Cycling enthusiasts from Noida and Ghaziabad set out for Etawah on Monday from GIP Mall in Sector 38 on a three-day event -- Challenge 250 -- organised by the Uttar Pradesh government. The event, in which over 150 cyclists will participate in various competitions, will mark the inauguration of the 197-kilometre Etawah-Agra cycle highway.
Twenty members of Indirapuram Cycling Club, Ghaziabad, were selected for the event. They were shortlisted from over 500 applicants from the country and abroad.
“We have participants from 13 states and one union territory taking part in the event apart from 10 participants from the US, Sweden, Germany and Bangladesh,” Nitin Yadav, a veteran cyclist and coordinator of the event, said.
He said the highest prize is ₹5 lakh and participants have been selected after a rigorous screening process.
“Even foreign nationals had to go through the screening to get selected after we advertised the event in their countries too. Major chunk of the participants are from Delhi-NCR,” Yadav said.
As many as 40 participants are women.
“We are very excited to be on the trip and trained hard to win the spot. We are excited to see the countryside on this 197-kilometre journey,” Maggan Benson from Sweden said.
The participants were ferried from Noida in buses and a separate vehicle was used to bring their cycles. They will spend Friday night at Etawah, and on Saturday morning, the competition will be flagged off from Lion Safari in Etawah.
“The cycle track has been constructed through various routes to add a tourism experience for the riders, hence adding a few extra kilometres. The distance between Etawah and Agra is only 155 kilometres,” Yadav said.
According Amit Upadhyay -- the founder of Indirapuram Cycling Club -- each cyclist has a cycling history that was screened during the selection process.
“We go for several brevet rides that are cycle marathons 200 to 400 kilometres-long. We keep a record of these rides on the basis of which the selection was done,” Upadhyay said.
The members of the club started training after they got to know about the event a month ago.
“Generally on weekdays, we pedal 30 to 40 kilometres while on weekends we ride 80 to 100 kilometres. After we started training, we pushed our limits and tried to cover the same distance in a lesser duration,” Pankaj Rai, another member of the club and a resident of Indirapuram, said.
All members selected for the challenge are professionals from the IT, sales or retail sectors.