BENGALURU: Palace Road: Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda, during a press conference in the city, took on the challenge of practising for and participating in a bicycling event in near future.
At the launch meet of, he said, “The most avid cyclist in Bollywood is Salman Khan. He rides everywhere. Cycling gives you wings. It’s a sporty lifestyle more people can adopt. I would need more spare tyres and practice. I don’t want to fall and make a mockery of myself,” he said, giggling.
He unvieled the rider jersey for the eighth edition. “It is a very difficult challenge. To finish the race is in itself a prize,” the polo enthusiast said.
The 109 riders from across the globe will flag off from Palace Road at 6.30 am on Wednesday. Over the next eight days, participants will ride around 87 km through three sanctuaries -- Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiris and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. With a mix of challenging climbs and flat courses, it is set to test the endurance and temperament.
Venky Rajgopal, CMD Indian Terrain Fashions, is one of around 30 participants from Bengaluru. He said, “I enrolled for the ride before I knew we would sponsor it. Cycling is a cool lifestyle activity.”
Several are first-timers, though not all of them are new to riding challenges. Brigadier Mohan, a 56-year-old Indian army doctor, says, “The most memorable moment in my life was when I became Super Randonneur though many youngsters couldn’t complete the series.”
Hari Ramachandran, a chief innovation officer in a lighting company in Chennai, feels cycling is a good way to network with like-minded people. “It is also the best travel option -- faster and more efficient than a car.”
Joycetan, a 58-year-old financier in Singapore, believes that cycling is the best way to explore nature. She heard about the tour from a Bengalurean friend two years ago and is participating this year. She plans to take it easy. “The joy of competing with youngsters makes me forget my age. Cycling brings me to close to nature.”
Some took to cycling due to health concerns. Gangadhar Balija, a 33-year-old IT professional in Bengaluru, started cycling on his doctor’s advice to beat hypertension. “I don’t get time to exercise. So, I started cycling to work. I lost 8 kg in the first six months. Cycling also reduces carbon footprint.”
Kirthanya Krishnamurthy, a psychoanalyst from Chennai, started cycling to keep fit. “I feel fresh after cycling; it’s like meditation.” She and her cyclist friends delivered food and other supplies during the flood. “The water was 50 feet high. What is a sport was a lifeline in Chennai.”