Challenge accepted: Belgian entrepreneurs complete the third edition of the Vietnam Bike Classic

Challenge accepted: Belgian entrepreneurs complete the third edition of the Vietnam Bike Classic

in News
Nguyen Khanh Linh
Nguyen Khanh Linh
Admin Assistant
+84-24-6258 3640/41

During 10 days from 14 to 23 April 2018, 19 entrepreneurs from Belgium cycled across 9 cities and provinces of Vietnam: Bac Kan, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai, Viet Tri (Phu Tho), Ba Vi, Hoa Binh, Ha Nam, Tuan Chau (Ha Long), Cat Ba to raise funds for Rikolto.

In 2010, Vredeseilanden (now Rikolto) organized the first “Vredeseilanden Classic”, a cycling event organised to raise funds for Rikolto’s projects worldwide. After successful editions in Senegal, Benin, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Indonesia, the first Vietnam Bike Classic took place in April 2017 followed by a second edition in October 2017.

Before flying to Vietnam for the Classic, each participant committed to raise at least 3,000 EUR (approximately 80,000,000 VND) to support Rikolto’s projects across its international network, including in Vietnam. To do so, participants mobilise their networks to seek direct donations and organize fundraising activities. About 30% of the amount collected goes directly to fund projects in the Classic’s host country while the remaining amount is used to support Rikolto’s activities in other countries of the network. Through its programmes in 14 countries, Rikolto contributes to more sustainable and inclusive food systems with the aim to provide affordable quality food for all, today and tomorrow.

Thanks to the bikers’ support, Rikolto can support more farmer groups and intensify its work at the national and international level.

A journey to remember

With the logistical support of Rikolto’s staff in Vietnam and Belgium, everything was ready for the bikers to embark on a journey (we hope!) they will remember.

Their 10-day trip started with an 80-km ride from Ba Be Lake, in Bac Kan province, to the first stop in Chiem Hoa, Tuyen Quang. It wasn’t an easy start since the roads were slippery from a hail storm the previous night. But that was no worry for the bikers who kept their enthusiasm throughout this difficult first day.

Taking a break at a small hamlet in Phuc Ninh, in Tuyen Quang, riders were excited by the warm welcome of villagers who invited them to play volleyball with them: "Sports and health go hand-in-hand!". After enjoying their local volleyball experience the group joyfully kept cycling to explore the natural beauty of Northern Vietnam on their way to Yen Bai.

The following days, the weather was on our side: the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the average temperature was around 26C. The bikers continued their journey through mighty mountains and forests, beautiful rice field landscapes and poetic tea hills. On their way, the team had the chance to visit Rikolto’s project sites to meet and exchange experiences with farmer organizations, Rikolto's partners in Vietnam, and local staff from the Hanoi office. The first location on their agenda was My Bang Tea Hill in Tuyen Quang province where Rikolto provided capacity building for local technicians as part of a project on sustainable tea in collaboration with The Rainforest Alliance. The next site in their journey was Tan Duc Cooperative in Viet Tri, Phu Tho. Between 2011 and 2016, Rikolto supported the Cooperative to set up and operate a local Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) in order to guarantee the quality of its safe vegetables. It has since then been a trusted supplier of safe vegetables in the community. Finally, the bikers visited Trac Van Collaborative Group in Ha Nam, with whom Rikolto implemented the project “Empowering female farmers through organic vegetables production and marketing”, funded by Hanoi International Women’s Club.

During their journey, the bikers were impressed by the astonishing nature of Northern Vietnam who left a deep impression in their heart, especially Ba Vi National Park with its beautiful blooming flowers stretching along the slope up to the hill. Even when an accident struck one of the riders who could no longer ride his bike and had to follow the team in a pickup truck, the spirit of solidarity and determination of the group was not affected, and became even stronger.

Time is up

After more than 100km of cycling through Hoa Binh, Ha Nam and a relaxing evening on Tuan Chau island, the team and their bicycles, took the ferry-boat to Cat Hai port to take part in the last stage of the journey on Cat Ba island. On April 22, the group had a relaxing day in Ha Long Bay, one of the World Heritage Sites, before returning to Hanoi to discover the beautiful capital on their last day in Vietnam. As the journey came to an end, it seemed hard for the “super” group to say goodbye to Vietnam and its people. One member even said: "I’m sad that the last 10 days flied so fast, I wish I could stay here longer".

In October 2018, about 40 new bikers - all entrepreneurs - will join the 4th edition of the Vietnam Bike Classic with the next group expected to take on the road in April 2019. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more photos, videos and updates on this new bike classic edition in Vietnam. We are looking forward to this next journey!