Sunday, December 05, 2004

Fat boy...........

Holy Mother of God.

I had a blast today out road riding but I need to lose some road hugging weight. I've lost 10 or 12 pounds which is good but more has gotta come off. I'm not spazzing yet, I am right on target for April but I'm impatient. What's new, right? At least my back wasn't screaming after today's ride. I'm slow as hell but that'll improve.

Watched a pretty nice save on a tight bend by my buddy Greg, not sure how he did it,he pulled it off though. It coulda been a nasty one. He has the skills to pay the bills.

With the forecast calling for rain Monday and Tuesday-looks like some more inside riding is on tap.

Looks like this guy used a bucket of epoxy to install his fork.
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I like this article. I kind of get to see both sides as our 11 year old and 17 year old have never not had internet access. I also help my pop figure out how to send e-mails and look for stuff online. He is such a hoot- one year ago he swore he never would be online, now he needs pryed off the computer.

Ain't technology wonderful ?

These guys are good. Looks incredibly dangereous but having ridden with traffic in the past, I'd be more worried about tagging a pedestrian then a car. Those guys are hauling ass.

Saw this chart on the
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On a serious note, Mozart made some wonderful music. Okay,maybe not that serious but he died 213 years ago today at the age of 35.

Saw this link to some new saddles on PezCycling News. I guess some folks will buy anything as long as it is expensive enough. My opionion? I think they are butt-ugly. They'll probably sell every one of them though................

This is a really cool article about bicycle touring in Vietnam. I just copied and pasted the whole thing into my blog as the site requires registration before you can look at anything......

Sunday, December 05, 2004
Susan Kaye
Special to The Plain Dealer

Can Tho, Vietnam -- Cycling along a patch work of rice fields in the pancake-flat Mekong Delta, the crush of traffic thinned to a trickle and cars mostly disappeared. We rode past rusted bicycles laden with dragon fruit or coconuts stuffed into large wire baskets and past motor scooters pulling rough wooden carts piled with cabbages.

Then I heard a youngster's shout. He was herding a dozen water buffalo at the far end of a field. When he saw me -- cycling shorts, outlandish jersey and helmet -- he knew he had spotted a foreigner. With another shout of "Aallo!" he ran toward me through stubbled grass. I slowed, but even so, he had crossed only half the pasture when I passed.

He gestured exuberantly, "Aallo, aallo!" As I waved back, he jumped with pleasure, then skipped back to his cattle, seemingly the happiest kid in the province.

My most enduring memory of my cycling trip through Vietnam is not the parrot-green rice fields, nor the rush of free-for-all traffic and insistent honking. Nor is it the intoxicating flavors of fresh spring rolls and rice noodle soup spiced with mint and cilantro.

Instead, I remember the smiling eyes and happy faces that called out to me: "Aallo!" "What is your name?" "Where you go?" Hundreds of children brightened my days as I pedaled south from fishing villages along the South China Sea to deep within the Mekong.

Before my husband, John, and I set off last winter on this 12-day cycling tour, I spoke with my friend Sally Kurtzman of Denver. A former college instructor in Saigon, she reminded us, "Vietnam is a country. Not a war."

She was right. In this jam-packed nation of 80 million, everyone we met was gracious in hospitality, pleased that Westerners are returning to visit.

Even in Hanoi, where the party headquarters remain and where communism weighs most heavily, we felt no rancor.

Still, the war ended only 29 years ago, and every adult has a story.

LL Hai Son, the cycling guide working with our tour company, risked his life 25 years ago when he and another teen manned a 39-foot boat, carrying nearly three dozen South Vietnamese to freedom in Malaysia.

Midway through our journey, a village elder in Lat, a Central Highlands ethnic village, invited us to his wooden "long house" where we shared homemade rice wine from a bulbous earthenware jar. Greeting us in French, he explained he had fought with the Special Forces during what in Vietnam is called "the American War." Afterward, he paid the price of siding with freedom, spending 15 years in a brutal "re-education" camp.

Yet another encounter came on our first day of cycling, outside Nha Trang on the south-central coast. On a rural stretch of road where we were alone except for peasant women shouldering bamboo staffs with baskets of vegetables hanging from each end, we photographed a Buddhist temple, its pink tiers rising from a lotus pond.

The head monk, Thich Tam-Tri, invited us for tea in his study where we sat on an inlaid bench, a whirling fan nearby. He related his teen years at the University of Saigon; when war broke out in 1965, he fled to the temple.

"The bombing in this region was heavy, and our buildings collapsed," he said. "Now we have a new complex where I live with four disciples."

Squeezing through

crowded streets

The heartwarming greetings that accompanied us softened the intensity of the road challenges. Yes, there were hills, but no Tuscany-style grinds. Instead we were thrust into a never-ending stream of scooters bumping along with families of three, pedestrians, bicycles overloaded with stuff, oxcarts and three-wheeled cyclos that functioned as everything from minivans to flatbed trucks.

We were the only ones in Vietnam who even considered using hand signals for turns. I never saw a driver slow down when making a right turn into the swarming traffic. Their practice is to merge, honk and hope. We were swept into the tide; any hesitation would cause even more furious honking behind us.

Vietnam traffic has other variations: I was spinning through a frenzied stretch of market traffic in Phan Thiet only to be confronted with three abreast motor scooters, plunging toward me, against the chaos heading their way. Drivers routinely use the "wrong" side of the road to reach their destinations, because turning across several lanes of traffic is impossible.

By choosing to cycle, we experienced Vietnam up close. Actually, in your face is a more accurate description. If we weren't navigating the teeming roads, we were winding through the cacophony of small-town markets that spilled into the road.

Wet with sweat and flushed with the unfamiliar, we passed seething markets where some 500 large white goose eggs were laid out for sale; others where rows of homemade joss sticks, incense for the upcoming Tet (the lunar New Year) celebrations, stretched for two blocks. As if we were cycling by an endless picnic, whether in town or along rural roads, we'd see families squatting to cook over outdoor braziers and workers hunched on small stools, slurping pho, the ubiquitous soup.

With guides

by our sides

The tour included 16 Canadians, Australians and Americans - ages 40 to 72 - along with three guides. Three support vehicles, driven by Vietnamese who looked out for us along the 250-mile cycling route, shuttled us into and out of Saigon and were always an option whether we were weary and hot or reluctant to cope with traffic. In cities, our guides posted themselves at strategic corners, pointing the way and even helping to slow traffic so we could safely turn. We averaged less than 30 miles a day, which left time for sightseeing and relaxing in posh resorts (we stayed in six of Vietnam's dozen or so luxury properties).

Several firms, large and small, offer bicycling in Vietnam. We chose Backroads, a Berkeley, Calif., adventure travel company, because it is the only one to cover so much of Vietnam's 1,000-mile length. The tour started in Hanoi, included a town in the Central Highlands, two south-central beach regions, Ho Chi Minh City (still called "Saigon" or HCMC) and Can Tho, a city of 500,000 on the southernmost tributary of the Mekong River.

Our last day we walked the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, passing the first stores we'd seen (outside of hotels) that catered to tourists. There's no McDonald's, but we spotted a KFC and Baskin-Robbins. Private enterprise is thriving, from the peasants selling roasted peanuts to the innumerable ragged shops crowding the towns. If the people have their way, the pace will accelerate. A guide in Hanoi told us, in the privacy of a car, "Our political models are Thailand and Malaysia because we see their freedom and how much better things could be for us."

While American visitors, businesses and hamburgers are still a rarity, the Vietnamese couldn't be more generous with their smiles and "Aallos."

Kaye, a free-lance writer in Aspen, Colo., has cycled in five continents in the past 20 years. She can be reached via e-mail at

Good stuff, maybe someday.................

Until later.

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