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Ride the road less taken

A number of cycling groups has mushroomed in Delhi and its suburbs. The author speaks to the members who cycle their way to a healthier life

Avantika Bhuyan  |  New Delhi 

It's 5.30 am on a warm Saturday morning. The city has just begun to wake up. A motley group, which has gathered near Akshardham temple in east Delhi, is pulsating with energy. Part of the club, Cyclesutra, this group is geared up with helmets and gloves to embark on a morning ride to Lodhi Garden via India Gate. A yoga teacher will be awaiting their arrival to teach asanas with breathing and meditation techniques relevant to cyclists. Over the past two years, many such clubs have mushroomed in Delhi and NCR. A few prominent ones are Delhi Club, Gurgaon Fun Riders, and

For the love of the sport

The idea is to get the bicycle out of the garage and explore Delhi's nooks and crannies with like-minded companions. As Gagandeep Singh Bhalla, founder of Gurgaon Fun Riders, puts it, "We are not here to re-invent the wheel, we are keen and inquisitive about new roads and destinations that we have not travelled to or would like to ride to again." Membership to most of these clubs is free.

The routes
It might come as a surprise to many, but Delhi has various cycling tracks crisscrossing its topography. "There is a cycling lane connecting Vikas Marg to ITO, one from Noida to Akshardham. The Master Plan Road 2 and 3 in Noida are popular as well. Most of Lutyen's Delhi is also great for cycling," says Nalin Sinha, founder and convenor of Other tracks include Shyama Prasad Mukherji Marg and the stretch from Ambedkar Nagar terminal to ITO. Cycling enthusiasts in Gurgaon usually cycle from the Biodiversity Park to Qutab Minar. Dum Duma lake and Sultanpur sanctuary are also popular destinations. If you simply want to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city, head to the ridge area in north and south Delhi. The most popular rides usually involve food: heads to Lajpat Nagar for chole bhature, while regularly finds itself in Old Delhi to savour piping hot jalebis and chai. The routes depend on the kind of cycling you have in mind: recreational or fitness-centred.

"There has been an increase in the number of people cycling to work. People are cycling more frequently, whether it is to go the market or to run daily errands," says Sinha.

Fitness mantra
Cycling is all about holistic fitness. It helps you de-stress while keeping the body fit. This low intensity workout tones the calves and thighs while keeping the heart healthy, blood pressure under control and the lungs conditioned. "Anyone can adjust to the sport. And it's a non-contact sport. Delhi has no proper running surfaces so a lot of people suffer from injured knees every time they face hard ground," says Founder Ashish Nagpal. And the best part is that one can explore those parts of the city that can't be navigated in a car such as the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk.

Who's joining?
These groups started out with three to four buddies cycling together every weekend. Today, however, the membership is growing. While and boast of 400 to 500 members, has a whopping 1,200 members. One finds CFOs, CEOS, lawyers, journalists, homemakers, students, and photographers cycling together in camaraderie. "We have members in the age group of 16 to 60. Anyone can join, but there are some safety pointers that everyone must follow. No helmets means no rides, watch your fellow rider, preferably ride in one lane on vacant roads, tail lights and head flickers are a must. The idea is to ride as a responsible friend and as a responsible citizen," concludes Bhalla.

JOIN THE GANG

* Cyclesutra: www.cyclesutra.com
* Delhi Cycling Club: www.delhicycling.org
* Noida Cycling Club: www.facebook.com/groups/cyclothon
* Gurgaon Fun Riders:

First Published: Fri, May 03 2013. 21:37 IST
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