Happy days are here again as a group of young bicycle enthusiasts are silently and slowly reviving the love for bicycles in the IT capital of the country and turning the simple pleasure of bicycling into an attractive and healthy holiday alternative.
"The Art of Bicycle Trips" (ABT), a group founded by three youths, has begun packaging the simple pleasures that bicycle trips offer as a healthy and attractive alternative to those looking for a different holiday experience.
"Often when people go on a holiday, they travel by cars, but here we are offering them the opportunity to travel on their bikes and enjoy nature directly and engage themselves with the local people en route, making it a different experience," says Pankaj Mangal, a co-founder of ABT.
The rather-Victorian charm of bicyling is what the ABT focusses on while taking groups on a bicyle trip. ABT handles every detail – from arranging a cycle, to deciding on the route and provides all conveniences, thus ensuring a beautiful cycling holiday to enjoy.
"The `Victorian Bangalore Safari' offers holidayers a relaxed bicycle safari that takes them back to the Victorian era, tracing the history of Bangalore Cantonment through the South Parade (now MG Road) and Cubbon Park," Pankaj said.
The trip is designed to offer a glimpse of the colonial past from the vantage point of a cycle.The cyclists ride along the boulevard of trees to have a glimpse of 19th century churches, stately homes, ‘Neo-Classical’ style monuments and indigenous and exotic botanical species found in the park.
The Victorian trip is a hit among NRIs and foreigners, who skip the comfort of an airconditioned tour, to go cycling on weekends in and around the city, he said.
"It was a great trip" Jeff, who recently visited Bangalore on business trip and went on the cycling holiday, said.
ABT also attempts to combine art of bicycle with culture, history and India's rich cultural heritage,offering a day-long trip to Nrityagram,a dance school set up by late Protima Bedi.
"This leisurely bicycle safari combines the delightful classical dance experience with the charms of an idyllic village through vegetable gardens, lake, dairy farms, open grassland and country roads", Pankaj said.
"The entire experience is exhiliarating. It brings back the old world charm of cycling", he said.
The fun also comes with loads of health benefits. "It turns out to be a healthy holiday trip", he said and one he is sure will find takers among fitness freaks.
Cycling can burn off a bar of chocolate or a couple of alcoholic drinks (300 calories) in an hour. A short 15-minute ride every day has the potential to vaporize five kg of fat in a year, says a member of the ABT.
India's heart and soul resides in rural India and bicycle trips allows the cyclist to come close to this part of India, says Pankaj, who struck upon the idea of a Cycling Holiday after going on one himself and enjoying it thoroughly.
ABT has invested in premium quality cycles to ensure that those going on the trip are not faced with technical snags and do not tire out cycling. "We also plan to introduce a family-cycle available overseas where a single cycle could accomodate a small family", he said.
Pankaj said "Children love cycling and the idea is to get their parents and kids involved and turn into a simple holiday affair", away from the cacophony of city life and the addiction to computer games and television.
Currently, though most cycling holidays are one day trips, the group plans to expand to week long trips and on other routes like the animal trail, the sea-side trail and nature trails.
ABT has also parallely launched its Cycle Movement whereby the ultimate aim is to make "Cycle the natural choice" for all. As part of the movement, the group recently showcased a film festival on bicycles. The films revolved around bicycles, he said.
Going forward, the ABT also announced the launch, "Bicycle Art Show" whereby participants could promote bicycle, through any art form, it could be painting, sculpture, photography, cartoon. "The bicycle had to be protagonist", he said.
The ABT is also in talks with international organisations like Greenpeace to promote Cycling as part of the Green Movement, given the environmental benefits of using cycles.
As famous writer H G Wells once said, "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race" and ABT attempts to do just that, rekindle hope for the environment through the art of bicycling.
"It is a great way to start your beautiful Sunday morning" says Rugvedita Parakh, a cyclist, bringing back memories of the famous Cliff Richard number of a beautiful holiday "We are on a holiday, a summer holiday".