In conversation with Nikhil Ram Mohan, cyclist and co-owner at the Crankmeister Bicycle Works on how he took up cycling to escape the traffic jams and enjoy the great outdoors.
Modern-day Bangalore conjures up images of potholes, choc-a-bloc traffic and the grim look on people’s faces as they wait in one of the city’s never-ending traffic jams. While we all live in the eternal hope that things will get better, some people have decided to take the matter into their own hands. The growing chorus of people taking to cycling to get to work is a testament to that.
For Nikhil Ram Mohan, a cyclist and co-owner at the Crankmeister Bicycle Works, it was no different. He saw cycling as a means to save time, be friends with the environment and stay fit at the same time.
For Nikhil, the outdoors always interested him, and he just couldn’t picture himself sitting at a desk all day. Young and eager, he decided to get himself certified as a mountaineering instructor and his first job saw him working with corporates and school kids in organizing various adventure activities. A couple of years later he got an opportunity with Runners for life, a running club in Bangalore to organize multiple marathons and ultra-marathons and some of the events he planned and executed where the KTM run, Urban stampede, and the Bangalore Ultra. He says “The experience has been great. As an organizer, I have seen the hardships of the unseen part of any sport, which is the hard work going behind any event. When every runner comes to me and says that they have had a great time at an event that I organized, it feels very satisfying to have provided the service to them”.
The Cycling Fever
Being a fitness enthusiast, he has dabbled in multiple sports such as Ninjutsu, Ultimate Frisbee, Yoga, Running, and Rock Climbing but it soon dawned on him that he wouldn’t have the time to focus on so many of them. That’s when he decided to stick with cycling. “The shift from being a freelance outdoor activity instructor for corporates, to organizing running events and now to cycling was very organic and as and when the opportunities cropped up I took them,” says Nikhil.
Being a recreational cyclist is always fun and being in Bangalore, you literally are spoilt for choice. There are several scenic routes that you can explore like Nandi hills, Bannerghatta forest, Hesarghatta, Big banyan tree, Manchinbele dam, the back roads of Sarjapura, etc.
But there is something about being a competitive cyclist that really gets your mojo going. For Nikhil, he enjoys both forms – recreational as well as competitive cycling. He intersperses his competitive cycling with bouts of recreational cycling to bring about a balance.
He has competed in several events in Bangalore and the one that stands out for him is his experience of riding at his first TFN (Tour-Of-Nilgiris) event in 2017. “The TFN is a great event. The event has something to offer for all types of riders. If you are a racer, the race segments will keep you engaged and if you are a recreational/ touring rider you can enjoy the beautiful countryside. The best part is the friends you make and there is a lot of fun to be had over the 8 days,” he recalls.
He goes on to say, “The challenge of being a competitive cyclist is unparalleled. The achievements, the rush of the speed is really exciting. But it is very taxing on the body and the mind to be in the competitive space all the time. So, I have to interlace being a recreational rider just to bring back the pure joy of cycling”.
Love for the Cycle
His passion for cycling aside, mechanics and working with machines have always been a fascination for Nikhil. In 2013, he teamed up with a friend Pavan Muthanna who had similar interests and together they decided to start a bike store and that’s how Crankmeister Bicycle Works was born in 2015.
Crankmeister Bicycle Works has been running successfully for the last 6 years making it a one- stop destination for all sorts of cyclists from novice to experienced. They put all their focus on providing quality repairs to custom built bikes to flawless servicing. “The fact that both Pavan Muthanna and I work here full time is the biggest uniqueness of our store. We are passionate about cycles and we do the work ourselves. We offer many unique services and since we are cyclists and mechanics at the same time, we bring a very different energy and commitment to the table,” says Nikhil.
Nikhil is of the firm belief that people need to believe that cycling is a sustainable means of transport and that it is not always dangerous if you take the necessary precautions. It’s a great way to lead a healthy life as well. Nikhil concludes, “The individuals need to believe that it is good to cycle and that it is not dangerous. The corporates need to incentivize cycling to work and the Government needs to help in terms of cycle parking, cycle lanes, provide subsidies on cycles”.