More than 5,000 participate in cyclothon

As many as 5,167 cyclists from all across the country participated in the cyclothon event in four different categories on Sunday. State Finance Minister Nitin Patel flagged off the event at Vallabh Sadan, Sabarmati Riverfront, in the presence of city Mayor Asit Vora and Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra.

The event was organised under the supervision and support of Cycling Federation of India (CFI). Enthusiasm among participants from 9-80 years of age was worth appreciating. Some of the participants were even clad in the traditional maldhari attire in white flaunting red turbans among colourful safety helmets.

Apart from thousands of amateurs, more than 100 professional cyclists associated to the CFI participated in the event. "As many as 90 men and 22 women professional cyclists from across the country participated in the event and also bagged top positions in the both man and woman categories. Some of the participants and winners have also participated in Commonwealth and Asian Games," said V N Singh, assistant secretary CFI.

The event witnessed representation of another cycling association — Ahmedabad Bicycling Club (ABC). Around 100-odd professional cyclists participated and also won in various categories. "ABC has four winners in century and half century race in both men and women categories. The initiative taken by the AMC is a very progressive attempt in spreading awareness among residents," said ABC president Dr Harsh Shah.

"I have already set a half-century record and about to set another," said Amita Amin, 50-year-old woman participating in the half-century category. Maximum number and variety in participation was witnessed in the dream ride category with 4,214 cyclists, both men and women, college and school students, workers of diamond associations, maldhari community and other mill workers.

Star participants

Suman Nehra, wife of Ahmedabad District Collector Vijay Nehra and mother of two, 7 and 3 years old, children not only successfully completed half-century category but also bagged third position. Working in the finance sector, she recalled how it was her first attempt into a sports competition after Class VIII. A cycling enthusiast, she daily commutes to her office on her bicycle covering a distance of 20 kms. Supported by her husband and even 7-year-old son, they had left the event even before the announcement for winners list least expecting her name to figure in the list. "Later, when we reached home, I received a call from municipal commissioner informing me that I have won third place in half-century," she said.

Ashish Bhatia, ADGP, special director of Anti-Corruption Bureau, participated in the half-century category. Bhatia attributed the motivation behind this participation to his colleague, Atul Karwal who was in the organising committee. "Though this was my first event, I remember participating in a police unity tour in the year 2009, the experience that I still cherish," he said. Along with Bhatia, three other senior police officers including A K Singh, ADGP administration, P S Bisht, joint managing director Police Housing Corporation and Samsher Singh, IG Gandhinagar participated in the event.

Manjula Pooja Shroff, founder director of Calorx participated in half-century category. Calling it pure fitness enthusiasm, it is her first cycling event though she has taken into cycling for last six months. "I completed the race within the stipulated time period which was two hours. With a competition from professional cyclists from Pune and all other places, this was more than anything else for me," she said.

Oldest participant

A 77-year-old gynaecologist from Vadodara, Dr Bhagwati Ojha, was a motivation for the participants in the event, who has shun her four wheeler and taken to cycling for the last 12 years and covered distances as long as from Kolkata till Kanyakumari on her bicycle. Participating in the half-century category, in the absence of separate categories for senior citizens, she showed no sign of uneasiness competing with participants of even half her age.

Winners

Century (man): Gurmeet Singh

Century (woman): Geetu Raj

Half-Century (man): Manpreet Singh Kalsi

Half-Century (woman): Aarti Patvardhan

Fixie General (man): Vikramsingh Fatehsingh

Fixie General (woman): Pragna Mohan

Century (man - above 45): Prashant Tikde

Half-Century (man - above 45): Samir Shah

Half-Century (man - above 45): Anjalee Bhajinge

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