Bhubaneswar: Cycling is more than an exercise or sport; it’s a passion, a way of life for enthusiasts. On World Bicycle Day, Odisha Bytes speaks to some diehard cyclists who are “addicted to balancing life” on two wheels.
“Cycling is our serious hobby,” said Ajay Kumar Nanda (32), secretary of Bhubaneswar Cycling And Adventure Club — a group of cyclists who ride internationally just for the love of it.
“As a child, one learns to cycle during playtime. But eventually as we grow up, it is replaced with easier and less strenuous modes of transport like cars and motorbikes. Commuting on a cycle can be more beneficial and economical. It is also the easiest form of exercise that we can enjoy in the open,” Ajay added.
Riding For a Cause
One can only ride long distances if they practice for long hours. And so it is with BCAC members who cycle for 50 to 100 km on weekends. The continuous habit of cycling gives them the strength to ride across national borders. They have cycled from Bhubaneswar to Bhutan, Vietnam, Kathmandu, Manali and Sri Lanka. The idea behind crossing such distances is to unite under the umbrella of brotherhood since a group that rides together stays together. Also, once enjoying your hobby gets you to explore places, it becomes fun.
Age No Bar For Cycling
Yes, children love cycling, but Pihu, a 6-year-old, and the youngest member of BCAC is making records out of her hobby. The little cyclist holds an Indian record of pedalling 66 km on a bicycle in a single day. “She wants to create a Guinness World record someday,” said Gopal Sahu, her father and an avid cyclist himself. “We have taken this hobby a bit seriously, it’s our lifestyle now,” added Gopal, who commutes to office on a bicycle while Pihu insists she be allowed to go to school on her cycle!
Her father, who has seen Pihu riding alongside him since the age of three, hopes that the state will organise better lanes so that his daughter and others like her can maintain this lifestyle.
A Spiritual Therapy
“Cycling has changed me as a person, it’s my spiritual therapy,” says Sipra Hota (35), the first Odia lady to ride 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km in a calendar year. “There is more to cycling than physical fitness, it requires mental will and determination,” said Sipra, who is the only female member of the club.
Her hobby for cycling gives her strength in other spheres of life as well. “I have learnt to overcome difficulties of life as cycling proves that no matter the challenges, you can paddle through the toughest slopes of your life,” she remarked, recalling the time she rode day and night from Manali to Leh while menstruating.
These stories tell us how gender and age are no barriers for an individual from living a hobby when one is serious enough about it.