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Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh – Stuart and Alex’s epic cycle ride across Vietnam, part 2

Dad-of-two Stuart Cooper, 43, and his nephew Alex Davies, a plasterer and part-time firefighter from Euxton, are taking on an epic cycle ride across Vietnam this winter, tackling rugged terrain, bustling cities, scorching climates and jungles!

The duo have chosen to raise sponsorship for St Catherine’s through the gruelling challenge, and Stuart – a property developer from Hutton – is writing a series of blogs to record his training and experiences throughout the mammoth endurance feat.

Here, he and Alex each talk about how they’re feeling ahead of the challenge which starts this Thursday, 8th November, and how they’ve been preparing for the feat.

Stuart’s training

I like to keep myself fit by cycling and running occasionally, and I also like to lift weights a few times a week. Preparing for this trip I have increased my cardio and cycling fitness by cycling longer distances and I am also fortunate enough to cycle a lot in Tenerife so I am able to train on the slopes of Mt Tiede which is Spain’s highest mountain. This enables me to do a lot of cycling with climbs in excess of 2,000 metres.

I have also been out cycling on the actual bike I am taking to Vietnam, fully loaded with approximately the same weight my belongings will weigh during the tour, covering similar daily distances and climbing elevation. First time I went out it felt very strange with the excess weight and the bike swaying a little, but once you get used to the weight and slower pace it’s OK.

These training runs also gave me an idea of the speeds we are likely to achieve which in turn gives us an idea of daily distances we can cover. Despite all the training, nothing will compare to what we are about to experience as we cannot simulate the 30-degree heat and humidity, heavy rains, jet lag for the first few days which will affect sleep, language barriers, finding accommodation each day we arrive into a town, and the food. I have eaten Vietnamese food twice before and should be OK but all this will affect the tour – but it’s also why I’m looking forward to it so much!

Alex’s training

I have a good reasonable level of all-round fitness due to a physically demanding job and also the fact I like to keep fit and healthy. Aside from work and living a generally active life, I keep fit by working out in the gym two to three times a week (both weight training and cardio) and from running as well as cycling.

I actually (especially come this time of year) run more than I do cycle, but in preparation for this trip I have been trying to get on the saddle as much as possible! I have combined time on the saddle a few ways; on the bike I am taking to Vietnam, my road bike and also on the spin bikes at the gym.

Although I am defiantly quite a way behind Stuart in terms of actual ‘bike mileage’ over the last six months or so, hopefully my all-round level of fitness will see me through OK throughout our trip. I have covered more than our average daily distance, with a lot more climbing involved (on my road bike it must be said) previously numerous times before.

But there is no doubt with the added weight, change of bike, the number of  consecutive days in the saddle, the humidity, heavy rains and all that comes with being in a foreign country, that this trip will be an epic challenge for us – but one that we are both now really looking forward to!

  • To sponsor Stuart and Alex and wish them luck on their journey, please click here.
  • To read Stuart’s first blog which explains more about the route and their reasons for supporting St Catherine’s, click here.