Cycling on "Bandra-Worli Sealink" in "28Kms Amateur Ride'

Cycling on "Bandra-Worli Sealink" in "28Kms Amateur Ride'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Amateur 28 Kms Ride" in Mumbai cyclothon-2011.(Sunday 13-2-2011)

Readers familiar with my blogs will also be familiar with my personal passion for cycling, especially since the 1990's when we had a residence in Bangalore.During my 2 decades of intermittently shuttling between my homes in Mumbai and Banaswadi(Bangalore), entire mode of local transport during my holiday stays in Bangalore was the humble cycle, except for extremely long distances where motorized transport was unavoidable.I have been a "Fitness Freak"since childhood and thanks to jogging and swimming my personal physical fitness is normal, besides,cycling has enabled me to tour impenetrable localities in Mumbai as well as sightseeing Bangalore at my own leisure.In fact i was the rare "Middle-Class individual" using a cycle as a mode of transport in my locality in Mumbai, regularly commuting between "Mahatma Gandhi Swimming pool" and my residence in Prabhadevi during peak Mumbai traffic hours, akin to "Adventure Sports".In Mumbai , cycling in peak traffic is mostly done only by low income working class of hawker traders and Mumbai's World famous "Dabbawala's",a poor mans mode of transport. Have been a great fan of the "Tour De France" race,especially Lance.Armstrong, watching the same on telivision and was ultimately thrilled when the "Mumbai cyclothon" was first inaugurated in 2010.Have personally read the book "Its not about the bike" by Lance.Armstrong which had a great effect on my personal life, besides increasing my passion for the sport of cycling, a rare freak in cricket crazy India. Personally attended the "Mumbai Cyclothon" race venue on Sunday(21-2-2010) at the "Bandra reclamation Grounds" near Rangsharda theatre, photographing and videotaping the carnival atmosphere being also mistaken for a media personnel.In 2011 decided to personally participate in the race as a means of satisfying my ambition of competing in a authentic cycle race of International importance as well as promoting the cause of cycling as a means of clean non-polluting transport in Mumbai.There were various categories of competition in the "Mumbai cyclothon-2011" and at age 50 i decided that the "15Kms green ride" would suit my physical capacity of competing as well as experiencing the "Mumbai cyclothon Carnival". Registered my entry in the "15Kms Green Ride" category by paying Rs 382 at "Landmark Mall" reception counter in Phoenix High street in Parel.Strangely, the organisers of the "Mumbai cyclothon-2011' did not publicise the events much, hence, even the mall registration centre staff were totally unaware of the rules and regulation of finally registering for the "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011" as they were instructed to only collect the money from competitors.Thanks to the "Internet", as a member of "www.cyclists.in" managed to gather information from fellow cyclists and a young collegian named Johann.Daniels guided me to the right formality of personally registering for "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011".
I had developed a serious muscle pain in my right leg calf muscle and was hoping that it would heal before the "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011" scheduled for Sunday(13-2-2011).
Through "Facebook Social Website" managed to acquire the "Route Map' of the "15Km ride" as also discussions with other cyclists.A veteran American cyclist and cycling journalist named Gregg.Bleakney whom i befriended on 'Facebook" corresponded with me stating that he would be coming to Mumbai to compete in the "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011".Gregg has toured manny parts of the World including America by cycle and has photographed his "Bicycle World Travels" for professional exhibition and writing for cycling magazines.His photographs were to be exhibited at the "Trident hotel" in "Bandra-Kurla Complex" along with a "Fashion Show" and he invited me for the same.I am basically a shy person and although an extrovert in known company or acquaintances , basically have few friends and hence decided that the "Bollywood fashion show " would make me feel like a fish out of water since i was a total stranger, knowing Gregg just through "Facebook" and being his guest just as an "Amateur cyclist" enthusiast.According to media reports the "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011" fashion show cum photographic exhibition was a big hit with well known show business personalities in attendance with Gregg.Bleakney himself being a total stranger to "Bollywood Celebrity" and they to him!I wonder how many Bollywood celebrities would recognize Lance.Armstrong if he suddenly  visited Mumbai ,akin to Hindi actor and cycling freak Salman.Khan strolling through the streets of New York.
Cyclists  assembled at "MET GROUNDS" for the start of Amateur " 28 Kms cycle ride"


On Friday(11-2-2011) rode my cycle to "MET Grounds" near Lilavati Hospital in Bandra and got myself registered for the "15Km Green ride".I was handed my "Bib Nos 3510" along with a satchel bag which consisted of a "T-Shirt", "cycle snack" and a bottle of water.As i was about to leave the grounds met some cyclists from "www.cycle.in" and on discussion was advised to upgrade to the "28Kms amateur ride" as that race allows competitors to ride on the "Rajiv Gandhi sealink(Bandra-Worli sealink)" bridge. I feel embarrassed to admit that although i have traveled most parts of the globe having visited some of the world's longest Bridges like the "Penang bridge" in Malaysia , yet, the "Bandra-Worli sealink" situated in my backyard locality of Worli in Mumbai was a stranger to my city sightseeing tours.Only 4-wheeler vehicles are allowed on the "Rajiv Gandhi sealink(Bandra-Worli sealink)" with cycles allowed only once a year for competitors during the "Mumbai cyclothon".Hence i decided to also fulfill my ambition of riding on the "Bandra-Worli sealink" at my own leisure and luxury, a single luxurious day of riding in the life of a Mumbai cyclist freak.Went back to the registration counter and requested them to upgrade me to the "28Km Amateur Ride" which they obliged without any extra charges, only requiring me to produce the "Bib Nos 3510" for confirmation of registration."DESTINY" has played a major role in my life and least of all in the "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011".On opening my satchel realized that the "bib Nos" was missing, same confusing me and the local organizer guides who were helping me register.After searching all over the place, including inquiries finally decided to leave the venue,since i would have to pay Rs 382 all over again for re-registration for a new "Bibnos". Even the Organizer guides were sympathizing with me for my bad luck when suddenly i happened to notice a small paper blank poster on a registration table. On inverting it , to my great relief realized it was my missing "Bib Nos 3510" and hence got registered for the "28Km amateur ride", pure providence.Cycled back home from "MET Grounds", a distance of approx 6 Kms and planned to rest the next day for the cycle race on Sunday (13-2-2011)
"MUMBAI CYCLOTHON -2011" :- After completion of  28 Kms Ride.
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Sunday (13-2-2011) :-Set my cellphone alarm for 0400 hrs on Sunday, anxious to participate in my first "Cycle race' at a grand young age of only 50 years.Matata, my Persian tom cat woke me up before the alrm, "yo-welling" as usual, his irritating "signature tune" to arouse our attention.Had a quick shower, a breakfast of 2 boiled eggs prepared by miss Sabina.Dias my house care-taker and packed 3 chocolates and a water bottle for my marathon cycle ride from Prabhadevi to Bandra and finally competition in the "28Kms amateur Ride".Left my residence "Vaibhav apartments(Old Prabhadevi road)" at approx 0500 hrs, cycling with my ear-phones plugged to "Cell-phone FM music". It was on an empty road to Bandra,myself, the odd cyclist on road with helmet, reaching the "MET Grounds" at approx 0525 hrs, one of the earliest competitors to report at the main gate.Met a few co-competitors, all youngsters compared to me and picked up a conversation with some of them.Strangely, post "Mumbai Cyclothon-2010" it seems cycling in Mumbai has become an elitist hobby fitness sport with some of the costliest "Cycle Brands" being sold in India.All cyclists, rich or poor admit to the fact that cycling on Mumbai's streets can only be done either early in the morning or late in the night, never during peak traffic hours for fear of personal road safety.The slogan for the "Mumbai Cyclothon" is "Burn fat not fuel" and hence since 2010, the inaugural year, its a day to cycle in style for physical fitness as well as to enhance the environment by avoiding the usage of fossil fuel.Swiss based International cycling federation "The Unione Cycliste Internationale(UCI) " and Indias cycling federation of India (CFI) were joint sponsors of the "Tour De Mumbai 1 & 2" of 2011.The "Tour De Mumbai" is already classified in the Asia tour calender of "U.C.I", hence International recognition in the cycling World.At approx 0600 hrs all the competitors were allowed to enter the "MET Grounds" after passing through the "Metal detector" with their cycles, after-effects of "world Terrorism".The entire ground was packed with cyclists competing under different categories, most being in the "28Kms Amateur ride".According to media reports the next day, over 9000 cyclists participated in different categories of the "Mumbai Cyclothon Races" as the organizers also had "Cycles on hire" for non-cycle owners..There were 4 different categories for common participants which were A) 28Kms Amateur Ride for men and women(Over 18 years of age) B) 15 Kms Corporate Ride C) 15 Kms Green Ride and C) 3 Kms Kids ride. The main event was the " Elite International Men's race" which covered a distance of 104Kms, the first leg of which was conducted in Nashik on Friday(11-2-2011) and won by Elia.Viviani of Italy.Both, men and women competed together as there were no prizes nor certificates on completion of the race, just a personal satisfaction of helping a cause and testing one's own physical stamina and mental strength.This year the "Dabbawalla's" were missing from the races but a lot of young children were competing in the children's race of 3 Kms.The future of cycling in India seems bright as a hobby sport and only hope that better "Cycling roads" are created in parts of Mumbai for cyclists. The "Mumbai cyclothon-2011' was partly sponsored by the "Bhujbal foundation" in partnership with "I.D Sports", a sports management firm owned by Dr Akil.Khan,the "T-shirts" and "Bib numbers" bearing their name, Shri Chaggan.Bhujbal being a prominent politician from Maharashtra.The start of the race was delayed and we were told to assemble on the "Bandra-Worli sea-link", hence a ride from "MET Grounds " to the toll gate of "Bandra-Worli sea link".It was an exhilirating feeling of seeing a huge crowd at the start gate, akin to the peloton seen in professional road races although the management of the race by the officials was chaotic to manny competitors, especially first time competing cyclists.A huge "V.I.P Stand" with "Cheer girls" and music was erected at the "Start-Finish Point" which was the toll gate of the Bandra- Worli sealink.The "28Kms amateur ride" was flagged off at approx 0745 hrs and it was a pleasant ride over the "Bandra-Worli sealink", the coast partly visible due to foggy conditions.As usual, was busy photographing/videographing the experience, my hobby and passion throughout my tours or new world experiences.Being a fitness freak i didn't find the cycling strenuous and it was a real pleasure riding like a "V.I.P" on Mumbai's roads with spectators and police keeping a watch on the contestants.My "Fomas Road King geared cycle" proved its excellent value for money , smoothly adjusting to "Gear Changes" while climbing the "Sealink Flyover" as well as negotiating the steep "Mount Mary Hill" incline, the most strenuos parts of the racing circuit.Most cyclists "walked" these steep inclines and proud to state that besides short stops for "Photography" i pedaled continuously throughout the race.I have personally cycled around Bandra numerous times in heavy vehicular traffic and today it was a real pleasure riding the roads on a preferential treatment to motorized vehicles, the ultimate cyclists passion.Saw various generations of cyclists of both sexes participating in the ride, beginning from kids with "learner support wheel bike" to an aged gentleman advertising the benifits of healthy living and healthy cycling.Tiny kids are the future of "Mumbai Cycling" while the old gentleman is proof of the health benefits of cycling in ageeing gracefully, irrespective of wealth or power.
The entire 2 laps around the race circuit was comfortably negotiated by me and my "Fomas cycle" with a few minutes of stops for photography, finally finishing the race at approx 0920 hrs,a timing of 1 hour 35 minutes, not bad at age 50.The only difficulty was my "Cycle saddle" as i found my backside(buttocks) paining due to continuous riding on the cycle saddle.Although i have ridden long distances by cycle, never a continuous ride of 28 Kms at a stretch and genuinely experienced the trauma's and difficulty's of "Tour cycling", hence the "Tour De France" is considered one of the World's toughest sport.As mentioned previously, the organization of the race for amateur contestants was chaotic and manny contestants were unaware of the laps to be completed in the various categories.The route was as follows, beginning from "Rajiv Gandhi Sea-link(Bandra-Worli)"toll-gate with a round along the sea-link then down the fly-over into Bandra main road, a left turn to "Hill Road" and straight to "Bandstand" with a u-turn before the "Taj Lands End" up the steep incline of "Mount Mary Road" onto "Bandra Reclamation" and back again onto the flyover into "Rajiv Gandhi Sealink". Termination point of the "28Kms Amateur ride" was at the "MET Ground" near Lilavati hospital, a personal satisfaction of having contested in a public International event.I was under the impression that a certificate would be awarded to successful competitors completing the race within a certain "Time Frame", an encouragement for cycle hobbyists,but, we all were just told to leave after completion of the race .Photographs, videos are memories of my first "Mumbai cyclothon-2011" participation as also for other amateur contestants.
The "INTERNATION MENS CYCLOTHON-2011"  at Bandra-Worli Sealink.

As per next days news reports the "Elite Mens International race" was delayed from 0930 to 1105 hrs and the total distance was also reduced from 108 Kms to 66kms due to "safety Reasons" of the sea-link track.Robbie.Hunter(South Africa) of "Radioshack team" and 5 times South African cyclist of the year won the race and the "Yellow Jersey" in Mumbai while the stage 1 winner in Nashik, Elia.Viviani of Italy came second.The race was ridden in the sweltering Mumbai heat due to the delay and Elia.Viviani was declared the most consistent rider winning the "Blue Jersey" as Mumbai winner Robbie .Hunter placed 4th in Nashik.
Two Internationally acclaimed Pro-tour cycling teams participated in "Tour de Mumbai-2011", the 2010 "Tour De France" winners "U.S.A Radioshack team" and Italy's "Liquigas team", besides other lesser teams.
The "International riders" were happy with both the stages of the races, experiencing countryside riding in Nashik on Friday(11-2-2011) and city riding in Mumbai on Sunday(13-2-2011).

I finally left the "MET Grounds" at approx 0945hrs and pedaled my way back home to Prabhadevi having totally cycled a distance of approx 40Kms in a span of 4 hours.On reaching home uploaded my photos onto the internet and later attended the "Mumbai horse races" at Mahalaxmi race-course in the afternoon.Well, Sunday the 13th was a lucky day for me, both at the "Mumbai Cyclothon-2011" as well as the "Mahalaxmi race-course" on horses.Touche ,Topi.
"HORSE-RIDING" and "CYCLING"  keeps a person in touch with nature in a complex Mechanized World.