29 Oct 2020  |   04:04am IST

Senior citizens are also senior cyclists, peddling their way to health

It’s not just the young but senior citizens are now taking up cycling in larger numbers as they seek to improve their immunity and to also discover Goa and understand the place better. Author Savia Veigas and her husband Anup Babani are the senior-most couple in the state to have cycled 100 kms together.
Senior citizens are also senior cyclists, peddling their way to health

Team Café

It is an activity; everyone has done at some point in their lives. Cycling is something that is a source of great joy during ones childhood. Some persist with it all and others take it up later in life. In Goa, there has been a surge in interest in cycling. It is not unusual to see a large number of people of varying ages cycling across the length and breadth of Goa. Cycling is a source of enjoyment and also an exercise.  For some people with a certain psyche it can mean a form of meditation. Increasingly Goans well into their late sixties and even late seventies are cycling as a means of relaxation, discovering Goa and as an opportunity to understand the place and its people better.

Ajit Guglani, a spry 78 has been cycling for four years. A retired Wing Commander who retired in 1992, he has been cycling and has conquered problems like arthritis. He said “When I shifted four years ago, my daughter had already done a lot of adventurous activities. She drove a Royal Enfield 500 cc across the length of India. I came and caught the bug.” He said he started off with 25 km and found it easy and then moved to 50 km and then just kept on cycling. He was cautious and took care to no go over beyond his capacity. He said “I would find alternative roads, go into various villages and it has been great fun.”  

Falls are a given whilst cycling and sometimes accidents too. He was cycling 25 kms out of Margao at some speed.  The truck in front braked and in order to avoid it he slipped. He was taken to the hospital and he laughed said “All I wanted to do was to get back to cycling. It had helped me with my arthritis. In less than six months I was back on my feet after physiotherapy. Cycling was my therapy.”  He has climed the Chareshwar hill which is 350 metres tall. He said “I don’t look at distances < I am interested in exploring new places and it is important to never give up.”

His determination and sense of adventure can be gauged by the fact that when the Vasco to Karwar ride a distance of 185 km was planned, he had decided to cycle just 50 km and return. However when it started, he just kept cycling and he was able to surmount the ghats which he conceded was tough but he kept cycling. On reaching Karwar he tried to enthuse the group to travel another 15 km so as to cover 200 km but everyone stayed put complaining of tiredness.  If that sounded tough, he took up another challenge and cycled 1200 km in a month.  He said “Everyone thought completing 1000 km would be ok but I just kept cycling and completed 1200km.”       

Explaining his mantra for fitness, he said it was important to stay fit in these corona times. He said “It is important to improve immunity. Everyone should do exercise, yoga at home or some exercise outside. Cycling is a complete exercise and it is important to be regular and it would be nice to do it in the morning”.

Savia Veigas and her husband Anup Babani are the oldest couple in the state to have cycled 100 kms together. Anup Babani started cycling four years ago and the 69 year old cyclist cycles everyday over 40-50 km every morning with Savia. It is an activity that takes them three to four hours. It is a physical and spiritual experience for the couple.  They have travelled to Netravali from their residence in Carmona. Anup admits to enjoying going up hills. He said “I have cycled into the hinterlands and when Savia is unable to come along I cycle with my friend to these hills like Khola, Verlim and Chandreshwar to name a few”.   He says cycling has given him the opportunity to take the turns into the gullies and he and Savia now know all the inroads in South Goa.   For Savia cycling has been a great experience for her.  She said “A protected childhood meant I never cycled or went swimming. Sometimes I would escape and indulge myself. Returning to Goa after spending years in Mumbai and cycling occasionally in that city, I decided I wanted to cycle”.

A diabetic, a spinal operation, and cardiac ailments, she decided she had to tackle her health. Savia said “I am a writer and a painter but cycling is pure spirituality and is a source of enquiry into the heart of the state. It is very refreshing, I don’t like the climbs but recently we cycled 100 kms on consecutive Sundays.”   She said it was interesting to see young and old now on the road, running or cycling and the emphasis now being placed on being healthy was very encouraging. She felt it was important to encourage children to go cycling to school. Cycling she said was the perfect activity to get healthy irrespective of age.

She ended by saying they were encouraged by Belinda and Richard Veigas who were from the same village and who were also cyclist. Belinda is featured in the Limca Book of Records as the only woman to have cycled 1200 km three times in a year.

Ajit and Savia emphasized the importance of exercise and its importance as one got older. Age they said was just a number and the road was ahead inviting everyone to step on and to live a life.   







Iddhar Udhar