The Next Stage of my 2-Wheel Evolution: Hanoi

I was a kid when I learned how to ride a bicycle. It was a normal kid thing to do. My family would go on bike rides together through the neighborhood, and my sister and I rode to school in the mornings. When I was in college I got a bike and loved riding around the beautiful Hawaii scenery.

When I moved to China last year, one of my first moves was to buy a bike, which was pretty scary because the traffic was more intense than I had ever experienced. But I learned pretty quickly and rode all around town. When winter came on, Ricky and I bought a used electric scooter. I had never ridden anything other than a bicycle and was pretty freaked out. Yes, I know. Scared of an electric scooter than never got over 35 km/h. But I was.

So Ricky took me to an area of our apartment complex and showed me how to do it. I was wobbly and slow, and I got off as soon as I could.

The next day, however, I decided that I needed to do it without the pressure of someone watching me go around a tight space with cars parked everywhere. I took it on the road, and it was absolutely no problem at all. I maxed out at 25 kmph and felt like I was riding the wind. (The 35 km/h only happens when you are going down a steep hill with the wind at your back. I did it once.)

After a couple weeks I felt like a pro, and after a few months I was brave enough to carry passengers. I know, my progress is slow, but it is there.

Ricky and I had talked about doing motorbike tours on our trip, but I didn't know if it would really happen. So when we arrived in Laos and decided here would be a good place to start, I got pretty nervous. I knew there was no way to take a dinky electric scooter, so it was the real thing we needed. Well, I was half right.

We ended up getting a couple of semi-automatic bikes. There were gears but no clutch. And when Ricky taught me to ride it, well, it was rough going. It was getting dark, and we were in a rural area in the hills. My practice road was muddy and hiding tree roots. I practiced for about half an hour, and felt like I got the hang of it, having succeeded in not falling.

A few days later we bought our brand new bikes, and I was immersed in a trial by fire as we drove through the traffic from the shop to our guesthouse. It was pretty stressful, and I accidentally downshifted when I meant to shift up, but I made it.

As most of you faithful readers know, our Laos trip went swimmingly.  You can check out here, here, and here for the good. For the not so good, check out this post. It was the scariest moment of my life.

And don't forget the moto-montage that swept the nation! (Or at least this blog!)

When we had to get rid of the bikes, it was a very sad day indeed, and once we started back up with public transportation in Cambodia and Laos we knew we needed to get back on the wheels ASAP.

So here we are in Hanoi, Vietnam, and I'm ready to start the latest stage in my 2-wheel evolution. See, we went bike shopping today and ended up putting deposits down for two used Honda Win100s. That's right. A real bike. With a clutch. When we were shopping, we took advantage of the near-empty street at the garage and Ricky taught me how to drive, for the third time. It was really hard at first, with neutral being impossible to find, and my short legs having a hard time holding the bike up and using the kick-start. I killed it a few times and was shot straight back to my teenager-hood, learning to drive and stalling the car at every red light.

Because I learned to drive on a manual shift car, the idea of the clutch wasn't foreign to me at least. I got the hang of it quick enough, but I'm still nervous for when I get into real traffic with all the stop-and-go that entails.

But here's the thing. I've learned before (several times) and I will learn again. I feel like I've made good progress in my 2-wheeled vehicle driving. We'll see what the next three months holds for me! It could be a disaster, but I've got a feeling it will just be a blast.

I'll have pictures later when we pick up the bikes!

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