Wanna get our awesome news?
We will send you weekly news & updates. Isn't that cool?

Actually we will not spam you and keep your personal data secure

Wanna get our awesome news?
We will send you emails only several times per week. Isn't that cool?

Actually we will not spam you and keep your personal data secure

Thu, 02 Apr 2020

Northeast Today

Cycling Scene in Guwahati – Part 1

Cycling Scene in Guwahati – Part 1
April 07
15:17 2019

The bicycle had been an important mode of transport for most people in Guwahati since Deshbhakta Shri Tarun Ram Phookan brought the first bicycle in the city during the early part of the 20th century. Almost every family was known to have owned a bicycle but this humble vehicle began to fall out of favour after the motor vehicle became more and more affordable from the 2000s.

The poorer sections of the society still kept using the bicycle but it was more out of compulsion than a choice. They keep buying and riding bicycles for the simple reason that they couldn’t afford any other vehicle. If given an opportunity most will buy a motorized vehicle rather than keep pedaling their rickety bicycles. And it was and still not their fault. The marketing of motor vehicles as a symbol of one’s prosperity and life goals affects everyone’s psyche. Because of these marketing techniques, the bicycle is still considered by many as a vehicle of the poor in India.

Interestingly keeping up with global trends the cycling scene in Guwahati started to change since 2015. Many people started buying bicycles out of choice. This welcome choice was fuelled partly due to a desire to keep oneself fit and partly due to the availability of better quality bicycles (read costly and good looking).

The people who took up cycling as a lifestyle choice were not necessarily young and came from all age groups although the youngsters still made up a sizeable section.

The scene evolved further with people having similar interests forming groups with the advent of social media. Although most of these groups exist only on Facebook and Whatsapp these have played a key role in getting more people interested in cycling.

Seeing the interest of people in cycling and their willingness to spend big amounts of money (read anywhere from 15k to above a few lakhs) many entrepreneurs have set up cycle shops in the city selling all kinds of cycles from across the world. As of March 201,9 Guwahati has almost a dozen cycle shops selling good quality high end cycles. Many of these shops provide top notch after sales service as they have understood that good service is the only way to make good sales. These new age cycle stores are different in their approach to sales and service in comparison to the older cycle stores that still exists in different parts of the city and cater to a different segment of clientele.

Regarding the cycle groups in the city, mention must be made of Guwahati Cycling Community (GCC in short). Although this group was started by a few friends in 2016 to simply plan weekend rides it has now grown to be the biggest cycling community in the region and now looks like a mother ship with members from almost all the smaller groups from the city and also the whole region being its members. It has many active members who organize community rides on special occasions and serves as a platform to share ideas related to cycling and make new friends.

There are few other important although smaller groups in the city like Guwahati Cycle Tour (GCT), Guwahati Cycle Riders (GCR), Tilinga, Pedal Saints, Guwahati MTB Society which have been instrumental in keeping the cyclists active and connected.

Wherever cycling has grown cycling events have also played a great role. Initially, most groups used to organize weekend rides. As more people got interested different kinds of rides on special occasions and cycle rallies started getting organised and then came the different kinds of races like downhill races, uphill races, MTB cross country races, different kinds of road races and also the long distance endurance rides.

The cycling scene has evolved a lot in the city and has been able to attract a lot of people again towards cycling. As of now the future seems bright but a lot of different aspects need to be thought over and a lot of work in different areas needs attention.

This is part 1 of a two part series on the cycling scene in Guwahati.

Arshel Akhter - The writer is a cycling enthusiast who also happens to be the Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati. This is an honorary and non political positions given to him by a Netherlands based social enterprise called BYCS. He also runs a project called Pedal for a Change to promote cycling and cyclists in the region.


Related Articles