I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning and for a brief moment, thought I was back in my home on Nicollet Island in Minneapolis. It was the roosters crowing that threw me off. We have roosters on the island, too, but the city-dwelling roosters of Hanoi were bold and proud. 5:30am proud, to be exact.

I had a great conversation with my young Vietnamese driver who met me and my bike at the Hanoi airport last night. After introductions, he reached down to help me with my equipment bag carrying about 38 pounds of gear that will be going onto the bike, and yelped when he realized how much it weighed. He put on a brave face for 50 yards, lugging it across the street to the taxi stand, but I could tell “I got it” was quickly turning into “I ain’t got it!” I took over while he went to fetch his car.

For the entire journey into the city center of Hanoi, we conversed completely via Google translate (and I forewarn you that it isn’t perfect…I got corrected by him twice when google told him something that I definitely hadn’t written). When he asked me what was in the other big black bag, I told him about my bicycle and about the journey I was going to undertake. His eyes got wide, and he high five’d me. “You will be facing a lot of rain,” intoned Google translate, and I nodded in affirmation.

All around us, a sea of motorbikes and cars beeped, jockeyed for position, flicked their headlights at each other. All somehow found a way to move forward. I imagined myself on the bike, doing the same. It’s a dance my Russian co-rider and I encountered bicycling across Sri Lanka in 2017. It’s going to repeat itself here. Thank for for patterns, be they traffic, music, or just life.

I’m off to explore this part of Hanoi on foot today. Later on, I’ll be dropping by a local jazz club to see if there’s a chance to sit in with the band tonight. Likely, there will be.

Then, an interview with a local Vietnamese oncologist who works with cancer research in his country. this will be the first of my Tales From a Bicycle Seat: Vietnam series. Can”t wait to see what I can learn.

So, my goal over the next 30 days is to have you join me on this exciting bicycle adventure; through this blog, pictures, video, sound, and through the eyes of the everyday citizens of the country of Vietnam who I will be meeting. My goal, also, is to raise funds for cancer research, or you can choose to contribute to Agent Orange relief, as this country is affected deeply by it, as many veterans back home in the US.

I think Carolyn Held, who this ride is in memory of, would approve of you following your conscience!

Here’s how you can find out more, and I thank you!