A Complete Guide to Cycling
The very first thing that we imagine when the word ‘cycling’ is said is probably a sturdy mountain bike, cycling shorts, a helmet and visors! Many might also relate it to an eco-friendly way of getting about, while others might just equate it to a solid workout regimen. All said and done, cycling is one of the greatest professional sports, which requires a lot of stamina and muscle power. It is a great recreational activity to do!
In a Nutshell
Cycle Sport is a physical activity that is competitive in nature using bicycles. It includes different categories such as road bicycle racing, mountain biking, time trialling, cyclo cross, track cycling, cycle speedway and BMX. There are other cycle sports that are non-racing and not competitive in nature such as cycle polo, mountain bike trials, artistic cycling and freestyle BMX.
Cycling has indeed come a long way from being an Indian common man’s transport to the hobby of the rich. It has now evolved into a professional competitive sport in India with the Cycling Federation of India pioneering cycling events and promoting it in all forms. The country now has a robust competitive cycling community.
India has various cycling facilities such as tracks and velodromes at par with international standards which have boosted the sport and enhanced the competitive worth of Indian cyclists. There are national level coaches who are deputed for supervising the Indian Cycling Teams including the provision of a foreign coach. National championships are being held for separate age groups on a regular basis.
There have been three cyclists who have been honoured by the Government of India with the prestigious Arjuna Award for their achievement in cycling at both the national and international levels: Mr. Amar Singh, Mrs. Minata Mahapatra and Ms. Armin Arethna.
What is Cycling?
Bicycle races are an Olympic sporting event and apart from that, there are many countries, particularly those in Europe, that host bicycling races. The countries that are particularly devoted to this sport include Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark and Belgium. The other countries that feature in the list of countries devoted to bike racing are the United States, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Australia.
Just like other competitive sports, cycling is of the same nature, in fact, even more. The difference between winning and losing are usually seconds or milliseconds. Cycling requires a lot of fitness and a high level of endurance. Although cycle racing might appear very simple, but there are various tactics that are employed based on the aerodynamic benefits of drafting. Cycling has been regularly featured at the Olympics since 1860 in Athens, Greece. In 1896, there were 6 cycling events at the Olympics. Cycling first made its way into the Asian Games in 1951.
A Brief Overview and History of the Sport
- The first ever competitive bicyle race was held on 31st May, 1968 in Parc de Saint-Clud in Paris. It was a 1200 meter race that was won by James Moore, a British expat who had rode upon bicycle crafted out of wood with iron tires. This early bicycle is up on display at a museum in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England.
- The Union Cycliste Internationale is the world governing body for cycling and organises competitive cycling events at the international level. This body was founded by the United States, Italy, Switzerland, France and Belgium on 14th April, 1900 to replace the International Cycling Association, as they countries had differences with Great Britain over a host of issues. The UltraMarathon Cycling Association is the body that governs the various ultra-distance cycling races.
- India has a history of cycling that dates back to 1938. Although cycling is a professional sport, it is also one of the most recreational forms of sporting and a great way to keep fit. It is slowly growing into a major fitness sport as many states are coming up with their own cycling associations and groups. In India, cycling is controlled and managed by the Cycling Federation of India that governs the sport and looks after the national and international competitions.
- Cycling in India was introduced as a sport by Shri Janki Das in the mid 1930s. Shri Janki Das not only has the distinction of introducing cycling but also that of bringing India to the international arena when he was the only Indian cyclist who took part in the British Empire Games in Sydney, Australia in 1938. Because of his pioneering efforts Indian Cycling was then affiliated to the National Cycling Federation and then to the National Cyclists Union of England. A few years later, Janki Dass joined hands with another accomplished cyclist Sohrab H. Bhoot and created the National Cyclists Federation of India in 1946 and this body was then affiliated to the Union Cyclists International.
- The Cycling Federation of India then sent cycling teams to major sporting events such as the Olympics, the Asian Games and so on. The Indian Cycling Team first participated in the World Cycling Championships held in Switzerland in 1946 and then at the London Olympics in 1948 as well as at the World Cycling Championships in Amsterdam and Brussels in 1946 and 1949 respectively. Cycling was first introduced in the Asian Games in New Delhi in 1951, where many Indian cyclists won medals. Apart from that Indian cyclised also took part in various Road Races and International Championships between 1951-1955. Amar Singh Sokhi won a silver in the 4000m Individual Pursuit in the Asian Cycling Championship in Japan in 1962.
- Mountain biking is another popular cycling sport, which is trending in India as well. MTB Himachal, is a hardcore endurance event, which has been happening for the past 6 years and is organised by the Himalayan Adventure Sports & Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), an NGO. This competition has a lot of national and international participation which includes candidates from the Indian Air Force, Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police as well as individual mountain biking enthusiasts from cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Pune and Bangalore. On the lines of this sporting event, the Sikkim Government also initiated its very own biking race with a prize that is the highest in Southeast Asia- making it a coveted event. The second edition of the Sikkim biking race saw nearly 48 international participants.
- Apart from that, India also has a tradition of various road cycle tours that are non-commercial and non-competitive in nature. The Tour of Nilgiris is one such event that lasts for nearly ten days and covers 1000 kilometers. This is actually the very first Day Touring Cycle Ride of India and was started in December 2008 with the sole purpose of increasing awareness of Nilgiri biodiversity and also to encourage bicycling as a fitness option.
- However, this soon grew into something big and now has a robust riding community that chalks out plans, formulates routes and also organises sponsor. Their purpose is to popularise cycling as an eco-friendly and sustainable travelling medium. The Tour of the Nilgiris earlier had 40 riders in its first edition but now it boasts of 100+ since 2013. The routes of the tour have become tougher as they allow the cyclists to arrive at their optimal performance and test their endurance while traversing through the rich Nilgiri biodiversity located in the three southern Indian states- Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- Randonneuring is also known as Audax in Brazil, the UK and Australia and is a long distance cycling sport that has originated from audax cycling. Randonneuring requires the riders to try our courses that are 200 km or more. The course goes through various checkpoints at certain distances. The riders are supposed to complete the race within the given time limit, and all of the riders are recognised equally, irrespective of whether they finished first or last. Riders have the option to travel in groups or individually.
- A randonneuring event is also known as a randonee or a brevet and a person who has at least completed a 200 km event is called a randonneur. The Audax Club Parisien is the governing body for this long distance cycling sport and it also works worldwide through Les Randonneurs Mondiaux.
- The Tour de India that was held in 2013 has been the biggest cycling event in the country and was also listed in the international race calendar of the Union Cycliste Internationale. It is expected that the second edition of the Tour de India would have 150 participants- both national and foreign cyclists. This multi-city event will be held in Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai and there would be six participating Indian teams which will be selected by the Cycling Federation of India. There will be ten foreign teams at this internationally acclaimed cycling event. The earlier UCI-recognised event held in India has been the Tour de Delhi- Cyclothon 2010.
Rules and Basic Requirements for Cycling
- The main objective of the cycling is basically to ensure that you are riding without obstructing the course of another purposefully. Each cycling event has its own length to cover within a certain timeframe.
- A biker must conserve his or her energy till the last third of the race. This sport required a high stamina and endurance due to the sheer muscle power involved.
- You should know your competition so that you are aware of what you need to achieve to win against the best cyclists in the competition.
- Employ a skilful manner of ‘attacking’ or ‘counter attacking’.
- Assess the wind direction so that you do not get caught up in a draft.
- You cannot unnecessarily delay the start of a race. This can get you penalised.
- In case a competitor’s bicycle becomes damaged or suffers a mechanical mishap, the competitor may run with or carry the bicycle across the finishing line, but must not interfere with any other competitor.
- A dead heat must be declared when two or more competitors or teams cross the finish line simultaneously.
- A tie must be declared in a race when aggregate points and count-back systems result in two or more competitors or teams being equal or when two or more competitors or teams record identical times.
- When a dead heat or tie is declared for a place in a race, the competitors or teams involved must be declared joint winners of that place.
- The Finish of a race must be judged from the tip of the front wheel of the bicycle at the point of the tangent with a vertical plane extended above the finishing line except where specifically provided for a particular race.
- A competitor must not deviate from the course prescribed for a race unless specifically ordered to do so by a Commissaire or by a Police Officer.
- Every competitor and official must observe the local traffic laws and all cycling rules at all times.
- When a competitor suffers a recognised mishap during a race, the competitor may obtain and use a replacement wheel or bicycle from a support vehicle. Spare wheels and bicycles must be obtained from authorised support vehicles only.
- For regular cycling events it is important to wear a pair of cycling shorts or chamois, technical pads for support to the arms and wrists.
- Also required are a cycling bib and jersey made out of quick-dry fabric, a biking helmet, a sturdy road bike and cycling shoes.
Who are the Governing Bodies for Cycling?
The Cycling Federation of India was the joint effort of Sohrab Bhoot and Janki Dass who joined hands to bring cycling to the masses in India and formed the Cycling Federation of India, which is the country’s only governing body that organises national events and trains its teams for international cycling events.
On an International Level
There are many emerging cycling stars from India who are slowly making a mark in the international arena. Deborah Herold is the first Indian female cyclist who has been ranked number 4 internationally in 2015.
Olympics– This international event is held every 4 years. Till the year 2015, the Indian Hockey team has won 8 gold medals, 1 Silver medal and 2 Bronze medals.
Track Asia Cup– India finished third at the Track Asia Cup 2015 with 11 medals
Asian Games: In the Asian Games held in New Delhi in 1951, Indian cyclists won 4 silver and one bronze medal.
South Asian Games: India earned three medals- a gold, a silver and a bronze – at the South Asian Games 2016
On a National Level
National Road Cycling Championship
National Track Cycling Championship
Tour de India
- Deborah Herold: This wonder girl from India hails from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. She is currently world number 4 and has etched a name for herself in the cycling world and has made India proud as she has attained an international level. In 2004, Deborah’s family was displaced in a tsunami while she had to spend an entire day on a tree to protect herself from the calamity- Deborah was only 9 then. She started life afresh and with a lot of dedication and training got foray into the Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Andaman. Her outstanding achievement includes winning 4 gold medals at the Track Asia Cup Cycling Championship 2014.
- Bikram Singh Bikram Singh earned a Bronze medal at the Track Asia Cup in 2010 in Japan. Born in Imphal on the 3rd of February, 1985, this cyclist has done the country proud with his track cycling. Singh was a state level football player before he took up cycling. During the 5th National Games in Manipur, he took the onus of familiarising the youth with cycling and increasing the visibility of the sport. Singh trained hard in cycling and had the support of his family for the same. He first participated in the National Championship in Trivandrum in the U-16 category. Eventually he got a job with the Indian Railways and then moved on to BSNL. Singh has won 30 Gold medals, 15 Silver and 16 Bronze from his national and international achievements.
- Amrit Singh is another cycling star who hails from Patiala, Punjab. He was born on 1st October, 1991and was one of the members of the Indian Squad that represented the country for the first time ever at the World Track Cycling Championship in Australia in 2012. Amrit started cycling since the age of 8 and was immensely drawn towards the sport as he observed cyclists training daily at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala (NSNIS). He went on to participate at the National Championship in the U-12 category in 2004. He has won 34 gold, 11 silver and 3 bronze National and continental medals till date. He has represented the country twice at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games and 6 times at the Asian Cycling Championship and Asia Cup.
On the whole, cycling is a sport that is fast catching up in India, when it comes to popularity amongst the masses. The urban cities have their own well-developed Cycling Associations which organise events on a periodic basis. The strength and endurance required in this sport is unparalleled and therefore requires high fitness levels. If you know some interesting facts about cycling or have a question about this sport, then do feel free to ask us in the comment section below! At Yopedia, we have experts who can counsel you on archery and provide you with trainers and instructors who can guide you in this sport.