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25 Aug 2019, Edition - 1503, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Bicycle Tourism: An intimate way of travelling

Indrani Thakurata

Bengalru: When my friend Shantanu Ghatak, from the Ad world came back from his holiday in Kerala, he wasn’t talking about anything else but Kerela. But he wasn’t talking about the most ‘talking points ‘ in Kerala. He had his own tales, his own discoveries that he was sharing with us. And his stories were so personal, that it seemed like he owned it in a peculiar way, that none of us, who have visited Kerala before could relate to. He was talking about long winded roads, some spectacular huts, some lovely people and meals at a locals house. He was also talking about the trees that sheltered some of the paths and the coconuts that paved the way. And that’s the magic of discovering a city through cycling.

“The journey started when three of us left one morning for a 100 km ride on hired cycles to Cauvery Fishing Camp (off Bangalore), we came back surprised, out of our comfort zones, enthralled by the outdoors and moved by the simple living in the countryside. We had ridden out of the city for 60 km and were sitting under a statue of Mahatma Gandhi discussing the ride till then. Then we realized for some bicycle is a utility, for others it is a revelation of human potential and endurance, and for many more it is a new and unique experience – a perfect way to discover the heart of the country,” says Pankaj Mangal, Founder, Art of Bicycle Trips.

People are experimenting with travel and needless to say bicycle tourism is on the rise. It adds a unique perspective to travel and it is an environmental friendly way of travelling. “We have witnessed gradual growth over the last few years. People have started demanding more private itineraries with their own groups to Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Kerala. Family cycling vacations are also on rise as it provides a perfect family bonding opportunity. Millennials prefer to join more of a group as it allows them to meet new people and many of them prefer more of hardcore cycling vacation to places like Sikkim and Ladakh. Generally people opt for 4 to 8 days of tours. We are in this business for more than 6 years now and have our own operations centers in Udaipur, Kochi and Bangalore,” Pankaj adds.

Adding to this, Pawan Upadhyay of India of Bicycle says, “Yes, we have seen a rise in the number of people wanting to travel and discover places through riding on a bicycle. Most travellers call this a liberating experience, and therefore someone who has done it once,will like to do it again. We make itineraries that would suit a traveller. We always work with a backup vehicle for emergency situation.”

Talking about their strength, Pankaj says, “we specialize in crafting intimate cycling holidays and multi-sport adventures to many regions of India and Asia at large. Your itinerary includes exclusive biking or subgroup of activities: biking, hiking, kayaking, yoga, rafting, bird watching and horseback riding. Our well-researched, hand-crafted itineraries are designed to reveal the region’s diverse culture, heritage and countryside so that you can experience the destination from a local perspective.”

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