They cycle for fitness, for fun, as an outing, and even a way of connecting with a world which many of us in metro cities fail to notice. For Aninda Dewan, Lubna Siddiqui and Rachita Chawla, cycling is part of life, a not-to-be missed daily routine. Aninda and Rachita are school teachers, while Lubna is an interior designer.
“I have to get on my cycle and explore the city every day,” says Aninda, who rides a hybrid bike (that falls between a thick-tyre mountain bike and a thin-tyre road bike). “There is joy in what I do. It definitely helps you attain a certain level of fitness but it is also a platform to popularise the effort to fight pollution. At the end of the day I know I have done my bit to bring down the pollution levels in the city by not using my car.” In fact, all three occasionally ride to their workplaces.
For Rachita, who has just bought a road bike, the joy has its roots in cycling during her childhood. “Zipping past the traffic when the motorized vehicles are stuck, meeting new riders, heritage rides and of course fitness levels which keep improving day by day,” are all factors that keep her at it. She has even once ridden from Chandigarh to Delhi. For Lubna, “I treat it as my time, away from the daily rigours of life. It is my time when I am with friends and exploring this city of great history.”
Over time, they have ignored unpleasant jibes from car and bus drivers, never losing their cool. “The golden rule of driving is never to argue,” adds Aninda. They cycle 25 to 50 km at one go, rarely solo, and in recent times, they believe Delhi has become sensitive towards women cyclists, not staring or glaring.
The trio that has cycled together for two years now, has convinced many of their friends to take up the hobby. “For fitness and enjoying the city from a new perspective,” says Rachita, who was the one most passionate amongst the three about discovering heritage spots. The group now has many of them on these excursions. On one of the trips the trio came across Azim Khan’s Tomb, in Mehrauli, a quiet spot of history, off the Delhi Tourism map. “Discovery is the best part of our cycling gang,” adds Lubna. Cycling, say the women, has had an impact on the way they drive: “When you drive a car, you also come to give cyclists the space they deserve,” says Aninda. Lubna, Rachita and Aninda look forward to this passion becoming a movement. “More cycles on roads means much less pollution,” concludes Aninda.