Tumi is 29 yrs old and grew up in Maseru, Lesotho. He was raised solely by his mother, who has owned a craft stand at the border for many years. We haven’t met her yet, but from our conversations, it’s obvious that she is largely responsible for his entrepreneurial spirit and his understanding of basic business principles.
When Tumi was 15 yrs old, he started riding bikes. A friend of his from Joburg brought him a BMX bicycle - and in Tumi’s words – “it changed my life.” His mother would send him to other villages to get supplies and run errands and Tumi would rarely be seen without his bike. He immediately understood the impact this machine would have on his daily life, from transport to health and fitness. In 2002, a neighbor who had seen Tumi riding everywhere and everyday recommended he enter a competition, a road race from Maseru up into the mountains. This neighbor even loaned him a mountain bike to train – this bike had been purchased 150km away in Bloemfontein, SA – even today, the closest place to get bikes or parts. Could you imagine needing a passport to get new brake pads??
Tumi trained every day for the 86 km race, riding the course several times on this heavy full suspension mountain bike. For the race, Tumi “converted” his BMX bike to a road bike, adding a cassette and r. derailleur, shifters, and skinny tires (we’re still not sure how this is possible but as you’ll see later, Tumi is extremely resourceful). He finished well among the international pack of professional cyclists and hard core roadies with expensive road bikes. This was the point where he fell in love with cycling as a sport. He spent the next several years finding any information he could on bikes and cycling, and training to develop his skills as a racer and a mechanic. During this time, he was working at a TV factory and after being forced to work overtime and with no time to train, Tumi quit. It was time for him to pursue his dream and open his own bicycle repair shop. There were some cheap and very poor quality “China bikes” here that needed repair but no one in the town, maybe even in the country, had the skills, the tools or the parts.
That was 2008 and shortly after opening his repair shop, armed with the knowledge of what the sport of cycling did for him, he started Tumi’s Bicycle Club. His goal was to give other kids in his city the same opportunity that he got from his neighbor back in 2002. One of the many amazing things about Tumi is his boundless generosity. He truly believes in his community and has worked hard to uplift it. His wasn’t the first cycling club in Maseru, but his was the first to focus on kids and on the local population while the others catered to adults and ex-pats. He has since started 3 other sister clubs in the villages outside of Maseru, with over 60 members all together, almost all of them kids.
Tumi’s vision is to be the guy that can supply local riders and the kids in his clubs with quality affordable bikes, parts, and mechanical service. He feels strongly that if he had an adequate supply he could get more people to use bikes for transport and for sport. He is recognized all over town as the bike guy, and he is often stopped while training his kids and asked about where to get a good bike – soon, he will have a good answer.