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Apr 01, 2023 / 11:22

Hanoi fosters mass cycling

As one of the three localities in the country with the strongest cycling movements, Hanoi is promoting cycling among sports enthusiasts and working to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Hanoi has lovely and green spaces that are ideal for cycling thanks to a climate that is cool almost all year round and a vast system of lakes and water surfaces. 

 Cycling is a favorite sport for everyone of different ages and occupations. Photo: Bong Hong

Recognizing the recent rise in the popularity of cycling, Hanoi’s authority is now directing localities and units to promote this sustainable activity, encouraging the city's entire strata to lead healthy lifestyles.

A need for more competitions to broaden the playing field

Besides well-liked exercises such as jogging, badminton, aerobics, or soccer, cycling has gained strength in Hanoi City and across the nation. Cycling helps people, especially sedentary office workers who spend most of their time on computers, not only improve their muscles, breathing, and mental power but also relax by taking in the sights of the city.

The presence of numerous bicycle clubs in Hanoi, one of the three cities in Vietnam with the strongest cycling movements, is advantageous for the growth of riding, according to the municipal Department of Culture and Sports.

Many Hanoians prefer to ride bicycles as a form of exercise in the early morning, at dusk, and especially on the weekend. For those in need, there are bicycle rental shops around West Lake. Bui Quy Luong (34, Hoang Mai District), a senior cyclist, said that he rotates between cycling days and jogging days to maintain his enthusiasm.

Besides spontaneous cyclists, there are also amateur races held throughout the districts, towns, and businesses in the capital, with the participation of many amateur two-wheeler clubs.

An illustration of this is the Hanoi Open Cycling Race, which has been held by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports in collaboration with the Hanoi Bicycle and Sports Motorcycle Federation and draws professional and amateur riders from all over the country for five seasons.

 Foreign expats in Hanoi joined Hanoi Open Cycling Race. Photo: Jaap van Norel

After a three-year suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the race is expected to come back at the end of August this year.

“The Hanoi Open Cycling Race is an annual event that draws skilled cyclists from many provinces and cities. The competition’s last season, which took place in 2019, the tournament featured over 300 athletes from more than 30 bicycle clubs in provinces, cities, and industries. Athletes competed by age groups such as 18 to 35, 35 to 45, or 46 to 55,” Nguyen Chai, Chairman of the Hanoi Bicycle and Sports Motorcycle Federation told The Hanoi Times.

Even though the Hanoi Open Cycling Race is an amateur tournament, the Organizing Board has made every effort to run the race in the most professional manner, in order to attract strong athletes in the past years.

According to Quach Thuy Linh, General Secretary of the Hanoi Bicycle and Sports Motorcycle Federation, the Organizing Board has invited more than 20 national-level referees, who are appropriately arranged on motorcycles to supervise the racetrack and the finish line, ensuring transparency and fairness for the tournament.

“The race will have more than 50 sport motorcycles for navigation and safety support along the track. Two Hanoi 115 Emergency Center crews will be stationed close to the competition area. Plans have also been made to ensure security and safety. Despite its local scale, this is really a playground for cyclists throughout the country,” she confirmed.

Popularizing the exercise movement

 Cycling around West Lake is a healthy way to enjoy the view and exercise for many Hanoians. Photo: Bong Hong 

The amateur sports competitions help find future professional athletes and pursuit of high-performance goals. More tournaments like the Hanoi Open Cycling Race, the HTV Cup national cycling race, and the VTV International Cycling Tournament - Ton Hoa Sen Cup should be held across the nation.

However, the organization of a large-scale tournament is still quite challenging in communities and even in Hanoi, the capital. This is because, among other reasons, the lack of facilities for cycling training, and insufficient resources mobilized for the development of cycling. According to Nguyen Chai, the federation has worked out a specific plan, focusing on training a staff of professional coaches and referees to take part in tournaments.

On the other hand, it will focus on encouraging sponsors to contribute and support the development of the city’s cycling movement, turning the sport into one of the most popular and productive forms of physical exercises for people, and developing a network of amateur bicycle clubs that spans all districts and towns in the city.

Seeking sources of funding for professional cyclists to develop high-performance athletes is a prerequisite to achieving the goal of promoting a sustainable mass sport, in parallel with spreading the exercise movement and building a strong off-road cycling team that contributes more athletes to the national team.

The presence of numerous bicycle clubs in Hanoi,  according to Tran Duc Phan, Deputy Director of the Department of Sports and Physical Training, under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, was an advantage for the growth of this sport.

“Clubs are essential to the growth of the cycling movements. By making good use of the advantage, Hanoi can host a top-notch bicycle race, enhancing the capital’s reputation among both sports enthusiasts and tourists,” he stated.

Cycling routes around Hanoi

Members of Hanoi Cycling Club on the race. Photo: HCC

A healthy weekend activity for many Hanoians is riding around West Lake to take in the scenery and get some exercise. With nearly 18 kilometers of shore length, the largest lake in Hanoi is considered the ideal cycling location for both amateurs to professionals.

The lake is seen as the most beautiful one thanks to nice landscapes and various historical and cultural sites of Hanoi and Vietnam by its shore, such as Tran Quoc Pagoda, the city’s oldest Buddhist temple; Quan Thanh Temple, one of the four sacred temples of ancient Hanoi; Nghi Tam village with silkworm, bonsai, and ornamental fish trade; or Nhat Tan village which is famed for flower planting trade.

West Lake and Ve Ho Street are familiar cycling paths for Hoang Linh, a member of the office staff in Hanoi.

“The roads are large, flat, and uncrowded suitable for both professional and amateur cyclists. Moreover, the surrounding landscape is stunning and cycling gives me the chance to discover more of the lake's hidden germs,” she shared with The Hanoi Times.

Local bikers frequently travel to Sword Lake alongside West Lake. Located in the heart of the capital, it is an ideal place for those who love cycling in the early morning or late afternoon. As they cycle past lush green streets, they are delighted by the views of the But Thap or Pen Tower and the thousand-year-old Ngoc Son Temple reflecting in the crystal clear water.

Professional cyclists in Hanoi, meanwhile, usually choose the longer and wider routes like Thang Long Boulevard in the city’s west, Nhat Tan Bridge, Dong Tru Bridge, and Vincom Village in Long Bien District. These cycling routes are said to be less congested, straighter, and devoid of dangerously rough terrains.

Cycling helps Hanoians to improve their muscles, breathing and mental power while relaxing with great sceneries of the city. Photo: HCC