When the bicycling bug bites it takes the rider a long distance. That’s what happened with Joseph Nixon, Leju K.D. and Jayaprasad K.G.—three cyclists from the city who are its first set of Super Randonneurs (SR). The title is given to riders who complete 1,500 km in a year, in four rides—200, 300, 400 and 600kms. The trio recently completed the 600 km Kochi-Kanyakumari-Kochi route riding for 40 hours—two nights and a day—to achieve the title.
The last few years have seen an increasing interest in the sport, both as a leisure indulgence and as a competition, in the city, thanks to the several cycling clubs that popularise and support the interest. The Cochin Bikers Club (CBC) is behind the success of this feat.
Nixon, 37, runs a carpentry workshop in Nettoor. His love for cycling was confined to the city with no exposure to long distance riding. He was detected with very high blood sugar and asked to exercise regularly. It was cycling that he chose to keep his diabetes in control. He found support from CBC and began participating in the Brevets (200km plus) rides. Not only did his medical condition improve, buy also disappear completely over time. His family—wife Sumi, three kids and parents—loves to bicycle and supports his passion. Fifty-year-old Leju runs Aiswarya hotel in N. Parvur. After the day’s work, he indulges in his passion for riding. Leju has recently bought a gear cycle which he uses for long distance. On buying an expensive bike he says that it’s better to spend on a bike than on medicines. Leju is not Facebook savvy and found his network of rider friends through CBC. He began participating in the several events conducted by the club, each ride bolstering him for greater endurance rides and challenges. His family pitches in with the running of the hotel when Leju participates in such events.
Jayaprasad K.G, 50, is employed at CMFRI and cycles to his workplace daily. He uses no other means of transport other than the cycle, by choice. It takes him 25 minutes to reach his workplace at High Court from Nettoor, which he says would have taken about 40 minutes if he used any other form of travel. Jayaprasad has been cycling for the last 25 years. He has participated in many competitions held by his company and has won several awards but introduction to CBC led him to experience a new and different sort of riding pleasure, he says. When he began cycling 25 years ago he did not enjoy the support he receives today. At that time he needed to motivate himself. He had to often go to Thiruvanathapuram to look for cycle spare parts as the city did not have a good cycle store. Often he used to meet young riders, mostly college students, but he remembers that they could not match his speed. His passion then was often looked down upon and often with much curiosity. “People thought I had lost my mind,” he says with a laugh. But locally in Paravur he was able to start a cycle club. CBC events have given him the desired outlet for his passion.
The recent achievement by the trio makes them eligible for participating in prestigious events like Paris-Brest-Paris Ride of 1230 km or London-Edinburg-London of 1400 km or the Boston-Montreal-Boston of 1200 km. They say, “to ride for two days and a night was fun. The rains made it better. We love climbs and the Kollam to Thriuvanthapuram route was replete with it.”
Shagzil Khan, the co-ordinator of Brevet Events for the club says, “For persons like Nixon, Leju and Jayaprasad, who are not professional riders, the fact that they attempted a super randonneur and successfully completed it is a feat. Our club aims to give opportunities to maximum riders to make them eligible for ultra long distance international events. It gives us incomparable satisfaction”
This achievement has given the three a new finishing line to dream of, carrying with them good wishes from the city.