What is it like to pedal 80 km from Churchgate to Vasai? If the very thought of it makes you huff and puff, meet 62-year-old Surender Singh. The retired hospitality department employee pedalled across the city for 6 hours and thought of it as “pure bliss”. “I was the second person to complete the ride,” he says proudly. It wasn’t a race, just a bunch of people from different walks of life doing what they love—cycling.
Mumbai’s love affair with the bicycle is changing. We started out with Mumbai darshan-style tours of scenic sights; we’ve done group rides at sunrise, moonrise, by the beach and along green trails. New tours now take in longer distances, combine ecological missions and go on story-telling tours. There’s even one for the hearing-impaired to find similar company.
With April marking the tail end of the cycling season, just before the puddles, potholes and muck get you down, strap on your helmets for these events.
Seed bomb your cycling trail
What: Seed Bombing cycle ride
Where: Goregaon entrance to Aarey Colony
When: April 22, 7 am
Cost: Rs 750 per person
Grab some seed bombs, get on your bike and ride through Aarey Milk Colony. Getting a workout, taking in the environment and ensuring the area is greener in the future.
“Aarey lures cyclists because of its clean air, boulevard of shade-providing trees and smooth, winding roads says Sharad Shah, 30, who runs the travel company Carvan. He collaborated with his wife, Priyanka who runs iKheti, an urban farming company, to organise a fun cycling event on April 22.
The ride will start off with getting your hands dirty. “We are going to teach the participants to make seed bombs first. These are usually mud balls filled with seeds of plants like papaya and drumsticks which are easy to grow,” says Priyanka.
The next step is scouting for spots to shoot your seed bombs. “It will be fun to ride around Aarey Colony looking for a favourite spot, preferably near a water source, so plants can grow,” she adds.
Ronak Dedia, 31, a businessman and avid cyclist has registered for the ride. “I love cycling and I thought it might be a great way to know that I have contributed to the greenery in Aarey Colony, especially after it has been under the threat of losing its trees to urbanisation.”
Pedalling Pro Tip: Enjoy your ride by keeping the noise levels down and surroundings clean.
Ride with the story tellers
What: The Kimayagar of Bombay - Story Telling on a Midnight Cycle Tour
Where: Tour leaves from Kailash Parbat Hotel, Colaba
When: April 22, 10 pm to 1 am
Cost: Rs 799 per person
‘In the early 1800’s, a young Marwari boy comes to Bombay, then a little town under the British Raj, with dreams in his eyes. He goes on to become a wealthy man and is soon called ‘Kimayagar’, or magician, who can make money out of anything…’
That’s how Priyank Desmukh, 29, starts off as he pedals through the winding roads in Fort, leading a group of cyclists.
Travel company, The Legend of Bombay Bards (TLBB) hold regular story-telling-on-a-cycle sessions at night in Mumbai. Desmukh, his wife Priyanka, 29 and their friend Yogesh Chande, 29, hold corporate jobs but like to think of themselves as story-tellers and travel enthusiasts by night.
They launched TLBB this month. “We have lived in Mumbai all our lives and have come across intriguing stories of the people who helped make Mumbai the city it is today,” says Priyank. TLBB sources from history books and shares those tales so pedallers see the city in a different light.
At their first session earlier this month, cyclists aged 16 to 55 attended. They rode across south Mumbai. “Everyone let out ‘Oh’s and ‘Wow’s when they heard a piece of interesting information,” says Anuradha Rao, 43, a relocation specialist who participated. “The ride was like an unravelling story and had an air of mystery to it, as if we were being let into some safely-guarded secret”
Pedalling Pro Tip: Stay focused on the street but also keep your ears cocked for snippets of information about the tour for an after-ride quiz that can win you gifts.
Test your limits
What: Pedalpower Sunday Ride
Where: Bharat Cycle Headquarters, Bhabola Naka, Vasai
When: April 22, 6.30 am
Cost: Rs 500 for renting a cycle
Jyotin Upadhyay, 62, last rode a cycle in 1972. But six months ago, the retired administrative employee bought a bicycle and started riding around Vasai. Last week he managed 76 kms with considerable ease. “When I heard about the Churchgate to Vasai Endurance Ride, I took it up as a challenge,” he says. “I’ve been mulling riding up to Surat which is 240 kms, so I thought of starting off with this,” he says.
The April 9 ride was organised by a Vasai cycle store that organises group cycling events every weekend. “In a big group, cycling becomes more than just an exercise,” says Ajay Singh Malik, 32, owner of the store. “It’s a community event, where people bond and enjoy themselves.”
Malik plans to hold one long-distance Endurance Ride every month. Each event has a back-up vehicle with a doctor tailing the participants and a compulsory break every 20 kms, with refreshments.
Pedalling Pro Tip: Get a geared bike because pedalling up flyovers can be tricky.
For the hearing-impaired
What: Midnight cycle ride for the deaf
Where: Colaba to Worli, Meeting at Regal Theatre
When: April 22, 11 pm to 5 am.
Contact: 99672-25223 (Whatsapp Only)
Cost: Rs 500 per person
For the hearing-impaired, Yuva Association of the Deaf (YAD) Mumbai is organising a night ride from Colaba to Worli, for the first time.
“There have been so many cycling events, it only seemed fair that we organised one for those who are deaf (a term that the organisation prefers to use) and did not want to miss out whizzing through city streets,” says Yandesh Maladkar, a member of YAD. “We needed to bust myths about deaf people and let the city know that those who cannot hear can be safe riders with good observations skills and swift reflexes.”
The six-hour event will start at Colaba Causeway and will cover the Gateway of India, Marine Drive and Haji Ali, concluding at Worli Seaface. Graphic designer Rushabh Bhansali, 27, who is part of the team of cyclists says he’s “looking forward to meeting people who share an interest in cycling and striking up new friendships”.
Pedalling Pro Tip: It’s rude to leave the group midway, so be sure you are in for the whole trip.