04 Jun 2024  |   04:12am IST

A mode of transport which promises a healthy lifestyle

World Bicycle Day was celebrated on June 3 and it is a mode of transport which has certainly gained popularity in the State due to its health benefits
 A mode of transport which promises a healthy lifestyle

Ajit John

On April 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 3 as World Bicycle Day. The resolution for World Bicycle Day recognizes "the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, and clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport. The main message is to show that the bicycle belongs to and serves all of humanity."

In Goa, the use of the cycle has increased over the years. At the time of Liberation, the use of cycles was high, it then suffered a dip and now in the present age, it is coming back in terms of popularity. The number of people using geared cycles in the present day is increasing and the number of cycling groups in Goa has increased too.

Amey Kamat of the Panjim Cycling Club said there were around 200 cyclists who were part of the club with 40 to 50 regular riders. Amey is a regular cyclist who has been cycling for three years. In this period of time, he has cycled over 25,000 kilometres. His daily schedule involves cycling 20-30 kilometres, five times a week. Once a month he does 100 kilometres. He has also completed the Super Randonneur races which involve cycling over distances of 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometres within a certain time in a year. 

His motivation came from the fact that at one point in time, he was 100 kilograms and loved to eat. With cycling now, he has reduced to 85 kilograms and has helped him maintain his health. He has been able to avoid lifestyle illnesses like blood pressure and diabetes. Others he said suffered from these health issues and he always advised them to take up cycling. The cycling group does events for the community. They have biking events for children. Conducted for three years, the event would attract between 300-400 kids. They also recently organised a 100 and 50 kilometres event which attracted around 300 riders. The cyclists meet at the circle near the bus stop at 6.30 in the morning. In the month of July they will be doing a tour of Amboli. It will be an overnight trip and will start in Sawantwadi. He said it would be fun though he said numbers had reduced. He said there were people who cycled 25,000 kilometres in a year, but the general public was not very focused on maintaining their health and that was worrying.

Pramod, another avid cyclist for four years, said it started off as a way to maintain his health but then it moved into serious sporting activity with him participating in Half Iron Man. He has cycled over the 400 and 600 kilometres and is part of a group called Fit Swaggers Goa. They keep challenges every month. Participants have to complete 500 kilometres every month. The challenge is to promote fitness. They have also encouraged people to take the cycle to work once a month. The group is based in Porvorim.

Another big group in Goa promoting cycling in Goa is the Xaxti Riders which was founded in 2017. Sameer Nadkarni, the founder and president of the club said he started cycling in 2014. He said the idea behind the club was to make people healthy and happy through cycling. Sameer said, “We cycle every day. Yesterday we had 50 riders cycling. We are based in Margao and we are south based. We have around 300 members and we cycle in village roads of Chandor, Curtorim and the coastal villages of Margao. We start at 5.45 am and finish by 7.45 am. We cycle everyday anywhere between 30-40 kilometres and on Sundays between 60-80 kilometres. Our focus is health and happiness through cycling. We call these rides Immunity booster and Stress buster rides.” He said during the Covid pandemic, the number of cyclists was high because everything else was closed but now it was slowly increasing. He said there were cyclists between the ages of 7 to 73 with an equal number of women riding with the group. 

The popularity of cycling has spread all over Goa.  Ajay Dongre has been cycling for 15 years. He said he was among the first to start cycling in Goa. He said he had an interest in cycling while in school and in the midst he stopped. When high-end bikes came to Goa, he took it up again. Based in Ponda, there is a club called Slopes and Bends, of which he plays an important part. Several rides are organised by the club which attracts participation from outside Goa. The club has organised a Mumbai to Goa trip, Kanyakumari to Goa and a 16 day tour of Sikkim. They also organised exploratory rides in the Western Ghats. He said popularity was certainly increasing. He said the cycle could go where other vehicles cannot go. He said, “Everyone talks about the physical benefits of cycling but the busting of stress is a benefit which is huge.” When he is not cycling, he is a teacher in higher secondary school and manages a cycling shop in Ponda which has branches all over the State.  


Idhar Udhar