The following was the original draft with hyperlinks in place for an article in the Hindu – http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/karnataka/article2126075.ece (A copy towards the end, Photo Courtesy: Ramalakshmi Subramanian)
Spoilt for choice, are we?The Bangalore Bikers Calendar is always bustling with activity. Just this weekend we had a Bangalore Bikers Championship race on Rajankunte road with a good turn out where other cities struggle to get bikers come out on a Sunday morning. Another group that organizes cycling tours, Cycling and More, is just back from their ride Green Aisle 2. They organized a second one due to the many registrations and now they need to organize a third which will be in July. Yet another such group, Tandem Trails, has opened their registrations for The Great Malnad Challenge – 800+ kms. Last but not the least, 4th Edition of the most coveted cycling event, Tour oF Nilgiris (TfN), has been announced and is already overbooked. The tour will take 100 bikers across 1000 kms of very beautiful and challenging terrain in the hills of the South. Hardly a weekend goes by when you don’t have bikers blazing trails.It’s different!
Things have changed drastically from what it used to be a few years back. One had to probably wait 2-3 months before (s)he got a bike of choice. Today one can go into any of the dozen stores and in all possibility find a good bike with the right size. There are several players in the market and the prizes of high end bikes have come down significantly. Mr. Rakesh Shah, owner of RR International Bikes, told that the sales of Roadstar which was one of the highest selling bike in the 90s has gone down significantly in the last few years but since the advent of high end bikes the business has been flourishing. A lot of people who can commute to work are now considering using these cool bikes to go to work. We have conducted over 50 workshops in various corporates, colleges and apartments to encourage biking to work and otherwise. The traffic and pollution are more a threat for people on motor bikes comes as a surprise to many. The various tours have helped mitigate the myths surrounding biking as well. The many renting options help also since people can now try bikes before the make hefty investments.
Biking is also becoming a serious sport with the many Bicycling Championships and the Bangalore Brevets. There are several racing teams competing in these events and with the Brevets many riders are testing their grit and determination to the fullest. I remember a post, when I was new to group, discouraging newbies to try very long distances without training and now some 120 odd riders go to Nandi as if it were a picnic on a month end long ride. Stats from the brevets – a distance of 200 kms was covered by 100+ riders under 15 hours, around 40+ people did 300 kms in under 20 hours, 30+ did 400 kms and 20+ riders did a 600 km ride in under 40 hours. If your jaws haven’t dropped yet there is soon going to be a 1000 km brevet. Even as I write this, a serious rider, Samim Rizvi is cycling 3000 miles (4800 kms) across America in The Race Across America(RAAM) in about a week – Hey Raam! It won’t be a surprise if we had a Race Across India very soon.
I have been cycling for as long as I can remember. Started with a BSA champ in 2nd grade and dreamed of buying cool bikes and cycling everywhere when I grew up. Now I am living that dream. I worked with RideACycle Foundation(RACF) on a 3 month sabbatical and that’s where I got into evangelizing biking. Been part of most of the workshops conducted to encourage biking and love the growing numbers of the bums on the saddles – we plan to work in a more organized way to increase the same with the Wheels of Change program. Always loved this quote –
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” – H. G. Wells
These numbers give a high but nothing beats the kick you get when you beat your own limits. My favorite ride was from Manali to Leh last year covering 420 kilometers – we had a blast. A more rigorous test was the Tour oF Nilgiris (TfN) with 800+ kms covered in 7 days. Hoping to do the MTB Himachal this year.