An Australian expat says he wants to conquer all roads that link the north to the south of Vietnam with his bicycle.
Mark Waller has been passionate about riding a bicycle since his young age. To him, cycling is the only sport he loves.
The Australian expat often rides during his two years of living and working in Ho Chi Minh City. Sometimes he even cycles to go to work.
Waller said he was first impressed by the beautiful landscapes and roads he saw on a trip to Nha Trang, a resort city in the south-central region, which led him to follow his passion for cycling.
He encouraged his friends who also like cycling to establish a group called Saigon Sunday Riders.
They then prepared their own plans and schedules to ride around the Ho Chi Minh City areas, such as Nha Be District or the Can Gio mangrove forest, to build up their fitness and get to know Vietnamese roads.
The group initially had seven members who only gathered on the weekend to ride or team up with Waller to conquer longer roads.
Now, this number has increased to nearly 20 people. As the leader, Waller is in charge of drawing up riding schedules, training all teammates, and advising them on dietary habits.
They gather on the weekend and start cycling from Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7, where they live, to some rural districts like Ben Luc in neighboring Long An Province and Long Thanh in Dong Nai Province.
Long-distance cycling requires Waller to prepare a detailed plan at the beginning of the week and then inform the other members so they can arrange their own schedules.
Saigon Sunday Riders’ longest journey was from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, which ended in Mui Ne, during five days.
During the trip, they went sightseeing, visited a textile factory, enjoyed civet cat coffee, talked to locals, and discovered new landscapes.
Waller is also responsible for looking for accommodations and food, saying he always does some research and books hotel rooms one week ahead to assure his team members could have a good place to rest.
The man and some teammates also take part in several mountain biking contests often held in Da Lat, one of which was Victory Challenge Race.
It is a three-day event taking place in March each year, gathering both amateur and professional racers.
Contestants are required to ride over a distance of 75 kilometers, including dangerous mountainous passes.
The man said he wants to spend time cycling to coastal areas like Phan Rang, Nha Trang, and Da Nang, not only to conquer the roads but also to learn more about the local culture and culinary uniqueness during this upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
Mark Waller (second right) and his team members travel to Da Lat by bicycle. Photo: By courtesy of Mark Waller
Waller (second left) and his teammates take part in a cycling competition. Photo: By courtesy of Mark Waller