Barcelona’s Bike Babe

20 Jun

Txell and Steven

Txell Hernandez Gill is a Barcelona born bike babe. In her spare time, she runs Barcelona’s Cycle Chic chapter, which she set up two years ago. In the daytime, she works for BACC (a Catalonian cycling organisation). But the two jobs aren’t enough to satisfy her cycling appetite. Txell’s Belgian born boyfriend Steven is also heavily into cycling. He moved to Barcelona 10 years ago for a 6 month internship, but ended up staying to set up a bike courier company: Pedal. Now he and his colleagues cycle the city in black clothes on Bullit cargo bikes, darting past traffic to get deliveries there faster*.

Txell was also responsible for the program of the Cycle Chic Blogger Conference we’ve been blogging about this weekend. We have already written about the Cycle Chic Breakfast and conference venue with bikes in the bathtub. The last item we want to share: our guided cycling tour through San Joan Despi, a small town located 20 minutes by train from Barcelona.

St Joan Despi is worth a visit for three reasons. First, it is the home of Jujol (Gaudi’s most famous disciple). Second, it’s where FC Barcelona (a football club that recently won a trophy) has its training camp. And finally: the people of San Joan Despi are increasingly into cycling – which is why their mayor organised a private cycling tour through his town for us.

The mayor also arranged for a private police escort. As we moved from modernist cultural heritage to the pitch of FC Barcelona’s training site, the Catalonian police officers whizzed by on electric bikes – halting at junctions, blowing their whistles, stopping all traffic. When we parked our bikes to go into a modernist building and hear our guide elaborate on the architect’s religious background (one of Jujol’s buildings is wholly dedicated to Virgin Mary), the officers would stay outside to guard them. At the closing reception in the local library – with tortilla, bocaditos con Jamon, and a musical quartet playing guitarra music – the police even helped us carry our bikes into the patio.

Secure bike parking in San Joan Despi

The evening ended with a night time bike ride back to Barcelona city (film footage should be on Mikael Colville-Andersen’s ‘Copenhagen Cycle Chic’ shortly). There, in the Barcelonetta neighbourhood, we went for a drink to celebrate cycling.

At the bar, the security for stalling our bikes was again well taken care of. The bouncer couldn’t take his eyes off our folded Brompton bikes.

* Note for our Dublin readers: Pedal BCN reminded us of Velocity Couriers here in Dublin; who have the exact same cargo bike; except theirs is white. And their outfit is green.

Modernist building by San Joan Despi -- in foreground: Mikael Colville Andersen (Copenhagen), Anne Williams (Montreal), and Maria Elisa Ojeda (Barcelona)

Cycle Chic Bloggers enter FC Barcelona's training grounds

Bouncer watching Brompton bikes

One Response to “Barcelona’s Bike Babe”

  1. shuichi - mama bicycle - July 11, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Hello You visited Barcelona, Spain, right? I have noticed that you did while reading a recent entry on Copenhagenize.com. How did you feel when you were there? Did more people ride their bicycles in Barcelona than you had expected? Thank you.

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