Speeding down the path, ringing my bell in delight, I suddenly pulled my brakes and turned around to see my red faced friends. As I basked in my moment of glory, I looked at my brand new bicycle with the sort of pride that is reserved only for the most treasured of possessions.
Riding a bicycle was just one of those things that you took for granted in your childhood, as you never imagined that there would come a day when you would dump your once prized possession in the garage and never think about it again.
In today’s fast paced world, it is very difficult for us to take out the bicycle again, as the Ubers and Olas of this world provide us with a more convenient mode of transport.
Some people may not know this, but India has had a cycling culture that dates back to the 1980s.
But the lack of dedicated lanes and proper infrastructure has stifled cycling enthusiasts all over the country, as they then have to resort to occasional rides on weekends or holidays.
That might be about to change though, as people in metro cities are fast shifting to a healthier lifestyle, due to growing awareness and infrastructure. Be it diet, exercise, or the know-how about the route to a healthier lifestyle, the metro population is more mindful than ever.
People are taking up brevets, century rides and adventure tours.
Cycling groups in metros are the new way to socialise and connect. Their size might vary from a handful of friends to close to 5000 people in cities like New Delhi and Mumbai.
While a lot of people do it for just a bit of exercise or for leisure, there is a growing community of serious budding cyclists in India.
CYCLING PROJECTS IN CITIES
The city of Mysore (Mysuru) in Karnataka is way ahead in terms of these initiatives(cycling groups).
It saw the launch of Public Bicycles Sharing (PBS) project in June 2017. The project ‘Trin Trin’ allows the general public to borrow bicycles from any of the 48 docking stations set up across the city and return them to another one nearest to their destination.
The programme was conceived by the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and implemented by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT). Public bicycle sharing projects are common in countries such as the US, China, the Netherlands and the UK.
Taking cue from this project, the Maharashtra Government is developing a cycling track in Mumbai. The 39-km-long and 10-m-wide track, called ‘Green Wheels Along Blue Lines’, will be built on an open space, created by removing 15,000 encroachments along the Tansa pipeline—stretching from the eastern suburb of Mulund to Wadala in Mumbai city.
Non-government and community based efforts are also shaping the rise of cycling culture in metros. Cycling groups in the metros are also increasing with people taking up cycling as a way of life and health. These groups ride 3-4 times a week and their activity spikes up on weekends. They may cover distances as high as 100 km or maybe even more. It is all up to your lungs and legs.
TYPES OF BICYCLES
There is a shift in the quality of bikes that most riders now use. A lot of high-end bikes are now on sale in the metros in the showrooms. For those who are unaware, there are broadly three types of bikes – mountain bikes – with thick tyres that range between ₹ 10,000 to 10 lakh rupees (yeah, you read that right).
Then there is the ‘Hybrid’, which is a city bike that can set you back anywhere between ₹ 15000 and 2 lakh.
Finally there is the ‘road bike’ with extremely thin tyres supporting a lighter frame that ranges between ₹ 35,000 to ₹ 10 lakh.
There is also a full support system in place from regular service, repair and spare parts to cycling gear and every possible accessory at the one stop stores, which are located all over the country.Designs now incorporate various structural changes for road, mountains, terrain, hybrids and even tandem bikes!
Everyday Adventure Campaign
There are many companies, such as Firefox for example, that start several campaigns in an effort to increase awareness among the general public.
Their #EverydayAdventure campaign is used to promote and urge people to shift to not only a healthier, but also a greener mode of transport.
The campaign was a huge success as people shared their stories on social media and connected virtually in an effort to bring about a change.
Auto Expo 2018
In what is the biggest show for bikes and automobiles in India – The Auto Expo 2018, Firefox is launching two new bikes with the aim of a healthier and greener India.
One of them is a MTB – Stravaro which is suitable for off-road adventure trails. It has Shimano Hydraulic brakes, SR XCM High Performance Front Shock Travel, and MTB 29er Performance Frame Geometry.
The other is a Road Bike named Volante – equipped with a smooth weld frame, internal cabling, a rigid support and a full-palm grip support for long uninterrupted rides. The aim remains the same – drive people out of their bed and make them ride!
The real deal is you. No matter what the bike is, it is you who will ride it. Riders actually vouch for increased satisfaction, inner stability and strength, apart from the evident physical well-being after taking up cycling.
Cycling has that effect. It changes you. It liberates you. More importantly, it makes you realize your strengths, strengths you might have never known. It transforms your view of life. The bottom line is – Cycling makes you happy.
So go out and pedal!