As I should have expected, the weekend was an absolute whirlwind. I landed on Friday afternoon, and fortunately customs went smoothly. Standing in line, I noticed a guy one line over holding two cycling panniers in his hand. I did my immediate outdoors-person size-up: Solomon tennis shoes, a Kuhl shirt, and an OR backpack - all legit. I got his attention and asked where he was biking,
“To Hanoi”, he said.
“That’s funny, me too”. And that’s how I met Lyle, the Canadian from Vancouver. We were in touch sporadically throughout the weekend, grabbing a cup of coffee to go over route planning, and since it was his first time in Vietnam I was happy to give him some general tips. Although I made it clear to him that I was not planning to adjust my itinerary around him, we agreed that at the least it would be nice to leave the mayhem of Hanoi together on Monday morning.
Lyle is a nice guy. Mid 50s, a little bit of a gut, but with legs big enough to support himself on the bike. He has stubble, crazy hair, and years of sun wrinkles on his face. His eyes light up when talking about how beautiful the country is. He speaks with a thick, thick Canadian accent, “eh” is a common utterance.
As of the second day, he’s managed to keep up with my somewhat aggressive pace. All the more impressive is that he’s hauling way too much gear on a way too big mountain bike with 29er semi-Knoble off-road tires. It’s not the efficient way to ride, but I’m sure it’s mighty comfortable.
We may part ways in a few days time, I think its inevitable. He will be missed, it’s been nice to have a companion that speaks English and understands the unique nature of bike travel. On the other hand, I feel ready to jump in to the full intent of this trip: being solo.