Enthusiasts start a club in Hanoi to promote bicycle culture
Guim Valls Teruel and his Vietnamese wife Nguyen Thuy Anh in Laos during their world tour on electric bicycles in 2011. Photo courtesy of Guim Valls Teruel
While Guim Valls Teruel was on his electric bicycle world tour in 2009, he was already designing in his mind an ideal bicycle shop, where he could share his knowledge and passion for cycling with other bicycle lovers.
In June 2011, he took his newly-wedded Vietnamese wife, Nguyen Thuy Anh, on another world tour by electric bicycle, but the trip was cut short after a few months when Anh became pregnant.
The couple decided to settle down in Hanoi and carry out Teruel's dream by establishing the Hanoi Bicycle Collective (THBC) as a hub for the cycling community last April.
"After the tour around the world on a bicycle I've deeply fallen in love," Gium says. "I love Hanoi, and my wife also does. The idea happened that first time I cycled in Vietnam, there was only one decent bike mechanic in town, Mr. Tuan, and no shops to get gears or accessories."
The 37-year-old Spaniard said he wants to encourage the use of vehicles with less of a negative impact on the planet, mainly focusing on electric bicycles using renewable energies. Guim also believes electric bicycles could bring more people into the global cycling community.
"Moreover, during my two and a half years cycling through 25 countries on 22,500 kilometers of road, I also experienced on my own the beauty of traveling by bicycle. And now I want to promote cycling culture in Hanoi, a beautiful city where not long ago everybody commuted by bicycle."
In establishing THBC, Gium and Thuy Anh received support from Gium's cousin Marc Palomo Teruel and his wife Anna, who are also bicycle lovers and had cycled more than 5,000 km through Europe.
The two couples together set up THBC with an aim to make the shop a center of social activity, fitness, and a "temple of two-wheeled living."
"To serve the bike community is our job, but to introduce people to a bike life is our mission," Gium writes on TBHC website. "We believe that strong communities are fundamental to creating a better future. That is why we strive to be a communal space for progressive living. Riding bikes is a fun, easy way for everyone to live better."
THBC sells and rents bicycles and cycling accessories, including electric bikes and old-style Vietnamese bicycles and mountain bikes. THCB also provides customized cycling educational programs for schools and other training programs for children and teenagers. The shop also doubles as the Gin&Bread Café, which provides fast food and drinks.
Gium said they are in the process of launching "Positive Mass," an event inspired on an international event called Critical Mass.
"It is just a bicycle ride to promote cycling for all its positive reasons," he explains. "Critical Mass is a cycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world. The ride was originally founded in 1992 in San Francisco. The purpose of Critical Mass is not usually formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and traveling as a group through city or town streets on bikes."
In preparing for Positive Mass, Gium has just returned from Eurobike 2012, an event held from August 29 to September 1 in Germany.
"We went there to get the distribution of high quality cycling products in Vietnam, and also to let the industry know that something is changing in Vietnam," said Gium.
"We really did succeed."
Bicycle lovers in Hanoi can join the community at No. 44, Lane 31 Xuan Dieu Street or visit them online at http://www.facebook.com/THBC.VN or http://www.thbc.vn.
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