Chethan Ram talks about his journey riding and touring on his cycle and how it became more than just a fitness craze.
The cool breeze on your face, the unbridled laughter amongst friends, the screeching tires – it all reminds us of happy childhood days when we loved riding our cycles. Sadly, growing up, cycling took a back seat but I’m glad that in recent times, cycling is making a comeback.
In this story, we talk to Chethan Ram who took to cycling to stay fit, but it became so much more.
Having worked a desk job for 8 years, Chethan wasn’t in the best shape. He needed to lose some weight and so he took to cycling for his daily commute. He soon moved on to going for short weekend rides (20K) with his friends and his reward was a delicious breakfast afterwards.
Over the past few years, cycling has come to the fore and to this Chethan says, “It is the local communities who have been spreading the awareness about cycling and its benefits. The only way to make it even bigger is spreading awareness. I feel there are a lot of people who aren’t aware of what cycling can do for them. People tend to be little scared as they feel that it isn’t safe to ride in the Bangalore traffic, but honestly; unless you try you won’t know what you’re missing”.
Soon, the short rides became longer (100K and more) with routes focused around South Bangalore. Chethan adds, “We mostly ride towards Kanakapura, Pipeline Road, Tavarekere, Nelamangala, Big Banyan Tree, Manchinabele, etc. Off late we have been doing a lot of rides around Turahalli, one of the best places for cycling with lots of ups and downs which also gives you good training. We usually do a 100km ride on a Saturday and a short ride on a Sunday”.
Long-distance endurance rides require a lot more than just good training. “Hydration and nutrition are two key elements for any physical activity and it’s no different for cycling. Long-distance rides require preparation and planning – understanding of the route, elevation profile, weather, etc. help you plan your ride well. Having said that, training plays a big role too. I always tell people to train properly for any long-distance ride so that they finish in style rather than crawling to the finish line”, says Chethan.
Cadence90 – experiences and more.
With each passing week, their cycling group had new members join in and they started organizing weekend supported rides. It was on one of these rides that Chetan and a friend decided to open up a bike store “Cadence90”. The main reason to have started this according to Chethan, “We thought that we have a good community and we should set a good platform for this community to grow and that is how Cadence90 was born. Mahendra has been very instrumental and his contribution to Cadence90 has been immense”.
Cadence90 is known to be an experience centre and on asking Chethan the kind of experience they offer their customers, he says “We always wanted to provide an experience rather than just selling bikes. First-time cyclists usually come to us with little or no knowledge. We have to educate them and take them through the importance and benefits of cycling. We do not want to sell what we have; rather we want to sell what the customers need. Understanding their requirements and offering them the most appropriate solution is what we do. Our relationship with the customers does not end with the sale, in fact, it’s just started. We invite them to our weekend rides, educate them about the importance of group rides, etc. With a lot of our experienced riders around, they get to learn the tips and tricks of the trade”.
6 years on and Cadence90 has grown with the changing times. Speaking of how they have adapted and grown, Chethan says” Being a bike store we have to cater to everyone’s requirements, be it a recreational cyclist, racer, endurance cyclist, tourers and so on. At the same time, we have our riders doing Brevets, Racing, Touring, etc. depending on their interests. At the end of the day, we all are cyclists”.
Wanting to do more to promote cycling, Cadence90 soon launched their first flagship event – Monsoon Magic in 2013. “We had 13 people who signed up for it and we covered Melukote, Shravanabelagola, Sakaleshpur, Belur, etc in two days. These were supported rides with a couple of support vehicles following us. This ride happens every year during Monsoon and hence the name Monsoon Magic. Off late we have been riding in and around the Western Ghats and last month, we completed the 7th edition of this tour and with a total strength of about 35-40 people. We usually cap it to 40 so that we don’t face any organizing challenges”, he says.
Building on the success of the Monsoon Magic, Cadence90 decided to organize a multi-day tour. “This idea was casually shared in the group and within no time we had 20 registrations for this event. That’s how Tour of Karnataka came to life in the year 2015”, says Chethan.
The ‘Tour-of-Karnataka’ is a 4-day ride which happens in the last week of November covering a distance of about 100 – 150K each day. With 4 editions already under their belt, the 5th edition is underway with registrations opened up. Talking about the event, he says “We make it a point to change the route every year so that we give the riders a new experience year after year. This is again a supported tour which anyone can ride regardless of the skill level. The whole idea is to cover as many places in Karnataka as possible. If I have to name some of the key places covered during this tour, they are Belur, Kalasa, Udupi, Thirthahalli, Agumbe, Kuduremukh, Halebeedu, Sirsi, Dandeli, Kumta, etc.”
Riding made easy.
Chethan himself is more of a leisure cyclist though he does enjoy the competitive side too. “To be honest, I am not a racer though I have taken part in some of the local races like the BBCh. This is one event where I take part regularly for the joy of it. The competitive side is very appealing, but it requires a lot of dedication and time. I have a store to manage, weekend store rides and we have a few tours which take most of my time”, he says.
Over time, Chethan went on to achieve the Super Randonneur title.“It is a great feeling to get the SR title. One of the 400kms Brevet went through my home town Hassan and that attracted me, and I registered for it. I was fortunate enough to get the company of 6 other riders for the same who played a big role in achieving the SR Title. 6 other riders are Pancham, Madhu, Jaisimha, Aditya, Phaneesh and Satish. Without these guys, I don’t think I would have finished my 400km brevet. Once we got the 400 under our belt there was no looking back for all of us. Those were some of the best rides for us, the wonderful company kept us going and, in the process, we achieved our SR title. If I had to do all this on my own, I don’t think this would have possible”, he says.
More than anything, Chethan always enjoys a long ride with his friends. When Chethan started out doing a 100K, it was a concept that was uncommon and unheard of. Satish Addanki has been a constant support and Chethan’s best riding pal and they have each other to thank for what they have achieved so far.
Speaking on how he accomplished his hundred 100Km rides, Chethan says “Completing 100 100km rides was not even on our minds until recently when a friend Pancham, an awesome cyclist wrote a script to calculate the number of 50s and 100s under each person’s name. Both Satish and I were nearing 100 and that is when we decided to get our 100th 100 together. It is a great feeling and riding along Satish who is my ride partner for my first 100 was an even greater feeling. The best part about this 100th ride was that we had the entire Team Cadence90 who rode with us. Today if I have achieved something, Team Cadence90 plays a very big role. It’s like a family”.