Sunil Kukade, a Pune-based cycling enthusiast, believes that you should never stop pushing your limits. Recently he set out on a journey that not only tested his passion and love for cycling but was also an initiative to address the rising pollution problem in India. Kukade cycled along the Golden Quadrilateral covering a journey of more than 6000 km that included the four major metro cities of India — Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.
The self-supported solo cycle ride began in Pune and traversing Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, New Delhi, Kanpur, Varanasi, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Vishakhapattnam, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolhapur, concluded in Pune. Kukade set out on the journey on December 2, which is also observed as National Pollution Control Day in India and is coincidently his birthday too.
The cyclist took 30 days to complete the route of more than 6000 km. And this high-intensity ride isn’t his first; he is a regular in long-distance cycling and has covered a lot of areas right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
At the centre of the ride was HOPE — Health Optimism Peace Environment, points out Kukade. He believes that one way in which pollution can be controlled is by burning calories instead of fuel. “While going to work, you can always use a cycle and benefit — save on money and help the environment and most importantly, keep yourself fit and healthy, which is something everyone around the globe wants to do,” he says.
Any kind of physical activity is good for health, Kukade observes. “Our body is designed in a way that it needs a lot of physical activity and exercise, whether it is a simple running or riding a cycle. It keeps our muscles and bones moving and they become stronger over a period,” says Kukade, adding that fitness is more about dedication and endurance. “Once you get the hang of it, you want to push yourself to your maximum limit,” he says.
He suggests taking smaller steps towards exercise, so that your body adjusts to the physical activity and then pushing it to do more.
Kukade’s fitness journey began back in 2014 when he decided that he wanted to run a half marathon. It was the adrenaline rush from the run that kept him going, so he went on to run several half marathons after that. Then he moved to cycling and since then there is no looking back.
“Cycling not only came from a point of passion for the activity but also for the fact that I wanted to highlight the issue of pollution,” says he.
He points out that he has been cycling for the past 4-5 years now, so when it came to this long expedition of his, he was excited. “I did practise everyday, but what helped me the most was the fact that I have already done a few 100 km cycling expeditions. This time, all I had to concentrate on was my endurance,” adds Kukade.
BENEFITS OF CYCLING
The cyclist gives some tips on what people should keep in mind when they want to purchase a cycle. “Cycles come in three variants — Hybrid, Mountain and Road, and the handles are made differently for each variant, which has a direct impact on your body posture,” says Kukade and adds that people must maintain a good posture depending on the type of cycle that they want to ride.
It is extremely important to wear safety gear and make sure you ride your cycle on cycle tracks or in a safe environment, he says.
Cycling is more beneficial as it puts every muscle and bone in the body to work, making your core stronger than ever, points out Kukade. “It really helps in toning of the calf muscles and even arms and the right posture can also help with reducing back pain,” he says.
The initial days of cycling will often leave your body sore but with time, the pain will go away. What you achieve through this high intensity workout is a good physical and mental health, Kukade informs.
For beginners, he suggests cycling for 5 km everyday and then gradually increasing the number of kilometres. “You can slowly start doing more. The key here is being honest and persistent with yourself, because many a times, when your body is tired from the workout session, you feel like resting. So you might even rest the next day, but this is not right. If you have started, continue with it. Your body will eventually get used to this wear and tear and your stamina will increase,” says the cyclist.
Talking about a nutritious diet, Kukade says that he does not follow any particular diet, but makes sure that he consumes healthy and balanced food and doesn’t skip meals. He says that there is no harm in eating what you like as long as you are ready to burn the calories that you have consumed in day.