Adventure for a greater cause

Cycle tourism

Some plan a cycling tour for pleasure and adventure, while there are some who are doing the same for a charitable cause. These trips can be a single-day trip or extend up to uncountable number of days.

Indian Terrain Tour of Nilgiris (TfN) 2015 was flagged off from Bengaluru on December 16 and concluded at Pollachi, Tamil Nadu on December 23. 109 riders covered 876 kms over 8 days crossing the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and raised over 14 lakhs for charitable causes. Dr Arvind Bhateja, best known as Captain of the Spectrum Racing cycling team, along with his cousin Vivek Bhateja raised Rs 10 lakh towards charitable program of Free Spine Surgery at Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital; whereas riders supporting the same cause have raised over Rs 4 lakhs for Aditya Mehta Foundation and Iksha foundation.

Organised by RideACycle Foundation (RAC-F), a non-profitable advocacy organisation, the event aimed to promote cycling tourism. Sridhar Pabbisetty, co-founder, RAC-F, says, “It was a delight to watch the riders enjoy the tour. They have shown great determination and discipline in the 876 kms stretch which was very demanding. It included some never ending climbs, testing technical descents, crumbled and potholed roads to super fast urban traffic. The forests provided ample animal sightings including elephants, gaurs, giant Malabar squirrels and wild mongooses.”

He explains that the protocol of going through the forests in groups along with escorts ensured that no man animal conflict arose and the riders were moving according to the forest department’s advice and guidance.

On another such tour, more than 250 kung fu nuns of the Drukpa Order (state religion in Bhutan) have commenced an arduous 50 day/2200 Km cycle yatra from Kathmandu in Nepal across the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP) to create awareness for women empowerment and environment consciousness. The Cycle Yatra, led by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa (the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas) is currently in UP and will cover over 2,200 kilometres from Kathmandu passing through the Indian states of UP and Bihar through Gorakhpur, Gaya, Patna, Rajgir, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur and Agra before culminating in Delhi on January 9, 2016.

The riders talk to passerby, and educate them with history and mythology of the place. As they believe each of these places have a story that is related to the spiritual development of the society.

When the third Drukpa Eco Cycle Yatris arrived at Bodh Gaya, where Prince Siddhartha attained supreme enlightenment, they dedicated the entire evening of practice for the benefit of all beings. They interact with the locals and talked to them about cycling being a mode of commutation that we are leaving behind.  Gyalwang tells Metrolife, “People are curious about the cycle yatra and want to know more about it. Since we’re travelling from Kathmandu, where there is a severe commute issue, we are  focusing on the importance of an alternate mode of transportations like cycling, which is good for health.”

He says, “Crossing the Mahatma Gandhi Setu, the bridge over the river Ganges connecting Patna in the south to Hajipur in the north of Bihar, was quite a challenge, as it is one of the longest river bridges in India, with heavy traffic.”

“Even though we think that we are doing a wonderful activity to encourage and inspire environment preservation and women empowerment, there will be opposing voices and criticisms. Making positive progress on the genuine path of spirituality is like a boat sailing against the current, it must forge ahead or it will be driven back,” he adds.

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