Cyclists on a mission Life & Style

From Delhi to Mumbai: Eighteen cyclists on a mission to raise awareness on pedestrian and cyclist safety

On mission Cyclists at India Gate

On mission Cyclists at India Gate   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

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The G2G ride had 18 cyclists set out to cover 1,460 kilometres in six days and five nights; nine finished the ride that was done to raise awareness about pedestrian and cyclist safety

In the early evening of December 20, nine bicyclists made it to the Gateway of India, riding together, from Thane. They had waited there for the group to assemble, wanting to do the last leg of their 1,460 kilometre- journey from Delhi to Mumbai, together.

It was a motley group from diverse places and backgrounds. There was Shankar Thakur, a 22-year-old boy from Delhi, who cycle-delivered goods for an e-commerce website. He cycled the whole way on a Neelam, without gears or any of the sophisticated devices that many of the others had, finishing ahead of everyone else. Anita, a professional with an insurance company, cycled slow, often arriving at pitstops at 4 am, then taking off again at 9 am, but never giving up. Dr Mukesh Tripathi, an orthopaedic surgeon, came in from Satna, Madhya Pradesh, while Ram Babu, a banker, came in from Mumbai. Rohit Rajagopalan, the head of a start-up from Delhi, wanted to prove that someone living with diabetes could finish the challenge. What they all had in common, was the fact that they were super randonneurs.

The aim was to declare “If we could cycle from Delhi to Mumbai, along highways, traffic, and dust, you can cycle to work,” says Dr Chiro Priyo Mitra, a vet, who organised the ride, the third of its kind in three years. The official message: The harmonious co-existence of four-wheelers and two-wheelers on the highway. “We got World Ultra Cycling Association (WUCA) accreditation,” he says.

Start line

When word was put out in March this year about the event, Chiro got 89 registrations that he screened, to ensure that people were physically and mentally fit enough to take part.

“We shortlisted 20, and 18 showed up at the start line, India Gate, in this case,” he says. The ride cost ₹40,000 all-inclusive, with a support truck with riders until 11 pm, and two back-up bikes.

Every place they went, local cyclists welcomed them, and helped with mechanics, if needed. Chiro recalls the first ride he did two years ago, when a local newspaper in Bhilwara picked up news that a bunch of riders were passing through. The tea stall where they’d stopped for a break welcomed them and refused to take money.

Finish point

Along the way, while there were no mishaps, people dropped out for various reasons, from fatigue to saddle sores. They rode on the highway, at elevations as high as 5,700 metres, mostly through the desert, with low temperatures and rugged routes, the Aravallis going by their side.

“The Delhi to Jaipur leg is the most difficult — it’s dusty, the traffic is terrible and people don’t follow road rules,” says Chiro. Ram Babu had a nasty fall, but decided to continue without suturing the wound, or he would not have been able to ride. A few people chose to ride together some distance, but in the end, it’s all about willpower and the mind, says Chiro.

What is a super randonneur (SR)?

A person who cycles these distances in a year:

200 km in 13.5 hours

300 km in 20 hours

400 km in 27 hours

600 km in 40 hours

‘I didn’t know I had it in me’

Rohit Rajagopalan, 28, took up cycling at the beginning of the year. “I don’t like to go to the gym; it doesn’t get me going. Everything is the same — the music, the machines, the environment,” he says. “On a cycle, even if I’m taking the same route there’ll always be something new, like a bike guy who’ll come into you!”

On his first long ride with Chiro, Rohit didn’t know how to manage his insulin. “My sugar was through the roof, and the reading didn’t register on the meter because it was that high.” His doctor had told him to get off the insulin pump, and he’d been without it for 15 hours. “I don’t know how I made it back home that day.” He did, and thought he wouldn’t ride again. “I thought I’d park the cycle in the garage and take up walking.”

But later that year, when G2G was announced, he was tempted to try, though with some concern from his family. He met with Dr Ganesh Jevalikar, who practises at the Medanta Mediclinic in Delhi, who advised him on the right use of the pump during an endurance sport. “With some trial and error, I found the right setting for me.” Soon he finished the 200, then the rest of the SR races, and was ready for G2G.

Route

Delhi – Jaipur

Jaipur – Bhilwara

Bhilwara – Kherwara (Rajasthan)

Kherwara – Vadodara

Vadodara – Talasari (Maharashtra)

Talasari – Mumbai

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 10:10:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/eighteen-cyclists-on-a-mission-to-raise-awareness-on-pedestrian-and-cyclist-safety/article25870171.ece

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