When I wrote my last blog post about Salman Khan…I received fair share of brick bats and criticism from his fans..!! Bhai ke bare mein aise kaise bol diya….!!
Anyway that’s past….. Now today I am going to blog about a feel good subject and that’s Cycling or Biking.
Whether we should call it cycling or biking that’s another topic to blog on.The cool colloquial is bike or biking. It’s taken from the western world. Quintessentially “biking” is a general term that is used casually and “cycling” is generally used by serious cyclist.
Here in India, if you tell someone that you have bought a bike, inadvertently he will ask “Bro Harley le li kya?”. Then the clarification starts!! Nahin bro bicycle li hai…!! and further if you disclose the price of your bike (i.e. bicycle), he is sure to reply ” Yaar itne mein toh motorcycle aa jaati”.
For us in India, in our growing days, we majorly saw two brands, Atlas and Hero. I bought a HERO Ranger during my school days. (Don’t know how many of you have heard of it). Now a days, for a layman Firefox is considered to be the best cycle brand until he decides to dig a bit deeper. I also thought the same. It’s not our fault. The cycling culture is virtually non-existent in India. The amount of respect cyclist gets on Indian roads vouch for that. A cyclist is considered nothing more than an obstruction on the beautiful road for he slows down your SUV’s.
This blog is essentially about my experience on initial days in the cycling world. The intention is to share experiences about cycling and to motivate friends to take up the sport. People who are already into cycling might find it a bit monotonous.
So how did it all start? A friend started posting his cycling pics on his facebook wall and from there I got my first motivation. Without wasting time, I buzzed him and we spoke over phone and viola in few days I landed straight at ” The Bike Shop, Yusuf Sarai.” on his recommendation. Not only did I buy a bike for myself, bought a couple more for my wifey and kid too.
Can’t say that I had a perfect buying experience…. But I was an absolute novice so took the advice of the shop owner ( who himself is a cyclist) and opted for a rigid fork Scott Sportster Tour ( Limited Edition) HYBRID bike for myself.
After I bought my bike, I started riding small distances. Once I got a hang of it.. I decided to try my luck on a longish solo ride.
Where else I could have chosen other than “mecca” of Delhi Cyclists ” INDIA GATE“. My First ride went smooth. Got a bit more confident. Called my friend Harpreet and he added me in DEC ( Delhi Elite Cylists) whatsapp group.
Now that was a game changer. Never ever I thought that there can be so much passion for cycling. Every day the group plans a ride. Details are shared on Facebook and Whatsapp about the location.Emphasis is to discover various places in and around Delhi and ride with fervour the next morning.
My first ride with the group was to Peddlers Village in Gurgaon.
Unfortunately, my friend Harry who inducted me in the group met with an accident the very same day. He was out of action for few months. But I continued riding with the group and was embraced with open arms in the group. Forged a few new friendships too.They are a bunch of amazing people. Never knew cycling is such a technical sport until i started riding with them
Now what a 1000 kms of cycling did to me….
I saw sunrises after a long time…:). Felt more nimble and agile.Energy levels remained high throughout the day. I found it meditative too. You kind of go into trance once you get into the rhythm.
Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level.
And believe me cycling in gymnasium is not the solution. You can never go to gym and cycle 30 kms on a stationary bike.
Most importantly and interestingly, you discover new places that you never knew existed in your own city which can never be possible riding a stationary bike! For example this place is 5 kms from my house called Sanjay Van.
Not to mention healthy snacking on the way ,though, sometime we do indulge in gastronomical delights.
I have had number of queries from my friends/relatives about cycling . But sadly not enough have put their plan in action. I hope that through my blog I am able to motivate them enough to buy a bike and start riding!
Having said that,it’s always advisable to mix up cycling with other physical activities like running, playing a sport etc.
Idea is to promote cycling to a level where government is forced to have a cycling policy which ensures equal respect for cyclist on the roads.May be few dedicated cycling tracks can be planned in the city too.
A dedicated cycling Autobahn or highway , 69 km long has been opened partially in Germany. Lot of western countries have dedicated cycling corridors. We have a long way to go there but there has to be a start….
A bit of gyaan about cycle purchase.
Now before you buy a car, you test drive a number of them, similarly before you buy a bike, it is recommended that you try out a few bike after taking advise from the shop owners and then decide. Be shameless. Try as many shops as you want to and try as many bikes as you can. Reach a conclusion after a through research.( Please don’t buy your bike online without trying it out.) Online purchases are good for accessories.
A very basic info on types of bikes that are available in the market.
Broadly there are three kind of bikes that are available
- MTB ( Mountain Terrain Bike)
2. Hybrid Bike
They are then further classified on their tyre sizes/ frame sizes and frame geometry.
Generally people prefer MTB as their first bike. Advantages being that you can do a bit of off roading . They look very imposing. However there is a bit of extra effort involved for city riding. Boon is that they are now available with lock out suspensions…makes them very desirable even on flat surfaces.
Hybrids are prefered for city commuting. Less rolling resistance.Less effort. Sleeker tyres.
Roadies are generally bought when you upgrade from either MTB or Hybrid.When you are looking to up your average speeds.
There are folding bikes available too which I believe that they are allowed to be taken in Delhi Metro!
There are few shops i would advise you to go to are Durga Cycles, The Bike Shop, Cyclofit, Peddle up studio, Track & Trail and Decathalon.
Major Brands you can consider are Scott, Trek, Ghost, BTwin, Firefox etc.
Once you are through with your bike purchase there is sea of accessories that are available in market/online. Some are essential and some are not. For starters, you should invest in a good helmet. Lights are essential if you are riding early morning or in nights. It’s always better if you have rear red light on blinker mode all the time. Good quality padded cycling shorts are a must too.A bottle cage and a bottle is a must have accessory.Cycling gloves and shades help too. A speedometer is optional. Strava ( a mobile app) can do most of your tracking, be it speed, distance or elevation.
You could set riding targets for yourself and then accordingly gift yourself well deserved accessories. Don’t buy everything in one go.
You can also ping me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any query. If I am unable to answer, I am sure someone in DEC will come to your rescue. You can also directly post your query on DEC Facebook page for wider audience. It has crossed 10,000 members recently.
It is always recommended to ride in a group. You will always feel safe and secure. Your average speed will always be higher. You will discover new places. And most of all you will get inspired.So my suggestion is to look out for a group near by and try riding with them.
If you are still unable to find a group, then DEC is always there, you are more than welcome to ride alongside us. It has riding members from almost every corner of Delhi.
Can’t end this blog without thanking some amazing people of DEC for inspiring me. Harpreet Madan, Umesh Ghai, Mayank Mago, Saurabh Sethi, Sushil Hooda, Arya Ashok Kumar, Madhav Dubey, Gaurav Sharma to name a few. And of course special mention of a regular female rider Ms. Gurleen Kaur.
A note of caution: Join this group only if your phone is capable of handling over 1000 whatsapp messages/pictures per day!! :-). I just transferred about 7000 DEC pics on my PC!!
I hope to see you on bike soon!!
I am sharing few collages of our rides together. Hope you enjoy them!
Request DEC members and others to share the blog post as much as you can… Even if a single person gets on the saddle after reading this, then it’s all worth the effort.