Feb 21, 2010
I enjoy cycling.
During my childhood, in Kerala, I envied the looks of the shining, well maintained black cycles with dynamo. During school days, we used to have this slow cycling race. However, it was a long time later till I learnt to ride one and hired them by the hour. It was thrilling to move around, do errands and generally, for the first time in life, enjoy moving from one place to the other at one’s own whim without walking. A cycle, with a girl in front, is a much more romantic experience than one behind you on a bike or besides you in a car.
I got myself my own second hand cycle while studying in engineering college. It was a very practical investment in the small town for moving from hostel to college and to just roam around in the evening. I didn’t have to depend on the only other means of transport, the cycle rickshaw. A man, usually in poor health, pulled you on a cycle while you sat behind comfortably, which seemed a little inhuman.
However, the cycle has a very down market status in Mumbai. When I got a job with a short commuting distance, I proposed to travel to office by a shining new bicycle. However, my folks reacted as if I had asked permission for going naked to office.
Things, they are a changing. A Bandra based HR manager of a coffee chain has been commuting daily to his office on a cycle for the last three years. He claims that this 25 minute ride has done more for his productivity than even caffeine. Many working professionals have started consciously commuting to their offices and client sites on a cycle. Not only can they save on fuel, feel carbon neutral and skip the boredom of gym but, more importantly, they can escape traffic jams. Dr. Anant Joshi, a famous orthopedic surgeon comes to the hospital in a foldable cycle. Aparna Roy, the 28 year old brand manager of an international energy drink, cycles from Bandra to Worli thrice a week. It is a sight to watch this backpack-and-laptop toting helmet clad woman in capris negotiating the morning and evening traffic.
A study by the US based Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion indicates that for an average weight person (68 kgs), leisure cycling burns more calories per hour (290 cals) than walking that burns 280 cals and weight training that burns 220 calories. High intensity cycling burns more calories (590 cal) than swimming that burns 510 calories, aerobics that burns 480 calories, and speed walking that burns 460 calories.
Cycling also offers a few advantages over other exercises. It exercises the heart better than walking without the pounding of jogging. According to Dr. Joshi, cycling is also softer on the knees than the treadmill. A bicycle can be used to get to work, perform errands or enjoy the outdoors. Cycling helps reduce stress, increases fitness levels, lowers risk of heart attack and lets you cut that extra flab from the body. It is a low impact activity and one of the safest ways to exercise without risk of over exertion or strain to muscles and joints. It is also easy to park and though it is easy to steal, it is a rare occurrence.
Apart from benefits to yourself, you are also doing the community a favour by not adding to the pollution and by not buying imported petrol. In fact, today, people will not be allowed to drive on Carter road, as local residents are promoting a car free day to cut down on pollution. Today, India’s biggest international cycling event, India Cyclothon was held at Bandra Reclamation. A cycle mall has come up in Pune, with cycles priced between a few thousands to few lakhs.
I am looking forward to disposing my trusted Activa to get a gleaming, new cycle with as much bells and whistles as I can afford.