03 Jun 2023  |   04:47am IST

Cycling for a better tomorrow, for you and the world

World Bicycle Day is celebrated annually since 2018 by the United Nations to recognize the bicycle as a reliable and sustainable mode of transportation. However, Goan cyclists consider cycling more than just that. The very active cycling community in Goa got a stronger boost during the pandemic and now the cycle is become an extension of a rider
Cycling for a better tomorrow, for you and the world

Dolcy D’Cruz

"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race,” said noted English writer H G Wells. The bicycle has been in use for two centuries, and every childhood story is incomplete without reminiscing about learning to ride a bicycle. Many Goans are going back to cycling, at least to stay fit and enjoy the health benefits.

Margao-based orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Vishwajit Faldesai is the president of Propedalerz Cycling Club, a club that was formed in 2013. In the beginning, it was for the need for an activity on Sundays but the love for cycling grew greater among the friends in Margao. “We were a small group of badminton players from different walks of life. Since on Sundays, the indoor stadium was closed in Margao, we thought of cycling and we began with basic cycles. Over the ten years, the group has grown bigger and we ride every morning,” says Dr Vishwajit.

He recommends cycling at least thrice a week for a duration of 45 minutes to one hour. “A cyclist compulsorily needs helmets, good lights for night or early morning riding, reflectors, protective gloves and special cycling shoes,” advises Dr Vishwajit. One of the signature events organised by the club includes Vorrad 5:55, a duathlon that includes 55 kilometres of cycling and five kilometres of swimming. Dr Vishwajit has completed the Super Randonneur, completed the 1000 kilometres to Pondicherry cycling in 75 hours and clocked 1,200 km from Goa to Kanyakumari in 90 hours in 2019.

Shefali Coulekar from Panjim found a new way to look at life after she took up cycling. As a woman, she is an inspiration to other women to find an activity that they truly enjoy and yet remain fit. One of the leading women cyclists, she is looking forward to completing the 600 kilometres Super Randonneur with a cycling trip to Sawantwadi in August.

Riding for over 14 years, Shefali was initially an ultra-runner who felt monotonous in her running and decided to try cycling. “I started with 50 kilometres and within a few days, I was cycling 100 kilometres. It made me feel good and it was a machine which could take me places while working out. I was completing 200 kilometres within a month and I felt confident to complete the Super Randonneur by cycling for 300 and 400 kilometres and the 600 kilometres will be completed in August. I sustain long rides and I easily complete 24 kilometres in an hour,” says Shefali, a former lecturer at Dempo College of Commerce and Economics, Cujira.

She is at ease to cycle as a solo rider in Goa but when it comes to longer distance taking her out of the state, she prefers the company of fellow riders. “There are many Goan cyclists who have supported and encouraged me in my rides. I have my own schedule which includes a cycling ride every morning. I can breathe fresh air and it rejuvenates my entire day with an adrenaline rush. A woman has to be healthy not only for herself but to take on so many responsibilities. Women should get into cycling as it is an opportunity to spend time on fitness for yourself. It strengthens our legs and upper body. Another advantage is that we can see the natural beauty of Goa throughout the different seasons,” says Shefali, whose daughter Shreya and son, Sarthak, used to cycle with her.

However, she warns beginners that cycling is an expensive sport. “The basic cycle can cost nearly Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 and that amount can you over a lakh depending on the cycles. Besides that, the helmet costs almost Rs 5000 and you cannot cycle without it. There is other riding gears including cycling apparel, knee pads, gloves and most importantly shoes. There are two main types of cycling shoes: flat-pedal shoes and clip-in shoes that clip directly into your pedals,” informs Shefali.

Adv Shashikant Naik is a Curchorem-based lawyer and legal adviser. Once he is out of office, it is cycling that takes his mind off work and he credits cycling for keeping him fit too. An avid cycler right from his school days, he used to cycle even through his higher secondary days. However, as he was pursuing higher studies in Quepem, he had to give up cycling. “I started cycling in 2018 just to keep myself fit as I was diagnosed with very high cholesterol. After cycling within six months, I lost twenty kilograms and I had a complete change of wardrobe. I feel fitter and I have maintained my schedule of cycling. Since then, I have completed the Super Randonneur twice in 2021 and 2022,” says Adv Shashikant.

Speaking about the health benefits of cycling, he says, “Cycling has mental as well as physical health benefits. You also tend to make friends in the cycling community. It is a refreshing feeling when you are cycling and I can completely switch off from my work stress. As a college student, I felt that Quepem was far to cycle but now almost every day I cycle for more than 50 kilometres.” 

Fintan Dourado from Margao finds cycling addictive. He is out every morning cycling till around 8.15 am and is ready to take on a day of hard work. He started cycling at the age of 52 years and encourages cycling enthusiasts to take on the sport regardless of their age. “I was highly motivated by a cyclist that I met at one of the events who was 60 years old and had completed the cycling tour from Goa to Kanyakumari. He was a role model to me and made me realise that there is no age limit for cycling,” says Fintan.

He began cycling in 2018 and during Covid-19 pandemic, he was excessively cycling which trained him for the 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometers Super Randonneur. “Initially I was an ultra-runner and I participated in marathons like the TATA Ultra Marathon in 2019 in Lonavala. I shifted from running to cycling as running can damage the knees while cycling balances the body weight. Cycling has also health benefits which I realised after cycling every day. It builds immunity as earlier I used to get minor health problems but now I cycle in the monsoons that too in the rains and I don’t fall sick. I complete almost 50 kilometres every day,” says Fintan.

The beauty of cycling is that you can select any route that you want and Fintan has covered the whole of South Goa through his morning rides. “It good to be out in the morning as it is quieter and there is less pollution and the temperature is also cool. Your health improves and you get to enjoy nature and make new friends as you meet a lot of people while cycling,” he adds.

As June 3 is World Bicycle Day, it makes for a lovely day to head to the outdoors riding a bicycle today.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar