We chat up an organiser of cycle rallies and a few cyclists to find out what beckons them to roll the wheels on the roads.
Remember the days when we used to cycle around the neighbourhood with friends for company? Thanks to the resurgence of cycling and the government taking some initiatives to make our cities cycle-friendly, the idea does not seem pure nostalgia after all.
So what makes cycling so popular? Rohit Kuttappa, CEO and Co-Founder of choosemybicycle.com, an online portal that sells bicycles across India says, “Cycling is easy. There aren’t any negative impacts of cycling. Many doctors also suggest it as a part of your fitness regime.”
The demand for cycles has grown exponentially as people have become more health and fitness-conscious. Also, the investment required to cycle is minimum.
According to Kuttappa, cycling is now perceived as ‘cool’, which was not the case earlier. “Earlier, cycling was considered only as a mode of commute, mainly for the poor, who could not afford a two-wheeler. The fitness factor coupled with the entry of top international brands in India has added a glamour factor to the cycling industry,” he adds.
Socialising through cycling
Along with fitness, socialising while cycling is the new ‘in’ thing. Many corporates enjoy spending leisure time among a group of like-minded cyclists from other backgrounds and walks of life. It helps them in networking across the community.
The influence of social media has played a pivotal role in goading a large section of teenagers into cycling. Watching their friends or peers pose in envious backgrounds with their mountain or road bikes has attracted the insta-youth.
Fitness and fun
Nitin Mahajan, a fitness enthusiast and cyclist, loves long distance cycle rallies. He started cycling as a substitute for gymming and got hooked to it. “The cycling speed is perfect to enjoy the surrounding views. You get to see and experience more on the road,” says Mahajan, whose favourite expeditions include riding approximately 400 km down the Great Ocean Road in Australia and his annual pilgrimage to Goa.
A competitive sport
Apart from a leisure activity, cycling has also been picking up as a competitive sport. With a handful of cycling clubs in the mid-2000s, now a few hundred have mushroomed across the country. These clubs hold leisure as well as long distance cycling rallies around the country. Enduro and Tour of Nilgiris have become the most-sought-after competitions. Kuttappa, who is organising a pan India cycling championship for amateurs, aims to produce more cyclists in the country.
Anand Kurlekar, who started cycling at the age of six, hasn’t stopped cycling yet. “Apart from the evident health benefits, cycling keeps you mentally stable and your systems active. Every time I cycle, it is my small contribution towards reducing environmental pollution. I have saved a small amount of fuel and money too,” adds Kurlekar.
However, in India, cycling still has a long way to go. After travelling across the length and breadth of the country to finalise the details of the championship, Kuttappa felt that Chennai and Pune are the two better places in terms of cycling infrastructure.
“The East Coast Road from Chennai to Mahabalipuram is beautiful and has a dedicated lane for cyclists and motorists. That makes it very safe to ride on. Pune is blessed with an amazing diversity of terrains which makes it an ideal spot for endurance based expeditions,” he adds.
ST Reader Service
The Indian Terrain ‘Deccan Sportive’ event by Rohit Kuttappa, will comprise a 102 km endurance race and a 50 km ride. The 102km race from Balewadi to Kamshet and back will be the competitive leg of the sportive, while the 50 km segment will be a leisure ride. The event will take place on Sunday, September 24. Register by logging on to www.championssportive.com