Increasing levels of pollution, traffic and unhealthy lifestyles in the city have made Hyderabad a hub for lifestyle diseases. With an average of one in ten people suffering from respiratory disorders, the statistics are not in our favour. Against this background, a group of enthusiasts are reviving an age old hobby usually associated with kids --- cycling.
Called the Hyderabad Bicycling Club, the group has actively been propagating the cycle as a fun-form of exercise and transport. The growing number of club members is a testimony to its success. What started in 2007 with Krishna Vadi, grew to a sizable 190 in 2009, and now boasts of 2164 members. Vadi, who is a bicycling and adventure enthusiast says, “I am really passionate about cycling and I wanted to find companions for riding which I did not find in my friend group. So I set up a page on the portal Meet-up. At first 15 members joined on meet up, out of which only five came up for the first ride. This was some time in August 2007. All though I am no longer an active member because of my busy schedule, I am extremely proud of the status it has achieved and I am still a regular rider. The presidents that took over after me, especially Shay Mandel, took it to a whole new level which I would have never been able to do.”
As a one-of-its-kind in the city, promoting cycling as an environment friendly commuting option and creating awareness about cycling as a sport, the Hyderabad Bicycling Club organizes rides across and around the city for both amateur and professional riders and also comes up with training sessions and courses on cycling. An easy-to-join club, one can check up on their schedules at www.meetup.com/HyderabadBicyclingClub.
For enthusiasts who are not members, the club has set up its own HBC Bike Station on Necklace Road, which is equipped with 30 Hybrid cycles, 30 MTB cycles, 10 Tandem cycles, 15 Road cycles and 15 Kid cycles which can be used by any one interested by paying a nominal rent fee on a per day basis, for use on Necklace road. The initiative has been set up in collaboration with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
D V Manohar, president of HBC who was a participant in the 518 kilometer ride from London to Paris, says, “Cycling is our passion and we aim at making Hyderabad the most cyclist friendly city and encourage people to keep riding.” To that effect, on March 18 a special bicycling track on Necklace Road was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, wherein a three km stretch of road was selected. The track is cordoned off every morning from 5 to 7 am and traffic is diverted, making it a cycle-friendly zone.
Apart from this, the club also uses cycling as a venue for supporting and hosting charity events to raise money, riding to villages to increase their awareness of sports, and volunteering as a group to support villages and schools in collaboration with other clubs and organizations like GHAC (Great Hyderabad Adventure Club) and Atlanta Foundation. One such upcoming event is the Freedom Ride scheduled for August 15 to support education.
All though most of the members are bicycling enthusiasts who join with the aim of reviving their favourite hobby, the club is equally open to all who are just looking for a fun form of fitness or roam around the city.
Like Anoop Sharma, who says, “I am a cyclist and love cycling a lot. I have steadily built up stamina over the past few months and can proudly say, ‘lets go on the cycle instead’ but I am still using my old cycle - a Hercules mtb 1993.”
Tammineni Sai Prakash who joined in August last year seems to have a different motive, “After a very long gap (read school days) of almost 25 years, I have started cycling again, I want to be physically fit and contribute my share to the environment and make my country clean and green and save petrol.”
The club which is on a mission to guide Hyderabadis to a healthier lifestyle has had 1454 meet-ups till now and has been doing an excellent job in its unique endeavour. The club is not only cultivating a highly healthy and eco-friendly habit in the city but also giving a new lease of life to all its existing members. As Hari Prasad, assistant organizer says, “My passion for cycling just re-ignited after joining the club and it has helped me discover my kinetic potential.” With new members joining everyday the club is surely on the right track and the city definitely seems to be riding its way to a healthier lifestyle.