Let’s Pedal to stay fit

Dr Azhar Khan
Vehicle with two wheels which requires balancing by the rider dates back to early 19th century. The credit of first patented design of cycle goes to a German, Karl Von Drias in 1818. Cycle design has changed many times in these two centuries. It has been made more comfortable, stable and aerodynamically better. The frame has been made lighter without compromising the strength because of the new technologies that we have like hydroforming and then the carbon fibre layerup. Some people opted cycling for commuting, some as recreational activity and some as a sport.
Since the origin of cycle in 1800s, it was very commonly used for commuting in USA and Europe. In USA in 1920s there was a sudden drop in people cycling to work but in Europe people were into cycling till 1950s. If we talk about present times, Amsterdam (the capital and largest city of the Netherlands) is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world. It has 400 kms of bike lanes and nearly 40% of all commutes in Amsterdam are done on bike. The average distance cycled per person per day is 2.5 kms. Bike theft is a big problem, with about one of five (20%) bicycles being stolen each year. In the Denmark 18% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person is 1.6 km. In Copenhagen, 37% of all citizens ride their bike on a daily basis. In the Germany 9% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per inhabitant per day is 0.9 km. Cycling is ingrained in the German culture.
Racing is another popular sport around the world. The first cycling race was a 1,200 meters race held on May 31, 1868 at the Park of Saint-Cloud, Paris. Every year many racing competitions are organized around the world where the cycling enthusiasts and top riders of the world take part and push their hamstrings against each other. Few famous competitions are Tour de france (France), Amgen Tour of California (USA), Milan-San Remo (Italy), Paris-Roubaix (France) etc.
Tour de France (The modern versions of the Tour de France of 21 day-long stages over a 23-day duration and cover around 3,500 kms)
Cycling in India dates back to 1938. The Cycling Federation of India takes care of the sport. In our country it’s more of a recreational sport. We have many cycling clubs in India namely Cyclesutra, Mumbai cycle Enthusiasts, Delhi collective cyclist, Noida Cycling Club, Cyclop etc. These clubs frequently organize cycle rides in and around cities. The Tour of Nilgiris is a major non-competitive & non-commercial touring event in South Asia that covers 1,000 kms in under 10 days. The Rotary Club of Madras Midtown conducted a cycle rally called K2K Tour de Rotary, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, for the cause of Swatch Bharat. In similar manner, Indian Cycling League conducts GPS based Cycling races to keep motivating cyclists of India.
* Cycling everyday increases your strength, endurance and stamina.
* Burns the calories and increases the body metabolism so can be helpful in maintaining weight.
* Strengthens the muscles. It is a very good exercise for hamstrings, quadriceps, core and back muscles.
* Improves the mental well being of the individual
* Keeps the joints in the healthy state.
* It is good for the cardiovascular system as well.
* It is a good economical way to commute that anyone can go for. It doesn’t require any huge investment and is a feasible option for everyone.
* It’s eco-friendly and doesn’t contribute to pollution. A bicycle commuter who rides 8kms to work four days a week will save 750Kg of CO2 emissions in a year.
* Helps you to explore the area around you in a more better way.
* Helps you have a sound sleep
According to the report by Transport Research Wing (TRW) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in India in the five years (between 2011 and 2015), 25,435 cyclists have been killed. As we all know that the condition of road for cycling in India is not up to the mark. We are not having separate tracks for cyclists like we see in developed countries which makes cyclist vulnerable to road traffic accidents.
So at the end, Cycling is an easy to go option and should be considered by everyone. It has many benefits but like all vehicles rash driving is never advocated. Wear all the safety gears when going on a ride. Drive safe and keep paddling.