In 1817, through german ingenuity, the ‘Draisine’ was a contraption of two wheels used as a mode of transport using balance and man power. Even though the oldest reference to a bicycle can be found in the 1500s sketch by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, who studied his art under Leonardo Da Vinci himself, we still are unable to determine its timeline from the invention of the wheel. Since then bicycles have been torn down and rebuild in structure over the years and across continents. From the Velocipede and the penny farthing of the old days to the recumbent and the hybrids of our generation.
Today, in a world with a wide magnitude of transportations conveniently available and the lack of time to wind up the day, cycling has become more of a hobby or a recreational cardio one does to keep in shape. Not to discount its economic importance in some rural parts, but bicycling is an activity of an age, which we do out of choice and not necessity. And even the purpose is variable to age. Children learn it as a skill to show off tricks amongst their peers to the extent on BMX titles, while older adults find it a recluse from the hustle bustle of the fast paced world they left behind post retirement and yet there is an age group that cannot be capped as it bridges these two by dozens of decades. These are people with whom, conversations may make you feel like your IQ on the topic dropped 50 points and your head spin on their appetite. The terms they use, itself will make you doubt your vocabulary.
Like any hobby evolves its complexities over time, its lure of its unknown aspects builds a community that acts as a university of its study and practice. In today’s date, there are over thousands of international cycling events with millions of participants from across the globe. These athletes spend generous amounts of time and money on training and equipments to venture their skill and endurance on the tracks. Even though there are thousands of riders in each event, over 90% already know they won’t win, however, their goal is to get their best performance time in the event conditions and to achieve a better rank and timing each event onward.
Like every fraternity, cycling also has a number of clubs across such as Audux, UCI, CNG etc. To add authenticity and determine guidelines for various events, they stress on proper gear for safety of riders such as a proper helmet and gloves with lights front and back. With high performance bicycles entering the market place and many riders pushing themselves on dangerous tracks, it is important to note that even bicycle manufacturers are putting up “Helmet must” stickers on their product.
Adding to these, some even push reflector jackets and riding glasses with the purchase. And there is still more. UCI has even made standards as per which a racing bicycle should comply. A number of other accessories makes riding more fun for the technically inclined. A smart watch may not satisfy these creatures. No, they would prefer to have a cyclocomputer attached to their bicycle. And no , this is not a made up word. It actually exists and displays an odometer and a speedometer along with other statistics that show you, your performance. There is a gamut of mechanical and technical devices that are considered before making a bicycle. Probably why manufacturers decided to make their bicycles of alloys such as aluminum alloys, titanium and carbon fiber bringing the lightest version of the entire contraption to just a little over 6 kg, which you can afford at Rs8,25,000 if you like. Yes a car or maybe two would come in that price, but cycling is far more than just what money can buy, is what a cyclist would have you believe. An average avid rider would spend anywhere from Rs 50,000 to Rs.4,00,000 on just getting started and the maintenance could land him a pretty penny too as most of these bicycles have special parts imported depending on the brand you buy.
Bicycles have come a long way from simple contractions to complicated, hi-tech, track specific machines with skilled personnel operating them.Shifting gears on an incline, A free axel with fresh bearings and clean cogs and a road tube. To really understand how these can influence a ride would require that you go and get one and start. Apart from all the fitness and technical jargons and beyond the endurance and strength training, there is a window of certain simplicity in the ride, that the open air and road seem to clear thoughts away and let you connect with your self and your surroundings on a personal level. There are many reasons to just start at whatever age you are in. The company is good and the energy after the ride is great. And other perks of long distance riding is that you can eat whatever you want a and its good for the environment too.Happy Bicycle day. Ride safe.
Abhishek Sehgal, based in Kolkata takes part regularly in marathons and is a cycling enthusiast
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