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Pedal your way to work, and health!
Vimali Swamy
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Meet Prashant Mohanty, a cycling enthusiast. A software engineer by profession, he works for Satyam and commutes to his office in Electronic City and back home at BTM Layout everyday on a cycle. Cycling to work means being stared at by people and taking an additional set of clothes to change after a shower at office.

But does this bother him? "Why should it? All I know is I reach office faster than others and I will live longer than others," he quips. Mohanty is just one of the few young techies who have realized the joy of cycling and seeing it as the only way to move about in the traffic locked Bangalore, or 'Jamgalore' as they call it.

Surprisingly a lot of young techies have opted for cycling to commute to work, and this community of cyclists has been witnessing a slow and steady growth in numbers. A group of such cyclists created a big buzz at the seventh edition of Barcamp held in IIM-Bangalore last month. Appearing in their sporty cycles and equipped with their cycling gear, they drew everyone's attention unto themselves and shared their experiences on cycling to work and the joy and benefits of cycling.

Varun, Vikram, and Swaroop, the three directors of Ion Lab, have been cycling to work for sometime now. Every time they get stuck in a traffic jam, they simply pick up their cycle and walk out of the jam. "I do get envious stares quite often from others who are either on a motor bike or a car and waiting for hours to wade through the traffic," says Varun.

Shrikant, a financial analyst at HP, cycles 16 km everyday and strongly recommends it to everyone. Not only is it fuel-efficient and eco–friendly, it is also a great way to stay fit without much effort. Over a few months he has been able to inspire many of his colleagues and today about 10-12 people at HP cycle to work. The number is slowly increasing in many other IT companies too.

These cyclists, though from different organizations, often come together on weekends and discover the pleasures of off-roading and long distance cycling to work. They have formed an online forum, http://bikeszone.com/forum/, where they share their experiences, encourage people to take up cycling, offer advice and tips on buying cycles, and bicycle maintenance.

Taking the awareness about cycling to new heights are the passionate cyclists Nikhil Eldurkar and Rohan Kini, two IT professionals who have started a website called bumsonthesaddle.com to bring about a cycling revolution in the city. From talking on radio shows to organizing road trips, they have been creating a stir amongst many to take up cycling and help Bangalore unlock itself.

"This is for the sake of the environment, because in the long run, if your environment is good, it's easier to keep fit. I think, by starting this we can bring together people with common ideas and thoughts and promote cycling," Kini says about the website. With more than 10 persons leaving their automobiles and opting for cycles within three months of the website’s launch, the idea seems to be catching on.

Most Bangaloreans normally think that cycles are too slow and hamper the movement of traffic, but one look at these young cyclists is enough to assure one that if anything is there today to help you commute on time in Bangalore then it can only be a bicycle.

Remember, it is never too late to take out your rickety old cycle, fine tune it, and hit the road to pedal your way to work and good health.
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