By Sujata Rajpal
If you are a morning walker who likes to walk on the main road rather than taking multiple rounds in a park, then you must have spotted cyclists in droves on the side of the road in neon vests, head gears shining on their heads like a halo, stylish sunglasses making them look like a star, water bottles on the undersides, these cool dudes surely inject spikes of envy to the humble morning walkers.
Welcome to the ‘new’ sport made fashionable by the pandemic. In fact, there is nothing new about cycling. In olden times when the roads were sparsely dotted with vehicles and the four-wheelers were not so affordable, people cycled to work but it is only now that cycling is popular as a form of exercise and hobby. The cycling boom, which started after the first lockdown, continues today with greater vigour. With gyms, swimming pools, indoor sports activities and outdoor group activities closed, the residents of the royal city have taken to cycling in a big way.
Mysureans have the advantage of good roads which are not crowded all the time and the weather conducive for outdoor sports like cycling. Of late, a greater number of people from varied age groups and professions have joined this bandwagon.
Even if cycling is an old sport, modern day cycling is not just pick up your father’s cycle and start pedalling. The cycle has to be sturdy, easy to ride and comfortable. Each member of the house has his own cycle according to one’s requirement.
Every pocket of the city has a cycling group. One such group is of the residents of Sankalp Central Park (SCP), the elite residential society at Yadavagiri.
‘Cycling is such a sport that people can start at any age. Many in their fifties are first time cyclists,’ says Manish Raj who spearheads the group at Sankalp Central Park along with his wife Kavita Chauhan who shares his interest of cycling. A motley group of over two dozen cycling enthusiasts (both men and women) from varied professions such as medicos, businessmen, students and housewives, cycle twice a week to various destinations. Most are busy professionals, but they find out time for this sport.
‘One can start short distance cycling on one’s own but long distance cycling needs more planning, so it is advisable to go in a group with experienced cyclists,’ tells Manish Raj who has been involved in long distance cycling for the past six years. He is also a part of cyclist group outside this housing society. They cover approximately 85 kms in three hours.
Long distance cycling needs more planning as one needs to decide the route which has minimal traffic, carry food, a tool kit, back up cycles, the luggage in case of overnight halt and other logistics have to be kept in mind.
In the past, the group has travelled to Nanjangud, Ooty, Chikmagalur, Agumbe Ghat, Charmadi Ghat and Wayanad.
Besides the benefits of fitness and health, cycling is also a great way to socialise while maintaining social distancing. Cycling being a family sport, it is always fun to have more number of people in the group.
Pandemic or no pandemic, it appears Mysureans’ love for cycling is here to stay.
The cyclists of Sankalp are: Manish Raj, Dr. Nagesh Shivanna, Dr. Vipin Kaverappa, Chidhambara Shivanna, Dr. Kumaran, Dr. Shyam Sarvoday, Dr. Ravikiran, Mahadev Swamy, Manish Gupta, Suresh Patil, Dr. Prasanna, Rajiv Ranjan, Santosh Rao, Shan Pinto, B.V. Vibhav, Dr. Shivanand, Nishanth Ramkrishna, Dr. Shailesh Pene, Manoj Lodha, Kavita Chauhan, Shankari Kumaran, Shikha Manish, Sunita Rajiv, Dr. Rati, Dr. Priyanka Talvade, Vanita Rao, Monika, Anu Mahadev Swamy, Shwetha and Dr. Parvathi.