Chennai

Taking a cycling route to our roots

Members of Cycling Yogis at the Royapuram Railway Station; and (below) at Pulicat. Photo: Special Arrangement

Members of Cycling Yogis at the Royapuram Railway Station; and (below) at Pulicat. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Republic Day Heritage Ride, which celebrates its eighth edition today, is now part of the city’s cycling calendar

‘A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke” — so goes a famous saying, attributed to author and cyclist Scott Stoll.

As Cycling Yogis, a Chennai-based group of cycling enthusiasts, are celebrating the eight edition of what they call the Republic Day Heritage Ride, the saying rings true.

A pedal stoke started in 2013 has covered much ground in the world of heritage, putting the spotlight on many less-known heritage locations in and around Chennai. Over the years, it has tried to broadbase the definition of heritage by going beyond architecture-based heritage sites to encompass those imbued with natural history.

Here are some of the snapshots of the Republic Day Heritage Ride as it played out, over the years:

In 2013, around 40 cyclists took part in the first edition of the Republic Day Heritage Ride. Flagged off at Madhya Kailash, it culminated at Mamallapuram.

In 2014, the cyclists rode to the backwaters of Pulicat. Starting from MCC High School, Harrington Road, the route winded through Perambur, Madhavaram, Moolakaddai, Puzhal, Redhills, Thatchoor, Ponneri and reached its final destination at Pulicat.

In 2018, 50 cyclists rode to Gingee Fort, covering a distance of 150km.

The ride that began in the wee hours at Santhome Inn, Chennai ended at Gingee Fort by noon.

In 2019, 50 cyclists participated in the heritage ride to Kancheepuram, which flagged off from OMR.

This year, the 8th edition of Republic Day Heritage Ride is pedalling outside Chennai to another city, the temple town of Kumbakonam. On 24th January, 20 cyclists from Chennai set out on their cycling journey along with other riders from across Tamil Nadu to discover the roads that lead to the nine Navagraha temples around Kumbakonam. Today being the last day of the three-day heritage ride, the cyclists will be finishing their 250+ kms ride on the saddle.

With the cycle tour being headed by Girija Palani, a passionate cyclist, the team comprises of four women who are creating history on this first ever cycling tour of Navagraha temples. The three-day cycling tour aims at promoting one of the busiest pilgrimage routes in Tamil Nadu as an eco-friendly travel circuit through cycling. On finishing, the cyclists will be awarded with a specially designed wooden medal featuring the details of the tour.

Discovering heritage

“Seeing the world from a bicycle is completely different from viewing it through the tinted windows of a traditional tour bus.

By cycling to heritage sites, you get a deeper understanding of these places, how civilisation grew around them, about the natural resources and waterbodies that existed or still exist in these areas,” says Ramanujar.

The group organises heritage-based cycling rides across the year in Chennai, including on World Heritage Day in April, Madras Day in August, and Republic Day in January.

These trips attract people from different walks of life who share a common passion for cycling and heritage.

While the World Heritage Ride has thus far been about museums in Dakshinchitra and the likes, the Madras Day Heritage Rides in August have covered intracity expeditions to Triplicane, Mylapore, Royapuram, Perambur, Cooum River (Kesavaram), Sadras Fort, Adyar River (Manimangalam), Thirukazhikundram.

More than just being a sight-seeing trip, the cyclists get engaged at their pit stops to stop and look at the historical annotations of the place fuelling their quest to know more about their roots.

Every year in November, Cycling Yogis also organises a heritage site clean-up of the St. Fort George, open to public participation.

To join Cycling Yogis and participate in the heritage rides across Chennai, join their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cyclingyogis/

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 6:21:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/taking-a-cycling-route-to-our-roots/article30651583.ece

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