We’ve heard of couples enjoying long drives, but what about long rides? This valentine’s day meet 7 couples from all over India who ride together, from high-level athletes to everyday couples.
1. The Tandem Couple: Sanat Rath and Pramita Mishra, Bangalore
“Riding a tandem bike is like marriage, communication being the key to success.”
Pramita first saw Sanat on Facebook. In his profile photo, he was posing with a terrific fat bike and his cover photo showed a tandem bike. And lo behold! One year later Pramita was married to Sanat and the co-owner of the tandem bike she’d seen in the cover photo.
“Tandem cycling needs a lot of synchronisation and communication. To me, riding a tandem bike is like marriage, communication being the key to success. Ask for help when needed, and pedal extra hard for your spouse when they feel like they just can’t go any further.”
Sanat and Pramita became the first married Indian couple to complete a 200 km BRM on a tandem bike, and are famously known as the Tandem Couple!
2. Home Team: Ernesto Alvares and Nisha Madgavkar, Panjim, Goa
Ernesto and Nisha run a couple of budget hotels in Goa. “At home, we had a 21-speed Hero MTB cycle at home that Nisha used to explore the surrounding villages. She’d ride 8 km and come home feeling sore.
She then started cycling on a borrowed Firefox, and amped up her game further with an indoor trainer at home. Soon she decided she needed a better bike and we invested in the cheapest high-quality bike we could find – a Giant Defy. Then to keep her company I too ‘needed’ a road bike.”
Ernesto and Nisha started riding together on weekends. On weekdays, however, they would take turns, riding on alternate days, about 30km a day, and then rush home to bathe the kids and get them ready for school. What a perfect partnership!
And you know what… it doesn’t end there. Nisha went on to win the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in the 40-44 age category in Colombo!
3. When Hari Met Vicki: Hari Menon and Vicki Nicholson, Bangalore
“Every early morning and weekend is spent with the person you love, doing what you love.”
When Hari met Vicki, he was the cyclist and she a yogi and equestrian. Her interest in cycling was triggered when she dropped Hari off at the start-line of the Tour of Nilgiris in 2010. Seeing this, Hari bought her a hybrid bike. “That year she joined me in the local racing circuit in Bangalore… and she began winning things.” The next year Vicki beat all but 6 men at TFN.
“My favourite memory is of her blasting past me on the long Ooty climb, then almost slowing to a stop when she saw I was struggling, and asking if she should pace me! I was, ‘Are you mad? Hit it!’
It took me a while, but I can now stay with her when she turns on the gas. I’d say the loveliest things about being married to a cyclist are:
- We plan all our big holidays around cycling, sometimes with races, always with lots of big mountains to go up and down.
- No need to hide the cost of the bike. In fact hers is fancier!
- We’re in the same ballpark on pace and climbing, can shout at each other when it’s not going well and also ride agreeably hard together when it is! And that is truly priceless.”
4. Tried and Tested: Pankaja Date and Shashikant Vishwakarma, Mumbai
Shashikant works at IIT Bombay while Pankaja is an Audio-Video Specialist. They met when Shashikant saw a photograph of her riding in New Zealand, on a dating app. It was not long before they were cycling together. “I had always ridden alone,” he says and this was the beginning of a real bond. “In normal circumstances we would have never crossed paths … it was pure luck!”says Shashikant.
“I even had to go through a test as in the ancient times to earn her respect and that was the SGNP (Sanjay Gandhi National Park) climb in Mumbai which I managed somehow and soon we were cycling in BRMs, races and charity rides together. It became even more interesting when we would finish our ride and then trek in forts or caves and soon we knew that we were meant to be together. Looking back, cycling got us together. A huge thanks to cycling and the fantastic community around it.”
5. On Morning Dates: Beena and Rahul Vala, Mumbai
“We started cycling four years ago, motivated by our son. We’d send him on rides and then follow him as we couldn’t leave the 12-year-old alone on highways. After a few such rides we started cycling too!” says Rahul.
“We usually start at 5am after eating winter special Gujju food items called Gundar Pak and Addadiya, and also dates dipped in ghee. For tea we have marked a few great stops on our ride route. Sometimes we plan a ride just to have a cup of tea and then return home.
Together we’ve cycled to Sewri, Juhu beach, Gorai beach and completed century rides. We also cycle with Ghatkopar Cyclists Club, and many times with our kids – Shubham and Kevin.
I believe the best way to move ahead in this hectic city life is to spend some good time with your wife and cycle together.”
6. Making Time for Each Other: Vandhana and Akhilesh Challani, Chennai
Vandhana and Akhilesh have been riding regularly for 3 years with their group WCCG in Chennai. “At the start, our main motive was our health. Now, we feel great when many people call us motivators. My husband used to be very busy with work and me with house work; we could not give time to each other. And that’s when we decided to cycle together in the mornings and spend good quality time with each other.” says Vandhana.
She adds “When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
7. Winning Formula by Cycling Mathematicians: Sonia and Deep Taneja, Sonipat, Haryana
Sonia and Deep Taneja, both Mathematics teachers, run a school in Sonipat, Haryana. “One day Deep and I randomly thought we should try and cycle today. That day we ended up doing 28km but it was painful and we decided that’s it, no more. But then in our gym group everyone decided to buy cycles for fun.
After 6 months I took part in a cycle race in Sonipat, won a cycle worth Rs 15000, and my husband bought a Btwin Rockrider 520 as well. So we started again. I realised I had good strength and could do this. We did the Sonipat to Panipat route many times. I also won a number of races in Delhi, and got a Rider License from CFI to take part in national events and train under coaches from Indira Gandhi Stadium.
Deep always supports me and always comes along with me in any event. I even won an international race in Thailand just because of him. He always motivates me to try new things in fitness.”
And that’s it, stories to put you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. So, what are you waiting for? Get out and ride… together!
As told to Cyclop.