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5 Lessons on Cycling from an Amateur Vietnamese-American

Dear Outdoor Asian Friends & Fam,

Are you tired of all those awkward pandemic walking dates at the park?

Well, my friends


Today, our guest writer & dear friend @Nina Dinh is here to save the day with her brilliant idea of ditching your date and riding a bike instead!

Actually, she didn't say anything about ditching dates for bikes.

But we did ;3


5 Lessons on Cycling from an Amateur Vietnamese-American



My mom in the back with her closest friend in the front. Black and white photo from the mid-1970s in Saigon, Vietnam. On their way to a city picnic!

Bikes have filled my life with joy more than I knew — my childhood was surrounded by my ability to switch from the 4 wheels to 2 wheels and follow my family across parks. And even more so, bikes were built into stories — stories from my parents, and how they pedaled away along the streets of Saigon to get places. How my dad first picked up my mom on their first date. And my most favorite of all: how my mom and her dearest close friend would share a bike -- yes, a single bike -- to go on weekend picnics. They would take turns pedaling as the other sat in the front. Neither my mom or I would advise to do this now, but it surely makes for a sweet recollection.

. Among all these, I realized too I love the freedom that bikes bring and how accessible they are. I got my first road bike in 2020 and unfortunately crashed (rookie mistake!) It took me time to heal from the scar and gain the confidence again to get back on the road. I've been loving it all and learned a few things.

1. There is no wrong or right way to ride a bike.

My favorite quote on bike riding goes, “ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride." by Eddy Merckx. There are commuters, criterion track racers, beach cruisers, mountain bike riders, and everything in-between. There is bound to be something for everyone and there is no need to compare yourself to others and rather it's rewarding to just do you. All you have to do to be considered a cyclist is riding a bike. Whether you want to cruise, do climbs, explore in some dirt, bike-pack, play with electric bikes, or much more, there will always be a community of supporters that will be there to help you embrace your journey. And with that, my second advice is to find your community!

2. Join a group and be in a community you love!

Fun with Team Peach on a Sunday group ride! Photo cred to @mattymattskipper. Group is @TeamPeachCycling

Riding alone has its benefits, but riding with a group helps you learn more about your bike, new routes, new eats, and the best of all, new friendships! Shout out to Team Peach in Los Angeles for having me along on my first group ride ever and radiating positive energy throughout. Team Peach is an FTWN-B (Femme, Trans, Women, Non-Binary) race team and cycling club that was created to break down barriers in the world of cycling! They do Sunday coffee rides every week to all levels of riders.

3. Maintain your bike!

Bike maintenance is what will keep your sweet bike running for years on end. Properly washing with checkups with a mechanic will assure you are always riding safely! A trained mechanic too can recommend upgrades to assure you're on the right set up for whatever ride you're looking to achieve. Be it new tires, an extended stem, or even a whole new groupset, a visit to the local mechanic can make all the difference.

For those of you who find yourselves lost on where and how to find a bike amidst the 2020 bike shortage, my only tip is…

4. Research, research, and research for the bike you want to have fun on… and don’t settle!

Fun with Team Peach on a Sunday group ride! Photo cred to @mattymattskipper. Group is @TeamPeachCycling

Everyone wants a bike nowadays, and why wouldn’t you? It's more fun and fast than walking yet less boring and eco-efficient than a car! But if you check any major bike distributor, it is likely that the bike you THINK you want is sold out. Especially at the price point that would be more ideal. But not to fret -- there are ways to narrow down your search and know exactly what you’re looking for so that you can begin shopping at more places with pinpointed ideas. First, ask yourself: what kind of riding do you want to do? Do you want to explore the trails, go on technical routes away from the road, or do you want to stick to the road and make it your new mode of transportation? Do you want it to help with your fitness, or is it more as a way to get outside? So then how often; once a week? Everyday? For rides that last an hour, or maybe a couple of hours? Or all-day as a bike-packing challenge? Dig deep into these things. Bikes can be an investment depending on your goals, but no one should over-invest for something they end up enjoying only ever so often, or underinvesting and finding themselves needing to upgrade immensely later! Once you know the kind of riding you want to do, then you can explore the different types of bikes that support these adventures: the road bikes, the hybrid, and the mountain bikes accordingly. And each of these categories can be broken down into a myriad of niche things that are specific to your wants and needs. You can contact your local bike shop to chat about this more too as their expertise is there to help you! Then they can get your size to truly narrow down the search even more. I am also open to all chats, and you can find me on Instagram @ nono_dont. For me, I had realized after my fall that my all-road bike couldn’t help with my confidence. So switching to a gravel road bike with bigger tires and more versatile path options -- road and trails -- gave me back the enjoyment of rides while building my technical skills! Finally, after all of the reflection, you can see about how and where bikes are at with back-ordering at local bike shops! Many are months delayed but if you take the time to wait, research the reasons you want to bike, it will be worthwhile. If you truly can’t wait, there are always other options like Bicycle Blue Book, which sell/trade used bikes or places like Coco’s Variety in Los Angeles who sell a variety of used ones that come in too!

5. Remember to have fun… and watch Yowamushi Pedal 弱虫ペダル

As a recall to my first advice, please do what makes you happiest on those two wheels. I can’t stress that enough. Watch Yowamushi Pedal if you’re into anime and want to learn more about cycling at the same time. I started off struggling with understanding the technicals of cycling like what a cadence is, or what it means to switch gears and avoid cross-chaining. If I had watched Yowamushi Pedal I swear all of my confusion would’ve stopped earlier! Thank you all who have read this far! If you’d like to join me on a ride sometime, or just want to chat, hit me up on IG @ nono_dont :)

Nina Dinh, at her first-ever group ride with Team Peach! photo credits to @mattymattskipper

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