“My mission of this 2020 km-long solo cycling tour was to promote the clean mode of transport. I wanted to inspire people to take up cycling to reduce the carbon footprints that motor vehicles leave behind. Throughout this journey I spread the idea of car-free day among members of bicycle clubs in the cities en route my trip from Mangaluru to Indore. Presently car-free day is held in Mangaluru every second Saturday, and since this idea has received many likes among cyclists, I’m inclined to increase its frequency to at least four times a month”- Ganesh Nayak, Founder of Mangalore Bicycle Club
Mangaluru: Cycles and Cycling go hand in hand with entrepreneur Ganesh Nayak of Mangaluru, because he is not only a hard-core Cyclist but also a runs a business selling cycles – so he knows the abcd of cycles and the fun riding them. This long-distance two-wheeler travel venture is not new, since Ganesh in 2008, had rode his Harley Davidson motorbike solo from Mangaluru to Jammu via Delhi to take part in a business conference-then once again 2015, he again took motorbike tour to Bhutan- covering almost 7000 kms on each trip.
As it is known that Cycling is low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. Regular cycling has many physical and mental health benefits. It is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems such as stroke, heart attack, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis. To be fit and healthy you need to be physically active. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment. Also riding to work or the shops is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine.
Cycling will get to your destination faster than other vehicles during rush hours in the city; Cycling also reduces pollution; Cycling makes you – Sleep more deeply; Look younger; Boosts your bowels; Increases your brain power; Beats illness; Live longer; Save the planet; Heal your heart; Lose weight in the saddle; Avoid pollution; Enjoy healthy family time etc etc. And for that matter, Ganesh Nayak is enjoying his hobby of cycling, and also want to spread the word as to how beneficial is cycling to one’s health and lifestyle – and he intends on organizing many awareness programmes about the goodness of cycling.
Speaking to Mangalorean.com about his motto behind this cycling expedition, Ganesh said, “My mission of this 2020 km-long solo cycling tour was to promote the clean mode of transport. I wanted to inspire people to take up cycling to reduce the carbon footprints that motor vehicles leave behind. Throughout this journey I spread the idea of car-free day among members of bicycle clubs in the cities en route my trip from Mangaluru to Indore. Presently car-free day is held in Mangaluru every second Saturday, and since this idea has received many likes among cyclists, I’m inclined to increase its frequency to at least four times a month”- Ganesh Nayak, Founder of Mangalore Bicycle Club.
He further said that his main intention of taking such long-distance was to promote the idea that one can commute to work on a bicycle. During this trip, Ganesh covered a average of 100-kms a day with a 12-hour ride starting early morning, at 5 am. Meeting many cyclists in every town he stopped by, Ganesh met the local cyclists and interacting with them, he exchanged the views and benefits of cycling. “They are realizing the potential of car-free day and intend to implement the MBC concept in their hometowns” said Ganesh. As a founder of Mangalore Bicycle Club, Ganesh has motivated Mangaluru cyclists to engage in group bicycle rides of 75 km, 100 km, and 200 km.
Following is the description of the cycle adventure by Ganesh Nayak in his own words :
February 8, 2016: Day 1 – I was very excited to start Solo cycling journey of my life time with 29 fantastic riders of MBC- Mangaluru. Had a grand welcome and hospitality at Kodi beach by few down to earth personalities. Also visited worlds first eco-friendly green mosque and rode with the group up to Kundapur. Continued solo until I reached Maravanthe where I decided to call it a day!
Day 2– covered 10% distance of my planned ride, started very late, scorching sun, dusty all throughout due to road construction, minor fall but reached safe!
Day 3– Started early, pleasant weather, beautiful roads with less traffic but the only thing I didn’t like was the elevation had to literally push my bike at 3 different points. Had a chance to meet a Mangalorean Mr. Samuel at Makki, Sirsi who shared his thoughts on ‘life at village’ he was very happy and content living here. It was a short but tough ride today!
Day 4- Started my ride at 6 am sharp. First 15 kms of ride I almost felt like packing my bag and go back home, but once my body warmed up it went very smooth and exciting. Riding through scenic roads, I happened to come across a few interesting cyclists like Mr. Ganapathi, a farmer, who has been using his cycle for 50+ years mainly for commuting and Mr. Chengappa, a milkman, who waived at me to have a look at my cycle. He was excited with the touch and feel of my bike though he politely denied my offer to take it for a spin.
The most interesting part was when a group of school students on their cycles came across for a chit chat with me. My belief became stronger, if these kids can ride their bikes on highway why can’t kids in Mangaluru start commuting to school on their cycles? This will surely be a big step towards pollution free environment.
I joined the Golden Quadrilateral at 12 pm. Roads were fantastic, but the ride became a bit tough because of scorching sun. Visited Mr. Chintan shah at Deepak cycles and had a look at his bicycle store. Met Mr. Amit and Mr. Anand from Hubballi Bicycle Club, discussed in detail on sharing of ideas between both clubs and working together to promote the culture of cycling. Waiting to start my 5th day of riding with Hubli Bicycle Club members. Time to say good night.
Day 5- I was privileged enough to start my with a few passionate cyclists from Hubli Bicycle club riding with me till Dharwad meeting a few more cyclists from Dharwad cycling group. Had my sponsored breakfast with them and proceeded with my journey. Favourable road conditions along with pleasant weather made my ride a very memorable one. Reached Belgaum at noon and met a few cyclists from Belgaum Cycling Club. Had a chance to exchange ideas between both clubs and shared our plans of doing activities together in the future. Couldn’t spend much time with them as I had another 100 kms left for the day.
The path ahead was not an easy one for me as I had almost the same distance to be covered as much I rode until Belgaum. Although mentally stressed a bit, I set out to complete my mission for the day. Reached Kolhapur around 8 pm and visited Mahalakshmi temple. Not really sure what time I dozed of, I was up by 6 am today, fresh but with broken muscles and hence decided to take some rest before I proceed with ‘Cycling journey of my lifetime’
Day 6- After 5 hectic days of riding continuously, thought of keeping this day relatively easy. Utilised the time in hand to connect with few members of Kolhapur Cycling Club and dealer friends. Meeting with Mr. Anup Parmale, who had recently completed his Iron man triathlon was very significant. Very constructive discussion in terms of developing cycling culture in Mangaluru.
Started off my ride around 3 pm. Had a smooth ride on the scenic roads, clicked a lot of pictures and reached Karad around 6 pm. Looking forward to my ride tomorrow, which will be a tough one, but will help me cross the first milestone of 1000 kms.
Day 7- Started early for the long ride to Pune from Karad. Chilling weather and fantastic roads made my ride beautiful. Scenic views on both sides energised me all the more. Temperature rose up a bit towards noon but most of my ride was pleasant. Had couple of gradual climbs, however thanks to the golden quadrilateral it went in smooth. Reached Pune and met Mr. Mihir from Bergamont India at his store. Also met Mr. Niranjan, a cyclist from Pune, who rides regularly and inspires many to ride. During my city ride in Pune, I found many people commuting on cycles, also using the dedicated cycling lanes, which is a point we should work upon in Mangaluru.
Reached my aunt’s place for a pleasant surprise waiting for me, a grand welcome with modak and flower bouquet and adding on to that was the presence of the two driving forces in my life, my wife and daughter were waiting for me for completing almost 50% distance of my planned cycling expedition. I was on cloud 9 with this gesture. I couldn’t have asked for anything better celebrating this milestone with my loved ones.
Day 8- My passion for cycling was acknowledged and honoured by Mr.Pravin Patil, chief of Giant India and his team. My bike was offered a free checkup at their state of art workshop just to ensure that my journey goes smooth without any breakdown. Idea sharing with Mr.Parmod Singh from Giant India was enriching. Also got a chance to interact with Mr.Raman Agrawal, chief of Merida India during my 2 days stay at Pune.
Post enjoying 48 hours of rest at my aunts place, savouring home made food, riding my bike for first 5 kms was a drag but then I was overwhelmed when I met the Pune cycling gang, all energetic and encouraging, come all the way to see me off. Rode for about 20 kms together followed by a cup of roadside chai and a bit of idea sharing session with cyclists.
My journey continued solo there onwards and I was back to my business, clicking pictures, enjoying the view and introspection. As usual, the weather turned hot and humid during mid day but the downhill ride and the fantastic view from Lonavla was worth every fraction of my time spent. This continued for a few kilometres and as I approached Belapur the heavy traffic at Navi Mumbai did give me a grand welcome!
My lunch was suppose to be with my Ex boss, Mr.Sameer Tiwari, a friend, guide and a well wisher more than being a senior. Enjoyed the elaborate lunch that was arranged for me followed by a bowl full of kheer which made me drowsy. Spent some time with his family and a selfie with them. He did take a test ride of my bicycle and his expressions are well captured on the photograph!
Riding 30 kms from Belapur to Thane was something I wouldn’t want to do once again, long stop over, filled tummy, chaotic traffic topped with polluted air made my ride miserable. Visited Jose George at his store Haybren Adventures, I also met Saharsh Deulkar who had come all the way from Jogeshwari to meet me. He’s a traveller friend who had visited Mangalore on his way from Mumbai to Kanyakumari on his bicycle and since then we are connected. We did inspire a walk-in customer at Jose’s store to upgrade to a better bike hearing our riding stories. We were treated like celebrities with a group pic together but we did not get our part of commission on this sale from Jose.
Couldn’t meet up with a few friends to whom I had promised to meet up during this journey. I believe they will understand the challenges I had and forgive me. My stay was arranged at Anthony George’s place and our dinner at Jose’s place. Honestly, I enjoyed the royal treatment offered to me at both the place and I owe the same to them when they visit Mangaluru next! Hitting bed at 12 am post heavy dinner especially when you know your ride starts at 5 am next morning is very tuff and doesn’t let you sleep, but then my tiredness overpowered my mind and I dozed off in no time!
Day 9- Difficult to describe, as it commenced with a fall of a rider friend from Thane who intended to join me for a short stretch before I proceed solo to my next point, Daman. This incidence bugged me all throughout and adding on to this was the boring route and heavy traffic. Heavy vehicles multiplied in numbers all of a sudden, land on both the sides were almost dead, I could see the rivers dried up, the depth from the road to the ground is well explained in one of my pictures. Overall I was running low on positiveness and trying to push myself towards the goal post that I had set for myself.
Until I Bumped into this smart chap Master Sunil, a school dropout not by choice but due to his parents travelling in search of work. I did click a picture of him and what he said post that brought a smile on my face. He asked me ‘wassup Karoge’? Dikhao. Then he asked, aap Rooz aaoge? Maine bahut cycling dost banaye hai idar. As I was still trying to overcome the bad beginning I had experienced that day I said bye to him and in return he said ‘Sambhal ke jaana’ this brought me back to life. This acted like a dose of insulin to my life that day!
Temperature shot up to its best and I was almost drained. I was taking short breaks every 20 minutes to keep myself cool and hydrated. Was trying to stay connected with friends on whatsapp and other platforms to make myself feel comfortable and stop thinking about the balance journey which I knew would be difficult. Finally reached Daman and freshened up as part of my daily routine and hit the bed for some good sleep.
Day 10- Ride commenced at 6 am sharp and the journey planned for the day was comparatively shorter. I wanted to reach Surat early and take some rest, my body and mind were not responding positively for the kind of rigour they were going through. Sun wasn’t kind enough on me as usual and I started scouting for some shade until I found this small but authentic Gujarati restaurant. Filled my tummy and rested for a while on the bench laid outside the restaurant answering to strange question by curious people around. “Yeh petrol se chalta hai ?”, “kitana tez chalta hai yeh ?”, “thak nahi jaate aap ?”, “kitne ka hai yeh cycle?” Vagera vagera
Gujarat was more scenic compared to that of north Maharashtra and I enjoyed clicking few pictures for my memories. Stopping every now and then for this activity did reduce my speed but then I had the responsibility of capturing my journey to the benefit of larger group back in Mangaluru. I was getting a feeling that the distance to Surat was only increasing despite pushing my pedal as much hard. It was just not getting over and I was losing my momentum. Heavy traffic and pollution made me realise that I have arrived at Surat. I was only waiting for my GPS to say ‘you have reached your destination’! Hotel manager was polite enough to let me take my wife .. errr.. my bike to my room. Air conditioner was set to 18 degree celsius and I was under the blanket in no time.
Day 11- I did gather a small crowd outside the hotel I stayed at Surat just before I started rolling for the day! As usual, strange questions and my stupid replies to them I was relatively in a good mood as I had completed 75% of my journey and could vaguely see my goal post. It was a pleasant ride until 12 pm and then the sun was up completely, shining at its best. I did not want to stop as my destination for the day was yet far and kept my pedalling pace comfortable. Hydration every 20 minutes was the mantra and it did help my muscles a lot.
It was the first time I was riding with a simple white tee and not our full sleeve club jersey. I very well knew that the tan on my skin would show up soon but I was somehow reluctant or lazy, whatever you can assume. I wouldn’t want to describe the unpleasant episode that had taken place at the reservation desk with reference to getting a special parking for my Surly. I did win the battle but by the time I checked into my room I was like a dead fish!
I was under the shower in no time trying to clean all the dirt that I could possibly accumulate on my way. Then it was time for my power nap. I was pleasantly surprised by a visitor, none other that Mr. Sadashiva Rao. Out of the blue, how on earth, am I dreaming is what came to my mind seeing him at the door. I felt homely sharing all my experiences with Rao sir. It was a wonderful gesture from his side which will be remembered forever . He was kind enough, asking me to take some rest and bid good bye!
Day 12- Started my day early, meeting Sadashiva Rao from Mbc Mangaloreand Nikita Lalwani from Cycling Cities In at one of the oldest coffee shop ‘Canara Coffee House’ at Vadodara, sharing ideas on how to encourage and promote ‘cycling for commute’. We discussed quite a bit over the breakfast and then I bid good bye to both of them and continued my ride towards Ahmedabad. It was a very scenic route from Vadodara to Ahmedabad and I enjoyed every bit of my ride. Stopped over at a chai shop where they served me with a cup & saucer full of chai as sweet as kheer It was different but I did enjoy sipping it.
The day was a feast for photography and I stopped over at so many places for capturing my memories to be cherished later. It was a short but sweet journey throughout. I had a bad experience at the hotel from the moment I reached and throughout my stay. The front office manager displayed unprofessionalism looking at me arriving on a bicycle and blocked me right at the gate stating “bicycles are not allowed” and so was the chef who served me a chicken burger instead of egg.
I was too tired for an argument with both and completed the check in formalities and hit the bed in no time. I was not so surprised to see the GM of the hotel visiting me apologising for the unprofessionalism his subordinate had displayed and also for the blunder what his chef had done. He did insist me to order a drink of my choice as complementary and I enjoyed a strawberry milk shake and called it a day!
Day 13- My day started at 5:30 am, catching up with Mr. Anantha Krishna, brother of Mbc Mangalore member Mr. Shubhanand Rao. He visited my hotel with a flower bouquet welcoming me to Ahmedabad. I felt so great with this gesture, not that I deserved. We then visited Ahmedabad Cyclothon to get first hand experience of one of the biggest cycling event in Ahmedabad. We were surrounded by 2000+ cyclist participating in different categories like 100, 50 and 14 kms ride. It was an amazing experience something similar to that of Rx Cycle rally in Mangalore. I also enjoyed view of the beautiful Sabarmati river.
On our way back to the hotel we did a little bit of sight seeing until I realised I was getting late for my ride and bid good bye to Mr. Krishna. My destination for the day was Dahod, almost 190 kms from my starting point. This day will be remembered as one of the worst days of my cycling life! Thanks to the route, people, weather and last but not the least my luck, all of them turned me down on the same day! To begin with, I had a flat tire and it took me good 30 minutes under the hot sun for repair and start rolling again but with soiled hands and completely drenched with my own sweat!
The route was so dry and hot, I could see one of rivers on my way completely dried up and when I checked with the locals there if the river flows during monsoon at least ? He said, Chaar Saal se yaha baarish hua hi kahan sir .. Pehale behatata paani par ab nahi.. Sad but fact I couldn’t find packaged water for almost 30 kms because of which I suffered mild cramps. I was worried as I had a very long distance to cover and I was just half way through.
Then came the real surprise like an icing on the cake which I had already baked with greasy hands, sweat and cramps! 3 local monkeys on their 2 motorbikes approached me asking for a ride on my bike! I was like, what’s wrong with you people.. ‘Apna bike chalao na, dusron ko preshaan karna chod do’.. They brought me to a complete halt by blocking my way and then getting down their bikes. I stood bold and held my bike tight when they tried snatching it. I warned them of calling the cops but they did not budge. My hand almost reached the knife that I was carrying for my safety. I then pulled my bike from them and started riding but they were back on task honking, coming closer trying to push me down the road. I then shouted and warned them that my support vehicle with more than 5 people are just about to reach as I had sounded them off about this event. I asked them to wait and experience what’s coming their way and it worked! They abused me with whatever words they had in their dictionary and fled!
I was shook from within post this unpleasant event and wanted to reach Dahod as soon as possible. Had a call from Kishu bhai which helped me recover from this trauma to an extent. Reached hotel at 8 pm and the manager was kind enough to allow me to take my bicycle to the room. Sent a text message to my family, friends and well wishers that I am safe and dozed off
Day 14- The day of joy, I could feel the goal post that I had set for myself and victory was waiting for me on the other side, it wasn’t an easy one though. After riding 13 days and especially what happened on the previous day, I wasn’t comfortable reaching late. Without wasting even a minute I commenced my ride from Dahod carrying sufficient water and fruits for the last leg of my expedition.
The roads were amazing until I reached Madhya Pradesh border where the 4/6 lane roads shrunk into single lane on and off. I got to hear from the locals that the construction had stopped and its almost 4+ years now. This was totally unexpected and my speed dropped considerably and my arms developed pain due to the hammering effect on the handlebar which made my ride unpleasant. This continued for about 20 kms and it was really painful covering that distance.
Madhya Pradesh was boring until I reached the 4/6 lane again and fortunately the roads turned good and scenic. I was drained both physically and mentally, riding at snail pace dragging myself all the way to the finish line which was 90 kms away. During a short break I called up my senior from T A Pai Management Institute, Mr. Abhishek Airen who is from Indore about my arrival. He did offer to arrange refreshment/ support from his business unit at Rathlam. His words did give me a sense of confidence and push for the balance ride though I did not avail it. I now had a person to reach out to in case of any emergency and that made me feel better.
My pedalling continued, at times I felt as if I was going through the stage of rigorous punishment for the sins I had committed in the past! Text messages kept on flowing in from friends, relatives and well wishers on my whereabouts and I didn’t have the energy to even look at them. Finally I made it to the finish line at 8:30 pm covering 2020 Kms on my bicycle in 14 days with loads of learning, pain and experience to be shared and cherished all my life! My eyes were filled, with all kind of emotions, I was far from home missing my people at this joyous moment of my life. Lastly, my cycling expedition doesn’t end here, this is just the beginning.
Day 15- Day of celebration! Got up very late, missed the buffet breakfast at Best western , completed my checkout formalities and enjoyed the drive to Abhishek Airen’s office at Indore. I spent some valuable time with him understanding his new venture which he started 4 years ago. I could see he was completely occupied at work and I was really happy with his success! A self made man and a successful entrepreneur.
We had our buffet lunch together at Radisson’s and it was yummy! I was privileged to meet his friends from various backgrounds who were part of the Round Table Indore chapter. I did share my riding experience with them persuading them to take up cycling for fitness. They had arranged a media team for covering my ride experience and I am really grateful to them for this opportunity. I only wish that my story inspires more people from Indore to take up cycling for healthier and greener future!
Had a chance to see more than a dozen cycling stores on Maharani road and then visited Cycle World for getting my bike dismantled and packed for transportation. Mr. Harish Karda, a dealer friend was kind enough to help me out. Had a discussion with him on topics related to our trade. A million thanks to Mr. Anand Pai for helping me transport my bike from Indore to Mangaluru on Bharath Beedi truck. This has given me lot of relief both in terms or ease and safety. With friends like him around, life becomes easier and I am really grateful to him.
I was lucky to meet Mr. Rajneesh, an Army man first, then a friend and lastly our customer who is currently stationed at Mhou, Indore. Was extremely happy to know that he had transported his bicycle to Indore and cycles regularly. We discussed the recent disturbances going on at Indian Army, he did give me insights on the reality and I was taken aback. We had dinner together and he dropped me to IIM campus. My stay was arranged at IIM campus and I am really grateful to Retired Colonel K Thammayya Udupa , Chief Administrative Officer at IIM Indore, for this wonderful arrangement.
Day 16- ‘IIM Indore ki sair’. Thanks to Retired Colonel K Thammayya Udupafor giving me an opportunity to stay at the campus. It was a royal treatment that I enjoyed, right from pickup and drop, food and stay, taking me through the campus facilities and introducing me to the entire administrative team followed by a group photograph. When I returned to the Chief Administrative office after my campus visit, I was all the more surprised to see Retired Colonel stand and work, not using his plush chair! He said he hardly uses it, only when there are guests around. This proves how tough an Army man can be, a big salute to his discipline, dedication and commitment towards life.
We then discussed how we can integrate ideas from Mangalore Bicycle Club to IIM for promoting cycling culture among the students there by utilizing the 50 gear bicycles which they already have in their campus. It was an enriching experience for me and something very prestigious which will be remembered for life. Picked up some local delicacies and bid good bye to Indore, enjoying my easy way back home by Jet airways!