Bandra's cycling evangelist, shares tips for Mumbai's young cyclists
There is something about the wind in your hair and speed that gives an incomparable high. If your child knows how to ride a bicycle, it is a year-long, happy activity that can be nurtured to the fullest
Cycling Sutras (Outdoors)
There is something about the wind in your hair and speed that gives an incomparable high. If your child knows how to ride a bicycle, it is a year-long, happy activity that can be nurtured to the fullest. However in metros, especially Mumbai, even roads earmarked for cycling have been taken over and railroaded into car parks. Where does one cycle with kids? Faisal Thakur, Bandra's cycling evangelist, shares tips and recommendations for Mumbai's young cyclists.
5 Kid-Safe Cycling Routes
1 Carter Road
<<Short route (2.5km): Start from Joggers park, head towards Café Coffee Day and loop back.
<<Long route (approx. 8km): This route loops around Carter Road and Bandstand. It takes 30 minutes, and kids could make a couple of stops. The first can be at Café Coffee Day to ensure everyone is together; then turn back and head to the end of Carter Road that is opposite Otters Club. This can be the second stopover to check if all are in a pack. From here, head to Perry Road where you take a right at D'Monte Park; now, head towards St Paul's Road, where you pass Holy Family Hospital. At the signal, take a right towards A1 Bakery. A little ahead of St Andrew's Church, halt to gauge the traffic and take a right towards Bandstand.
2 Marine Drive
Marine Drive is a long stretch (10-km loop), from Charni Road up to NCPA, and back. On this route, you can have at least two stops:
<< NCPA end point. While returning, you can decide on a stop where everyone can group together and then set off on the ride
3 Five Gardens, Wadala
Start at Mancheriji Joshi Road and ride around the Five Gardens as it makes for a pleasant, safe ride.
4 Shivaji Park, Dadar
If you opt to go riding with the kids, choose the timings wisely. Early mornings are the best time to start. It can get a bit dangerous once traffic increases. The inside roads are safer than the outer ones that are dotted by Mayor's Bungalow. Stay on the extreme left of the road and ensure that you and the kids are riding in a single file — one behind the other. Riding side-by-side occupies a lot of space, and should be avoided on this route.
5 SGNP, Borivali
Reach the gate early morning; weekdays are preferable to beat the holiday rush. Hire no-frills bicycles from the stall near the ticket counter and cycle on the path that leads to Kanheri Caves.
Safety Tips: Dos and Don'ts
<<Wherever there is traffic or the roads are narrow, kids need to ride in a single straight line.
<<Ensure that kids maintain a certain speed without riding too fast, so that they don't have to brake urgently, in case they have to slow down. Also, they should avoid jay riding — where they turn all of a sudden to the left or right — thereby disturbing vehicular traffic. When kids are riding in a straight line, motorists also have better judgment.
<<Carry glucose biscuits, chikki or energy bars and bottled water. This helps when you take kids out for early morning rides on an empty stomach. Water must be had in small sips and not gulps, as frequently as every 15 minutes of riding time. Once they are done, wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes before they drink a full glass of water. Avoid eating a lot in between a ride as the muscles are focussed on the physical activity and can cramp up if a child eats a large meal.
How To Choose A Bike
Thakur believes that Indian parents tend to buy bikes for their kids that will last out their entire childhood. The result: a big or heavy cycle which a child can barely manage. Here are a few pointers:
1 Buy a light bike. Avoid one with too many components, like a double suspension cycle with its brakes. The lighter the bike, the more your child will ride it.
2 The more the number of components, the more expensive it gets. If you are buying a bike with many components and it is cheap, its quality is cheaper, and you will end up with frequent maintenance visits. A bicycle in the range of R15,000 and R20,000 is ideal for 10- to 15-year-olds. For seven- to 10-year-olds, smaller cycles like BMX cost under R10,000.
Checkist For Cycle Owners
<<If the bike has gears, check if they are in working condition.
<< Check for air pressure in the tyres. Reduced air pressure drags the bicycle, and you will be slower than others, after working harder.
<< Ensure brakes are in a good condition and the pads are not worn out.
<<If you are doing an early morning or late-night ride, use proper lights.
<< For safety and visibility, wear snugly fitted helmets. Remember, when you wear a helmet you are also more visible to motorists.
If your child hasn’t cycled in a while, avoid going on long rides. This could lead to riding discomfort as he/she will feel the stress of half the body weight on certain muscles and making it an uncomfortable ride. Head for a long ride after you make it a routine.
Faisal Thakur is organising a children’s special cycling event on Saturday, January 27, at Carter Road.
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