after a short time we tried to get faster and cruised with 55-60 km/h over the vietnamese freeway. Of course on a fixed gear you can’t just relax. I always pedaled and used this as a great cadence training. After a while you feel a high pressure on your body. Especially the shoulders and arms needed to work a lot to stabilize the bike. But it’s fun to cycle faster than many of the other motorbikes. After 240 km a flat tire of my bike stopped us and I just jumped on the back of Luis’s motorbike to finish the last 160km of the day.
The Vietnamese put everything on their motorbikes. 3-5 people, huge boxes and even baby pigs in a cage. However, when they saw us with backpacks and the fixed gear on a motorbike or me on the fixed gear behind a motorbike, they came next to us and waved their hands. Some of them stayed even a few minutes behind us to take a video. What did they think: „That’s kind of normal for us, but these two freaks from Europe…“
The second day on my bike turned out to be the craziest one on this trip. We did some more km on the motorbike, before I get on my fixed gear in Hoi An. After 30km we passed Da Nang, a very modern a big city with crazy traffic. I really like to race with the scooters and motorbikes, but it’s also mentally demanding. Beeing faster also means that you have to think about what they might do next. Especially in roundabouts it’s a big challenge. Just get in and follow your line. If somebody crosses your line… well, pass him.
After this city, the next challenge started. Climbing a 10km mountain. You might say, ’no problem if you get pulled by a motorbike.‘ Well, of course you are faster, but you also realise that you have to do a lot of the work by yourself. Losing the motorbike in a curve and sprinting uphill with 48:14 is not as funny as it sounds. Also overtaking buses and lorries are an aditional challenge.
However, we made it to the peak. Next challenge. Descending. You might think the fixed gear is the challenge. Of course it’s more demanding, but on that day I didn’t trust two other things. The road and the vietnamese drivers.
The surface of this road is really bad. Lot’s of potholes and bumps. Not the best surface for skidding. But now about vietnamese driving.
Short summary: They don’t give a fuck. Beeing on the wrong side of the road, overtaking although there is traffic in the other direction. It’s normal that the buses and lorries overtake each other. If you’re coming from the uopposite8 direction, you just ride on the last meter on the side of the road. After a while that becomes normal. In our worst situation not just two, but three cars were facing us from the front. Obviously we found enough space to get through.
Thinking about these drivers, made me slow down a bit more on the descending.
Now the last part of this day. We were already close to Hué, when the sun got down. Hopping on the motorbike for the last 30km? No way, that’s gonna be cold. I put some extra light on my bike and then we were on our way. Night rides are fun. Behind a motorbike as well. Of course you have to watch out a bit more, but it’s also fun to pass the other motorbikes. By the look of their faces, they don’t understand how a bicycle can be faster. Especially not at night. However, we arrived safe in Hué, our northest destination of this trip.
After some sightseeing in Hué we get on our bikes again and headed back south. Two days later we arrived again in Nha Trang. The city where I dropped my motorbike. Shortly after we left the next morning with the repaired motorbike, it broke down again. I was so pissed about this situation, that I just booked a nightbus with the motorbike back to Ho Chi Minh City. Luis finished the tour on his motorbike and ended up with more than 2.200km.
This trip was great! Seeing different types of landscape cycling so much and experiencing crazy vietnamesea traffic.
Comparing motorbike and fixed gear for travelling seams a bit unfair, because mine broke down. But actually this shows, why it’s currently nicer to #travelfixed instead of using a normal roadbike. There is not so many things, which can break down. Therefore it’s way easier to maintain the bike and get the spare parts. Yes, without a motorbike I wouldn’t do more than 200km so easily. But the high speed also has it’s disadvantages. After 2-3 days I felt my ankle because of the high cadence I did for hours.
I would just suggest this kind of travelling to people who are really fit and a bit crazy. Otherwise you won’t have fun. A motorbike is definitely a good opportunity to see a lot of this country.
I guess it would be cool to do trip again. Not just the south, but the whole country.