The history of cycling in India dates back to 1938. The cycle was initially used as a means of transport. However, in the past few years it is increasingly being used for recreational purposes. In recent years, cycling as a sport has gained momentum in India, with established cycling clubs all over the country.
India has started participating in Randonneuring events. In this event, cyclists attempt to cover a course of 200km or more (it extends up to 1000Km), within specified time limits. Audax India Randonneurs (AIR) is the all-India organisation of randonneurs.
Health Benefits of Cycling
Regular exercise is essential for good health and cycling can be described as one of the best ways to stay healthy, as it exercises every muscle of one’s body. Some of the benefits of cycling are:
- It improves cardiovascular fitness and keeps the heart healthy, decreasing the chances of coronary heart diseases.
- It helps in toning the muscles. Even those with joint problems will benefit from cycling as it is a low impact mode of exercise and keeps one mobile and active.
- Research shows that cycling increases the lifespan of a human being.
- Cycling stimulates the brain. Increase in the intake of oxygen while cycling means more nutrients for the grey matter.
- Cycling eats up calories, maintains the waistline, builds stamina, reduces stress and improves cognitive abilities like coordination.
The list of benefits is endless and it truly is an invigorating and liberating experience.
Cycling Tips for Beginners
There is no age restriction and cycling can be enjoyed by people of all age groups and from all walks of life. The first step should be the selection of the right bike. Here are a few tips on choosing the right cycle:
- The very first consideration should be the course that one will ride on. Road bikes are suitable for pavements, while mountain bikes for dirt trials. Hybrid bikes are ideal for both pavements, as well as dirt trials.
- Bikes are available in a variety of frame sizes. It is important that the bike should be custom made to fit you.
- Another simple way to discover the right bike is to take a test ride.
- Safety gear is certainly a must for a cycling enthusiast. Helmets, padded gloves and padded shorts are a few must-have accessories.
- While choosing a bike for a child, one must keep in mind that for them it is the wheel size and not the frame size, which is taken into consideration. The right bike would be where the child is able to comfortably climb the bike and stand astride.
One must remember, especially beginners and those who take up cycling after a long break, that cycling is a recreational sport and helps to stay fit. Increase cycling gradually and do not try to overreach in a short span of time. The goal should be 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity for adults and 1 hour of the same for children.
Cycling into a Greener Future
Cycling in India indeed has a very bright future. With as many as cycling clubs all over India, and many communities like The Cycling Bug, Bicycle Meetup Groups etc on the social network, cycling is fast becoming a way of life for many in the urban areas. On November 17, 2013, a weekly event called the Rahgiri Day was introduced, where the citizens were given the opportunity to reclaim the streets and the city, connect with the community, and take the option of walking or cycling towards a healthier way of life. Apart from reclaiming the streets for health-related activities like aerobics, Zumba, yoga, walking, etc., cycling tracks are also created for enthusiasts.
As one sits in the comforts of a car in the city and looks out of the window, one can see a cyclist every now and then, trudging the way through the traffic jams. These cyclists are leading India to a green future by leaving behind lesser carbon footprints, saving non-renewable sources of energy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and last but not the least, in most cases saving time, as traffic jams do not hinder cycles as much as vehicles. It is time for us to join the cycling brigade.
It’s time for a better tomorrow.