We have been doing some research on the history of road cycling in Vietnam and come up with some interesting factoids:

Competitive road cycling was introduced into Vietnam in the colonial days, and the “modern” sport of bicycle racing is mentioned a number of times in Vu Trong Phung’s 1936 parody of colonial society, Dumb Luck. The sport was sufficiently popular that the Vichy authorities made a special effort to hold the Tour d’Indochine in Japanese-occupied Indochina in 1942 as a morale-raising exercise.

Road racing was re-established in a small way subsequent to the American War, beginning as early as 1979. In 1985 the first Trans-Vietnam Tour [Cuoc dua xe dap xuyen Viet] was held. At that time, local club races were held with voluntary and open participation. Chuong Nguyen, former President of the Danang Sport Cycling Club, recalls around 200 cyclists being active in Danang in the 1980s, using old Peugot bicycles. Former “pros” who competed for Vietnam or their provinces in the 80s and early 90s are still part of the contemporary scene.

A dashing young Chuong Nguyen is pictured above, in front of the Dalat Palace in 1988. At that time you needed a special permit to travel outside of your home town, but Chuong and his buddies were, it seems, free to ride the 700km from Danang to Dalat. Chuong is still highly competitive in the over 55s category. He just runs out of puff sometimes.

Ashley Carruthers