IT capital takes to Cycling Holidays

Jacinta D''Souza

Bangalore, Jan 18 (PTI): Happy days are here again as agroup of young bicycle enthusiasts are silently and slowlyreviving the love for bicycles in the IT capital of thecountry and turning the simple pleasure of bicycling into anattractive and healthy holiday alternative.

"The Art of Bicycle Trips" (ABT), a group founded by threeyouths, has begun packaging the simple pleasures that bicycletrips offer as a healthy and attractive alternative to thoselooking 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 ontheir bikes and enjoy nature directly and engage themselveswith the local people en route, making it a differentexperience," says Pankaj Mangal, a co-founder of ABT.

The rather-Victorian charm of bicyling is what the ABTfocusses on while taking groups on a bicyle trip. ABT handlesevery detail � from arranging a cycle, to deciding on theroute and provides all conveniences, thus ensuring a beautifulcycling holiday to enjoy.

"The Victorian Bangalore Safari'' offers holidayers arelaxed bicycle safari that takes them back to the Victorianera, tracing the history of Bangalore Cantonment through theSouth Parade (now MG Road) and Cubbon Park," Pankaj said.

The trip is designed to offer a glimpse of the colonialpast from the vantage point of a cycle.The cyclists ride alongthe boulevard of trees to have a glimpse of 19th centurychurches, stately homes, �Neo-Classical� style monuments andindigenous and exotic botanical species found in the park.

The Victorian trip is a hit among NRIs and foreigners, whoskip the comfort of an airconditioned tour, to go cycling onweekends in and around the city, he said.

"It was a great trip" Jeff, who recently visited Bangaloreon business trip and went on the cycling holiday, said. MOREPTI JD MSR VS APR

ABT also attempts to combine art of bicycle with culture, history and India''s rich cultural heritage,offering a day-longtrip to Nrityagram,a dance school set up by late Protima Bedi.

"This leisurely bicycle safari combines the delightfulclassical dance experience with the charms of an idyllicvillage through vegetable gardens, lake, dairy farms, opengrassland and country roads", Pankaj said.

"The entire experience is exhiliarating. It brings back theold world charm of cycling", he said.

The fun also comes with loads of health benefits. "Itturns out to be a healthy holiday trip", he said and one he issure will find takers among fitness freaks.

Cycling can burn off a bar of chocolate or a couple ofalcoholic drinks (300 calories) in an hour. A short 15-minuteride every day has the potential to vaporize five kg of fat ina year, says a member of the ABT.

India''s heart and soul resides in rural India and bicycletrips allows the cyclist to come close to this part of India,says Pankaj, who struck upon the idea of a Cycling Holidayafter going on one himself and enjoying it thoroughly.

ABT has invested in premium quality cycles to ensure thatthose going on the trip are not faced with technical snags anddo not tire out cycling. "We also plan to introduce afamily-cycle available overseas where a single cycle couldaccomodate 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 holidayaffair", away from the cacophony of city life and theaddiction 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 otherroutes like the animal trail, the sea-side trail and naturetrails.

ABT has also parallely launched its Cycle Movement wherebythe ultimate aim is to make "Cycle the natural choice" forall. As part of the movement, the group recently showcased afilm festival on bicycles. The films revolved around bicycles,he said.

Going forward, the ABT also announced the launch, "BicycleArt Show" whereby participants could promote bicycle, throughany 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 organisationslike Greenpeace to promote Cycling as part of the GreenMovement, given the environmental benefits of using cycles.

As famous writer H G Wells once said, "When I see an adulton a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the humanrace" and ABT attempts to do just that, rekindle hope for theenvironment through the art of bicycling.

"It is a great way to start your beautiful Sunday morning"says Rugvedita Parakh, a cyclist, bringing back memories ofthe famous Cliff Richard number of a beautiful holiday "We areon a holiday, a summer holiday".

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