"When in doubt, pedal it out is what we believe in," said Manmeet Khurana, a resident of Seawoods Estates adding, "After I met with an accident, I was advised not to take up running as that would cause damage to the knees. I took up cycling and it turned out to be the best option."
Khurana is part of a group of around seven enthusiastic cyclists in the society. Last Sunday they carried out a joint 62-km, trans harbour ride from their society to Uran and back. For most of the group it was the first time and thus a memorable experience in many ways.
Sandeep Bangia, another resident, chalked out this route as he knows it to be an interesting one. "There are a lot of interesting sites along the way and we had to traverse through different kinds of terrains. We passed salt pans, refineries and got to see fisherfolk from whom the whole city gets its supply of fish. Riding on flyovers was an adventure as the incline made it challenging to continue. The roads were bumpy and rocky and at the JNPT stretch we were among huge trucks. We also took a ferry ride," explained Bangia who is also a marathon runner.
"The idea is to keep fit and enjoy while you are at it and since cycling is a fast sport, there is no dearth of excitement. Last week's ride was not easy as not all the roads were well laid. It was sweltering hot but as group activities are, it was a lot fun," said Khurana who was a participant in the cyclathon that took place last December at BKC.
What he was most elated about was his 12-year-old son Humraaz Khurana joining the group when he heard about papa's joy rides everyday. "I used to share my experiences that captivated him and he instantly asked to join our regular rides. He also accompanied us in a 62-km run and I was surprised at his endurance," he added.
The only woman member of the group, Kavita Talib who is an architect, was undeterred even after suffering a bad fall on the way. "I see cycling as a sport that gives us a chance to get back to our childhood selves. Also, it can be taken up by anyone and one does not have to rely on anyone to learn it. The fact that you get to go to a new place everyday, explore the city, makes it a delightful indulgence," said Talib who started cycling regularly since last September.
While the long ride last Sunday was a first, the group carries out regular rides in the city. "We frequent the Palm Beach Road, Parsik Hill, Kharghar Hill, among others. I like to beat my own record and get better. My aim now is to become adept in this and try out mountain biking," she said.
The group plans to carry out more rides to places like Khopoli and Nere. While they are satisfied with their daily drives, they feel it would be better if the sport is given more importance in the city. "On my visit to Amsterdam I was happily surprised to see that not only are their painted tracks on roads that are reserved for cyclists but they are even respected more than other vehicle owners. Motorists are disciplined and respectful toward cyclists and pedestrians and that is altogether missing here," said Khurana ruefully.
While expecting a change, the group members are focusing on creating an identity for themselves, participating in cycling events, motivating more people to start pedaling for health and happiness.