Recommended by: Rebecca Rusch, Mountain Biker
The Vietnamese used the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a nest of jungle-choked paths and roads through the mountains, to ferry supplies during the Vietnam War, and they largely did it with bicycles. Now, travelers hike and bike these capillaries to see an intimate view of the country. Few, however, do the entire length of it. Except, naturally, for Rusch, who rode 1,200 miles of it.
"You’d be going through villages and jungle and all sorts of cultural travel experiences," she says. "That’s one of the things I think is so great about a bike is to travel and explore and get off the beaten path." This path certainly isn’t well beaten, as it traces the ridgelines of the Annamite Mountains, passes through tiny villages, and skirts verdant terraced agricultural lands.
Rebecca Rusch has won a flock of adventure races, the whitewater rafting national championships, and the masters cross-country skiing world championships. But that was all before she started biking. In the last seven years, she has become a cyclocross state champion and the 24-hour solo mountain bike national champion, and she has won the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, a preeminent endurance test, four times in a row.