HCMC Dining Guide

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Riding with a Legend

Yesterday I conducted my first-ever on-camera interview. AsiaLIFE, the magazine I work for, is starting to do more video work, and Gary Fisher is currently in town so we did a story on his visit (his first to Vietnam). Credited with inventing the modern mountain bike as we know it, Gary is a legend in the cycling world and helps develop bikes for Trek. This was also the first time I had an extended conversation with someone who has their own Wikipedia page. Luckily I wasn't in the camera frame, but with several people looking on I was still nervous. Gary is an experienced interviewee though, and he made my job easy by providing engaging answers infused with colorful anecdotes.

Gary was in town thanks to the efforts of the guys at Saigon Cycles, the city's premier bike shop, and today he went out for a ride with a group of regular cyclists. I joined in on the 62 km (40 mile) off-road ride with a rented mountain bike and a GoPro camera to add footage to the magazine's feature.

It was a pre-dawn wake up, and by 6am 24 riders had assembled outside Saigon Cycles out in District 7. We hit the road and within 30 minutes were into the countryside south of the city. After some road riding and a couple of ferry crossings we hit the highlight of the ride: (mostly) concrete single-track paths slicing through absurdly green rice paddies and rural hamlets. We've reached the end of the wet season, and after months of heavy rain the vegetation is exploding with verdant colors. Our cycling was accompanied by the usual cacophony of children shouting "HELLO!" from all over the place and adults exclaiming at our presence.
On the ferry. Most such vessels in Vietnam are quite ghetto.

in the country
so green!
This was only the second time I had ridden a mountain bike since leaving the U.S., so I wasn't entirely sure how well I'd handle the trail. With the exception of a couple of rickety wooden-plank bridges, things were fairly easy. Threading the needle down the paths among the paddies took some concentration, but I've gotten to be pretty confident in bike handling so it wasn't too big of a challenge.
The legend relaxing - Gary Fisher

Gary tweeting - "I'm in a rice paddy ya'll!"
 The weather was also gorgeous, if a bit hot, with the sun shining the whole time. My cycling tan only gets more pronounced week by week. We regrouped back at the shop by 11:30 after an incident-free ride, with the exception of one poor guy who had two explosive blowouts (I'm talking about tires, not bodily functions). Gary thoroughly enjoyed himself and commented on the variety of things people manage to fit onto their motorbikes - we saw the usual country collection of squealing pigs strapped to bikes, quacking ducks packed into bags hung from handlebars, and everything in between. I will certainly be going on more rides like this in the future...it's just too bad they start so damn early. I'll be sure to share the video of the interview and the ride once it is put together.

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