Whether it is to stay fit or to protect environment from further pollution, cycling is the best option. Many people start cycling just for the love of riding; but when love turns into passion, they join cycling clubs and explore new dimensions of the sport. That’s how randonneurs came into existence. With the emergence of a number of cycle/bike clubs across the country, randonneuring, the long-distance cycling sport, started gaining more support.
Audax India Randonneurs is one of the official randonneuring associations in India, which is affiliated to Audax Club Parisien. Prominent cycling club Paravur Bikers Club and its riders are regular participants in the randonneuring events organised across the country. They have also won many accolades that can put any club to shame. Seven riders from Kerala made headlines recently as they successfully completed a 1400-km race organised by Noida Randonneurs. The riders were Galin Abraham, Reghu Ram, Ullas, Anandakrishnan and Shinaj from Paravur Bikers Club, Nadeer from Malappuram and Lijo Joy from Thrissur. Galin Abraham, one of the most recoganisable faces in randonneuring, says he and his co-cyclists have not participated in a tougher race.
“In long-distance races, the race course can be difficult as the participants have to ride through different terrains and it could be as challenging as any other adventure sports. We were supposed to start our ride from Noida, then cross Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and reach Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh, and ride all the way back to Greater Noida. We have been participating in randonneuring for the past four years, that is since the inception of Paravur Bikers Club. We knew the race would be hard,” says Ullas, who is one of the founder members of the club. “This ride is quite demanding because of the distance, time and altitude. We have been preparing for this for the past few months. It really tested our stamina.”
After every 175 km, the riders had a halt within a designated time frame. But they were not supposed to go sightseeing as they needed to reserve the stamina for the ride. “Sightseeing was not possible. Even though we were riding through one of the most scenic routes in northern India, we were completely focused on the bike and the road,” added Ullas.
Galin Abraham’s experience really helped the team during the course. He holds the rare record of completing four brevets (event) — 200 km, 300 km, and 400 km - twice in one season, all within the specified number of hours. He has also completed four Super Series this season, and is one of the very few riders to do so in the country.
Galin says the emergence of bikers clubs has helped to make the sport more popular among common people. He says group cycling and cycling clubs can improve one’s cycling skills. “Sometimes, cycling on your own is great, but being part of a cycling club is the best way to go riding.” After completing the event, the team is officially qualified to participate in the world famous long-distance cycling event Paris–Brest–Paris, to be held in Paris in 2019.