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City groups and tours give cyclists an incentive to get fitter without using health as the motivator

india Updated: Oct 01, 2011 11:17 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times

Sunil Gandhi, an avid cyclist, started Cycling for Foodies nearly 10 months ago on www.cyclists.in, a website for cyclists. It has nearly 65 members today. "I found that if there is incentive, people tend to cycle more. Else, it becomes a chore or exercise,” says Gandhi. “Here, people cycle long distances as they look forward to a reward at the end of their trip.”

The group and its members meet up often to explore the unknown streets and food joints of Mumbai. Anyone can suggest a ride, post it on the group’s wall and invite members to join in. Gandhi says, "More often than not, Mumbai’s best food will be discovered at a small corner." Also, when you cycle, you don't have to worry about parking, one-way streets or traffic jams. This acts as a motivator too.

The group has crossed the length and breadth of Mumbai. Gandhi says, "We have gone to old Irani restaurants serving Brun Maska, and even ridden to Thane to Mamlatdar Misal. That was our longest food ride, about 50 kms to and fro."

Sign up: Anyone who is a member of http://www.cyclists.in/ can join this group.

Health: You have the best of two worlds, good food and staying fit. Gandhi says, "At times, persons do not eat rich food as they put on weight. I love good food and
don't want to put on weight, so I cycle. Also, we do not gorge on food but eat light meals.”

Cycle to Work, a group started by Anil Uchil, began in 2010 to help like-minded people to connect and share their thoughts, ideas, experiences and best practices in
cyclo-commuting. The aim was to make it easier for others to cyclo-commute in the city. The group has over 250 members.

Uchil says, “This is something I've believed in and practiced for a long time. And I’ve found commuting by cycle to be a great idea on various parameters, be it health, the environment, fighting traffic congestion, reaching destinations on time or just having fun. Over the years, I’ve been advocating the cause of cyclo-commuting, and others have shown interest in following suit."

He says that in today’s hectic lifestyle, the most common reason for not exercising is “lack of time”. So it makes perfect sense to cycle to wherever you need to go. Also, with trafficcongested roads, cycling is arguably the fastest and surest way of getting around the city.

Uchil says, “Decades ago, when I first started cyclocommuting, people would think (and some still do!) that it was a crazy idea to cycle around the city. However, when they found that I was usually reaching the same destination faster, they started coming around to my way of thinking!"

Sign up: Anyone can join this group. A separate site will be coming up shortly.

Health: Most people today lead sedentary lifestyles, with hardly any scope for physical exercise, unless they take the trouble to get into a gym. Cycling is an excellent aerobic, cardiovascular exercise.

Reality Reality Tour and Travel started their cycle tours in February this year and have had about 80 takers so far. “It has started quite slowly and during the monsoon, we did very few tours,” says Chris Way of Reality Tours and Travel.

The tour is based in South Mumbai, and goes by the following route: The bicycle ride starts at Regal Cinema early in the morning and they cycle through the back streets of Kala Ghoda and Fort, seeing Mumbai as it first wakes up.

The group then goes past CST station, and stops and sees Crawford Market and goes through Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar market areas, stopping at Mumbadevi Temple and the Cow Shelter. Later, they head down to Marine Drive and cycle along to the end of the promenade. They also cycle to and stop at the fish market at Sassoon Dock. “We have breakfast at a nearby restaurant, and then head to the Gateway of India before returning to Regal Cinema,” says Way.

At the various stopping points, the guide provides historical and contemporary information. There is a second guide at the back of the group to make sure nobody gets lost. Way says, “We wanted to see Mumbai as it woke up, in a healthy, fun and different way.”

They aren’t the only ones. Odati Adventures, a company that specialises in cycle tours, too offers several options around north, south and central Mumbai. These
tours have grown in popularity and focus on the history and culture of Mumbai. Anyone is welcome to join in.

Sign up: Book your tours at Odati by calling 9769679802 or contact Reality Tour and Travel by calling 22833872

Health: You do not have to be physically very fit to join in since the cycling is easy and on flat ground. But it is a healthy way to see the city.

First Published: Oct 01, 2011 11:10 IST