The weather was chilly, rather very harsh. Mercury had dipped as low as 10 degrees on Sunday. The region justified its nick name — mini-Kashmir. Though cloud breaths were still visible, enthusiasts donned mufflers and woollens trying to protect themselves and fight the cold weather.
But that couldn’t deter thousands of brave cyclists from pedalling at the inaugural Tour de Polo cycling championship held at the historic Vijaynagar in Sabarkantha district on Sunday. The cycle race was organised to promote the significance of forest and eco-tourism.
Everyone was out there to prove their cycling skills. The race was held in three different categories – Indian cycle races for men (30 km), women (30 km), and for professionals (60 km). It gave a glimpse of the rich heritage and forest cover in the region. The atmosphere was set when the cyclists started pouring-in at the venue — Vijaynagar crossroads. There were men, women and even families.
“The atmosphere is wonderful, an inspiring one. Though the weather is not ideal but it will still be fun. I never had a podium finish as last year in Ahmedabad I stood fourth. This achievement will go a long way, and can push me to go for many such competitions in future,” said Usha Chaudari, a 47-year-old cyclist. She was accompanied by her husband and members of the Indian Cycling Club from Mehsana.
“The success of our Green Cycle Race has given a new dimension to cycling. Henceforth, cycling in India will talk about persevering nature,” said Banchhanidhi Pani, collector of Sabarkantha district.
It wasn’t a smooth race as many cyclists didn’t complete it. In fact, insiders were of the opinion that many locals didn’t even start the race. They left the venue after taking their t-shirts and bib-numbers. A few cyclists bumped into each other when one of them tried to save a puppy. “We are first-timers and hiccups will be there. But we will learn from it and make it better next time,” Pani added.