When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking," once said Arthur Conan Doyle.
While cycling can be nostalgic for some people, for others it can be purely liberating. As a professional sport, cycling in India is still in its infancy and needs a tremendous amount of support to reach international standards. Though there is huge untapped potential, there are many impediments for cycling to be actually considered a serious hobby. The reasons being lack of infrastructure and resources.
Until very recently, riding a bicycle was proletariat. With developments in modern bicycle technology, the sport has not only become popular but health and environmental factors are augmenting to its alternative image in the minds of urbanites. Leisure riders are dotting the outskirts of cities every weekend and the community-racing scene is rapidly growing in the country.
Although there are issues related to separate bicycle lanes in Bangalore, it has certainly not deterred the spirits of cycling enthusiasts from exploring mountain trails and country tracks surrounding the city.
ProCycle, an organisation headquartered in Indiranagar, is constantly reinventing ways to create awareness about the sport. Its managing director Vikram Limsay is not only a serial entrepreneur but an avid sports enthusiast as well. Elaborating about his journey, Vikram says: “All my ventures revolve around sports. I find that there is a lot to learn from it and this can be applied in our day-to-day lives.” In one of his earlier ventures, Vikram came across Nilesh Dhumal, a passionate cyclist for over two decades now. Nilesh is regarded as one of the best technicians in the cycling industry and was crowned the first national 4X (four cross) champion at the Union Cycliste Internationale event recently. “Nilesh's passion is infectious and hence was made the COO of the venture,” Vikram said.
Not only are people following competitive racing, they are also participating in several amateur races across the country. Buying a bike that fits you correctly is the key to enjoying cycling for recreation, health or commuting. But, sadly the way bikes are sold in India is a far cry from what happens globally. Not choosing the right bike, not riding them correctly or not maintaining your bike can lead to injuries and accidents.
"We follow a philosophy of knowledge-based consultative selling. Everyone is proficient about cycling and you know you are in safe hands," added Vikram. Ignatius (aka Iggy) is a doctor for cycles. Give him a problem and a wrench, and trust him to make the correct diagnosis and cure your cycle. His tough ethnic Chinese demeanour belies an almost childlike passion to be with cycles. He was a roadie who transitioned to a mountain biker and now routinely takes part in national and international championships.
Ajay, a road racing champion will tell you the nuances of how to get the correct body posture while riding. He admits, “I know nothing other than cycling. That is what I want to do all my life.” Dedicated to the sport, he is a winner of prestigious road races in Maharashtra and has taken part in various national championships across the country.
ProCycle does not leave any stone unturned when it comes to cycling. They publish a magazine called Crank and have their own racing teams who participate in various racing disciplines. They also had four podium finishes in the first six months of their genesis. “Cycling deserves its own space in the Indian sporting arena. We seek to provide just that. We have something for everyone and cover everything from the latest bicycling trends and the hottest gear to cycling-related transportation policies which will have an impact on the urban landscape. We hope to be a catalyst for all things velo-related, which are pint sized bikes" said magazine editor Rahul Thomas.
Things have come a long way from an era when there was one genre of cycles that catered to everybody. Today, the bike technology has advanced to the next-level with frames made of state-of-art alloys and carbon composites into a variety of road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids and foldies (folding bicycles). Technology begins right from the way you mount the bike to the way you switch gears. “Looking at how Indian customers were, we decided to set up our venture to provide them with the absolute best,” said Nilesh.
“It hasn't been an easy journey. We routinely conduct events and drives to promote cycling at various corporate offices and other places in the city. Our objective is to create awareness that blends in with the green initiative of corporates ,” added Nilesh. “More awareness will also prompt the government to establish separate lanes and develop related infrastructure," he added.