Monday, February 2, 2015

5 Reasons why cycling will get more mainstream in India


For a developing country like India, cycles are still commonly used in villages and small towns. While it is a means of commute there, our cities and urban areas have started adapting to cycles in a different way. We are starting to embrace the bicycle more as a lifestyle than just means of commute. And we trust that this change is here to stay and cycling will only become more mainstream in the coming years.

1. More and more Indians have taken up competitive cycling especially at a later stage

Image Courtesy: Hyderabad Racing League
Several Indians are now serious about competitive cycling. Some of these are active trekkers and mountaineers, while some are corporate employees who train in the comforts of weekends. In fact several competitive cyclists are those that have embraced the sport at a later stage in life.

In fact, currently several professional cycling teams such as The Specialized KYNKYNY Cycling Team have started being formed. Another huge inspiration is Anu Vaidyanathan, India's first woman to have completed an Ironman. She is also the only Asian (male or female) to compete and finish an Ultraman. 

In our very own Hyderabad, we have seen several competitive cyclists including Raman Garimella, an engineer who quit his IT job to take up professional cycling. He finished in the top 10 in the National Road Racing Championships in 2013 before moving to Germany to pursue his interests along with pursuing a masters degree in sports.

Dr. Vignan quit practising medicine in order to train to become an elite Ironman triathlete. He is representing Telangana in the ongoing National Games in Kerala. As of 2015, he has won Hyderabad, Thonnur and Pune Triathlon. He aspires to compete as an elite in Ironman 70.3 starting this year. 

2. The number of triathlons and brevets are on the rise

Image Courtesy: Hyderabad Brevets
The last few years have seen a steep rise in the number city-based races, brevets and triathlons. In 2010, brevets were organized only in 2 cities in India and by 2013, the same grew to a whopping 8 cities (which also includes Hyderabad). India is also ranked 14th worldwide in official brevet mileage. Randonneuring is here to stay and across the country, there have been some really inspiring randonneurs.

There is also a visible increase in the number of triathlons and bicycle races. Hyderabad itself has a Hyderabad Triathlon and the Hyderabad Racing League, which have been active in recent times.

3. Celebrities have embraced bicycles

Image Courtesy: www.bollywoodmantra.com
Recently, in an interview well known South Indian actor Sarath Kumar spoke about his love for cycling for close to 3 whole minutes. He is an avid cyclist and enjoys the sport not just for fitness, but has also ventured into competitive cycling.

Famous actor Vikram, also admits to have embraced cycling especially to lose weight as part of his preparation for the role in his recent movie, I.

In Bollywood’s scheme of fitness, actor Siddharth Malhotra (of Student of the Year fame) has also been spotted cycling on busy streets of Mumbai. And Bollywood’s poster boy for a muscular physique, Salman Khan has constantly supported cycling and has also been spotted several times commuting on his bicycle!

4. Our roads have bike lanes!

Image Courtesy: bangalore.citizenmatters.in
Officially, the municipal corporations have started recognizing the need for dedicated cycling lanes. In a country where most cities have clogged roads, more bicycles will in fact ensure lesser traffic!

This started with Bangalore introducing a bicycle lane in Jayanagar. Though it was not exactly a complete success, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport has planned 3 more dedicated cycling corridors. There is a plan to include a 22km cycle lane in Gurgaon as well.

Hyderabad also has dedicated bicycling lanes in Gachibowli along with the option of renting bicycles. This trend is bound to increase the number of people opting to commute by bicycles more regularly.

5. Because, cycling is the new golf

Image Courtesy: www.caleidoscope.in
There have been recent reports that cycling is replacing golf as the networking sport in America. For a country like India, where golf never caught on, cycling definitely is a sought after sport for networking. In fact this sport can be easily embraced by corporations to better build teams and need not necessarily be competitive as golf thereby helping build better working relationships. In golf you are necessarily competing against each other, whereas in cycling, a group enhances the energy levels. 

In the current culture and lifestyle where exercise is external to everyday work, this is a fun chance to merge the two.


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