MYSURU: After a gap of 37 years, Mysuru resident N Sudha Satish began cycling again. The 49-year-old had to give up her exercise of climbing the stairs to the top of Chamundi Hills due to the pandemic and two months ago, she began to cycle. “I started with small rounds and developed a passion. Cycling doesn’t just keep you physically fit, it also helps your mental health. Pedalling and enjoying helps deal with stress,” she says.
Now, she covers 200km a week, taking long trips to Chamundi Hills, Nanjangud, KR Nagar, Krishnaraja Reservoir, and surrounding areas. Sudha isn’t the only one to discover or rediscover the joy of pedalling furiously and enjoying the exertion. A trekker and mother of two, 45-year-old Veena Ashok has been cycling for the past two years, sometimes on her own, sometimes in a group. “I ride road bikes and MTB cycles. We start in the wee hours of the day and finish around 11 am.
We take photographs and enjoy nature, which makes us energetic. Earlier, we barely saw people cycling. But post-Covid, many people have taken it up, especially on weekends,” she says. When Ekalavya awardee and co-founder of Cyclopedia Mysuru Lokesh Narasimhachar began promoting cycling in 2013, barely anyone was interested. “Now, people are more aware and the pandemic has only increased the desire to be fit. People buy cycles of all kinds, depending on what they can afford,” Lokesh says.
The lockdown and the necessity to maintain physical distance due to Covid-19 has made many people switch from exercising in gyms or swimming pools, to cycling alone, or in groups. Parents too have bought cycles for their kids as physical activities have been limited by the pandemic. Head constable at Chescom police station, V R Sheshadri, usually saw tourists biking around Mysuru during Dasara.
“But after the outbreak, people in many localities have taken it up. The major advantage is that we can maintain physical distance. I used to swim earlier, but because pools are closed, I have started cycling with people I swam with. The children have named the group ‘Swim Trek Exercise Cycle’,” the 45-year-old cop says. D S D Solanki, an adventure enthusiast who encourages women to take up cycling, says, “Due to work from home culture, some cycle to beat boredom and keep fit.
We see people visit Chamundi Hills, Kunti Hills and other destinations. Cycles with gears are quite expensive. If Trin Trin introduces more cycles with gears, it would attract more people.” Demand for bicycles, especially those with gears, has gone up in Mysuru with shops reporting more customers. “Compared to the past, there has been a rise in sales. There is good demand for cycles, road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes,” says Manoj C N, manager at Firefox Bike Station, Sharada Cycle and Watch Stores. For P Mruthyunjaya, an employee at HDFC Bank, cycling is doing his bit for the environment. He rides his bike to work every day and believes more people should take it up to reduce pollution.
Mysuru has plenty of scenic spots: Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir, Melukote, Kunti Betta, Chamundi Hill, Karighatta, Bettadapura Betta or peaks in neighbouring Kodagu district