Thursday, November 19, 2009

India: Environmentalists to Campaign ‘Ride A Cycle’

India: Environmentalists to Campaign ‘Ride A Cycle’
Syed Ali Mujtaba

As the campaign for climate change is gaining momentum and talks to cut down carbon emission is reaching its crescendo, a humble attempt is being made in southern India to push the cause of the good old peddle bicycle.

Come December 2009 and 70 cyclists will set off on a 900-km-long tour from Bangalore to the beautiful Nilgiris Mountains in Tamil Nadu, to promote the cause of environmental concern.

The Nilgiris are popularly known as the Blue Mountains in the Western Ghats of India. The Nilgiris are a set of 24 peaks located in the western parts of Tamil Nadu, and borders Karnataka and Kerala.

The eight-day tour of Nilgiris will beginning December 15 and pass through Bangalore, Mysore, Hassan, Mercara, Irupu, Sultanbathery and Ooty. The entire stretch is soaking in not just in natural beauty but also has rich dose of heritage, culture and cuisine.

'The success of the tour of Nilgiris in 2008 has ensured that more people want to go out for cycling creating awareness about the multiple benefits of commuting by the most humble mode of transport - the cycle says Ravi Ranjan (RR), founding trustee of the ‘Ride A Cycle Foundation’ - the NGO organizing the event.

As compared to the first edition of the tour of Nilgiris in December 2008 that saw 56 participants, this year 70 participants have been selected out of 300 entries received to take part in the event. Those selected come from various parts of the country, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and even from the US.

The group will cover an average distance of 120 km a day. 'On some days because of the sharp inclines, the riding will be tough. But the challenge is worth taking up. Most people will cycle for about 7 to 10 hours a day, starting each morning at 6 a.m.,' said R.R.

'No one can ride beyond 4 p.m. Once it is 4 p.m., riders must wait where they are for the sweeper truck to pick them up and take them to the end point.’

Giving details of the kind of assistance being provided to the participants R.R said, a support team of 20 people will also be on the tour. A doctor, a fitness consultant, and a fully equipped vehicle to manage emergencies will accompany the cyclists during the event,' he said.

'In addition, every single hospital and police station along the route is being alerted about the tour. They would be intimated again a day before the cyclist will be riding through their neighborhood. This way the hospitals will be prepared for an emergency,' added R.R.

The journey will give riders not only a great deal of adventure and view of the breathtaking natural beauty of southern India but a chance to promote the cause of the environmental concern, says the Foundation.

‘Ride A Cycle Foundation’ is a Bangalore-based not-for-profit organization advocating the cause of environmentally friendly sustainable mode of transportation.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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