Nagpur: Cycling in the city is steadily moving away from just being a fitness focussed activity to becoming more of a vibrant community which fosters friendships, support system and sharing of experiences.
Nikhil Bajoria, who has been cycling for almost five years now, says the sport itself thrives on having multiple people. “It’s not a solo thing. You always have a group which goes on short or long rides. Even if it’s a short ride, you end up spending at least an hour daily with fellow riders. And over a period of time, acquaintances become friends,” said Bajoria.
Khusroo Poacha, who started cycling last year, feels that in cycling there is no rivalry. “In other sports or activity, there is a slight tendency to compete with the person next to you. But here, when I started cycling from beginners’ level, my seniors encouraged and motivated me,” he added.
Dr Amit Samarth, an internationally renowned cyclist, said the sport is unique. “I have observed other sports like running, but the camraderie among cyclists is a global phenomenon. If two cyclists cross each other on the road, they will wave even if they are strangers. That’s a universal norm and sets the tone for a healthy ecosystem. You will never see two bikers or car drivers doing the same,” said Dr Samarth.
“Almost all cyclists in Nagpur are into the sport for a ‘non-competitive’ purpose. This further encourages the friendship network,” he added.
Dr Rajendra Rai said cycling is like going down memory lane. “We take breaks at some dhabha on the highway, and the discussion which happens afterwards is similar to when we were kids. There’s laughter, conversation on literally anything and a support system for any member who is feeling down. My cycling group includes people from a variety of professions. Through cycling I now have this amazing group which is like a family,” said Dr Rai.
Cycling has also brought out this medical practitioner’s creative side. “Everyday I chronicle our ride in my poetic style and put it in our Whatsapp group. This way even those who were absent can take a mental ride along that route,” said Dr Rai who has authored Shayari.
Aniruddha Raich, a well known cyclist who also owns the store Ncyclopedia, said the cost of gearing up for a ride can vary according to different levels. “There are quite a few options available according to the level of the rider, the type of bike (all terrain, handle design etc) and then local made or imported,” said Raich.
So, while a beginner can be set up in a budget of around Rs 20,000 with a very decent cycle and equipment, the upper limit is in lakhs. “Prices are steadily increasing. In the last one year alone there has been a 25% increase in price and I forsee further hikes in the near future,” added Raich.
Poacha wraps it up by citing an example of how the cycling community in Nagpur has turned into a melting pot of friendship. “If your cycle gets punctured on the highway and there’s another group coming from the opposite side, it’s guaranteed that they will stop. No one will move till your issue is resolved,” said Poacha.