No, we are not talking about how to avoid bumping into walls while you ride, it’s more of a metaphoric wall, also called the bonk and feared by many cyclists. Almost everyone who cycles or does any endurance sport has experienced this awful feeling of emptiness, when your bike suddenly becomes so heavy, when the slightest slope becomes the col du Tourmalet and your legs seem to shout that they are not willing to work anymore. Wikipedia describes it as “a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy”. In short, it means you didn’t eat and drink properly and your body has no more fuel to keep going. Specially in tropical countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia the bonk may be haunting you and you always have to be careful.
If you experience this feeling, stop as soon as you can and give your body the fuel it needs. Fortunately, in most parts of Vietnam you will find small stores or eateries where you can have some rest and some food for your tired muscles. You will specially target the foods high in carbohydrates, which, once again, is not difficult in Vietnam, unless you are cycling in some remote mountainous area. Here are a few Vietnamese foods that you can buy along the road and will make your legs happy (as much happy as they can be):
One of the best remains of French colonialism in Indochina is this delicious baguette filled with a mix of ingredients from France (the baguette itself, pâté, mayo sauce…) and Vietnam (fish sauce, pickled vegetables, chili, local sausages…) . They have different recipes in different parts of Vietnam, some are loaded with a fried egg, others add a delicious sicy sauce to the cold cuts. Try as many as you can and decide which one is better for you!
Another unavoidable companion of your rides in Vietnam. Wether it is in the form of soup (pho, mien, bun…) or dried, noodles are a great option when you cycle. Easy to digest, they will give your body the energy boost you need and, more important, they are delicious. Eating the typical pho is a good option since the soup will help you rehydrate. Don’t be reluctant to eat soupy foods under the hot weather, they will really help you feel better. If the local people have been doing it for so long, there must be a reason to it.
Here again, Vietnam can offer a great variety of different cakes, with rice as the king ingredient. Bánh tét, made of glutinous rice and mung bean, bánh khoai mì, made of cassava, bánh da lợn, made of pandan leaves and bánh rán, a delicious glutinous rice fried ball from the South of Vietnam are some of the tastier options you can look at.
Although energy drinks are becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam and can now be found pretty much everywhere, the traditional sugar cane juice is a really good alternative. It will be easily assimilated by your organism and converted into energy.
We have already seen before how the local fruits can be a great way to refuel. You might never have heard of some of them, but one of the most efficient if you are in trouble is one you always knew: banana. Quickly digested, it will give you almost instant power to keep going.
Anyway, in our tours we will provide you with the necessary drinks and we will stop when needed for you to get the energy you need. Eat and drink well and you will not hit the wall!