It was almost half a century ago that Freddie Mercury sang about wanting to ride his bicycle. Now, perhaps for the fi rst time ever, Mumbai residents are beginning to understand why the Queen frontman strained his vocal cords so determinedly about something as basic as taking his two-wheeler out for a spin. Santacruz-based Nishant Shah, who invested in a bike around mid-May, says the exercise one gets is just a sideshow, the real act being, “the serenity one enjoys while riding.” Shah, a senior partner at a leading law fi rm, has been riding his new bicycle across
If that isn’t enough to motivate you, perhaps it would help to know that when researchers at King’s College
The health reasons
Dr Farah Ingale, director of internal medicine at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, says the activity has “Only advantages, no disadvantages.” Among these, she lists: it strengthens the muscles, joints and bones, increases flexibility, is a great cardio workout and works out the lower part of the body in particular; cycling contributes to a feeling of well-being and is a stress reliever; it’s a great way to lose weight, especially around the belly and thighs. “It also shapes up the calves and improves posture,” Dr Ingale adds, pointing out that it’s best to start slow, if you haven’t cycled for years, or are just starting out.
“With moderate intensity, over half an hour, you’d burn about 300 calories,” she adds, wholeheartedly recommending the exercise for all age-groups. Additionally, Champ Alreja, who lives in Santacruz (W), appreciates the sense of community the activity fosters.
More than just exercise
Alreja, 38, is an avid
Dusting off his 21-gear mountain bike — which he used religiously from 2009 to 2011 when his office was located close to the tennis court — he coordinated with a couple of friends to start cycling around the city thrice a week. It was a great way to hang out and get some muchneeded exercise, without worrying about breaching the six-foot boundary — distance between participants goes with the turf. But Alreja, who is the cofounder of preventive healthcare app GoQii, and his friends, discovered there are other perks besides, like the potential of discovering “hidden gems” in the city. “This Sunday, for example, while cycling through
For new convert, Khar-based Chandni Advani, who purchased her first bicycle sometime in May, the hour-long bike ride she enjoys thrice a week, along with her husband, makes for a refreshing change from sitting at home all day. Advani, 32, is a digital marketer who also runs a homebased jewellery business. Before the lockdown came into effect, her preferred form of exercise was yoga, “but during lockdown, it became difficult to motivate myself and follow yoga tutorials online,” she says, sharing that her husband Vishal, who has been cycling regularly for a year, encouraged her to get pedalling.
The couple cycles together, in and around Bandra and Carter Road, covering about five kilometres a day. “With household chores and office work, all keeping you homebound, the cycling break really helps take your mind off all stressors,” says Advani, who appreciates that the activity affords a reasonable workout, “but doesn’t leave you exhausted, as you go at your own pace”.
Rain or shine
Stopping his cycle at the side of the road to speak to Mirror, Shah, who’s on his way to pick up groceries, adds that as long as one uses all the necessary safety gear, weather is no bar. “My ambition was a little diluted by the rains at first, but it’s such fun to cycle even when it’s raining,” he says, highlighting that aside from protecting one from injury, “a helmet makes the drivers of other vehicles take you seriously”.
Conscious of how much air quality has improved these last traffic-free months, the lawyer, who has run some six half-marathons in previous years, is all in favour of more people using bikes to ply short distances. But he’s also acutely aware that the city’s infrastructure simply doesn’t support the culture of cycling. Advani hopes this will change. “I wish the city would get some dedicated cycling tracks,” she says. “If there’s better road discipline, I’ll definitely stick to it even when life returns to normal.”