BENGALURU: Struck by poverty, Bylahalli Raghunath Janardan was left to just dream of cycling by his countryside as a child as he could not afford a bicycle.
This Bengalurean is now living his dream at the age of 84, having covered a distance of 3,75,000 km – an average of 53.3 km/day – since he took to riding at the age of 64 to stay fit.
“I was diagnosed as a major epileptic patient when I was 62 years old. I gave up medication despite my family’s compulsion. I would wake up early in the morning when my famiy would be sleeping to go for long walks,” he says.
One day when Janardan spotted his son’s bicycle lying unused, he dusted off the bike and took his first ride and then replaced his morning walks with pedalling long distances.
“At 68, when I felt confident of my stamina and improved health, I took to trekking and would cover 80-110kms with ease. At the age of 72, I started running marathons,” says the Kannadiga.
This retired divisional operating superintendent has completed eight marathons of 42.2km; 42 half-marathons of 21.1 km.
“Despite my age, I do not suffer from any stomach disorder or joint ailments, neither do I catch common cold anymore,” he says.
He also participated in a duathalon in Dubai where he ran for 10km and cycled for 47 km to the finish.
“My wife used to puncture the cycle. She would remove the valve from the tyre rim and throw it away. However, none of her pesky pranks have kept me off cycling. She still tries though,” he says with a smile.
Cycling turned into a passion for reitred Central Bank of India employee Sahasranaman Iyer at the age of 50. Occasionally, he accompanies Janardan. “It started off with me cycling to work during my early days in Pune. We had a group of cycling enthusiasts who covered the entire country on bicycles,” he says.
At 66, he now cycles with other cycling enthusiasts every Sunday.
“I now cycle with fellow Go Green campaigners, a cycling group in the city. We meet up every Sunday and cycle around 50-60 km,” he says.
Prabhakar Rao C M, the founder of Go Green, laments the rate at which global warming has affected Bengaluru.
“This city was known as the garden city once, but that is no more the case. If a person wants to travel in his/her car from a point A to point B – a distance 10 to 15 km, it would take around 1 hour or 1 hour and 15 minutes. A cyclist would however cover the same distance in 30 minutes,” he says.
“There is a profound satisfaction in cycling. There’s plenty of time to think about life in general, reflect on the week that has gone by and free up the mind for the week ahead,” says 43-year-old P Shankar, CEO of FRSLABS who confesses to spending more on maintaining his bike than his car.