New Delhi: Two years ago, a bunch of fitness enthusiasts, cyclists, corporate workers and globetrotters from India and the United States came together to form the delightfully-titled Bike Street Boys. The start-up has since conducted five cycling tours: across Rajasthan, from Puducherry to Kochi and from Manali to Leh. And as the world marks the first official World Bicycle Day today, the group hopes both Indians and foreigners will re-discover India by bicycle.
"For us at Bike Street Boys, India is a cyclists' paradise," Marketing Director Puja Shah tells NDTV via email. "We thought of creating Bike Street Boys to change how the world sees and experiences India."
The group organises cycling trips anywhere between 8-14 days long. And don't worry if you're not a seasoned cyclist - the group is happy to offer specially designed rides for every level of cyclists. "Our trips attract travellers from their 20s and 30s through to their 50s, 60s and beyond - making for a very interesting and eclectic group mix," says Ms Shah.
It's not all hard work, pedalling across dusty roads all day.
"Our trip designers select some of our country's best heritage properties, boutique hotels and B&Bs to give our guests a complete experience of local life, food and culture," adds Ms Shah. "To fall in love with India at first and every sight, a tourist must slow down."
Britain's Tess Davison, a 49-year-old physiotherapist, says she's travelled in India before but "seeing it by bicycling was a totally different experience."
"You miss nothing and get the opportunity to meet the people and experience all the things you would miss travelling by bus, car or train," says Ms Davison.
The sight of a group of tourists pedalling furiously is one that often invites curious stares and smiles. "When locals observe our tourists riding in the remote and interior roads of India, they are awestruck. They cheer... and greet them with smiling faces," says Ms Shah.
At other times, cycling enthusiasts walk up directly to the touring group and ask about their trips. Ms Shah explains that for many, cycling tourism - what she describes as "combining the essence of tourism with active cycling" - is still a relatively new concept. "They're thrilled to find out that an offering like this is available in India and they don't need to travel overseas for an experience like this."
But things aren't always easy in a country where cyclists are among the most vulnerable on India's roads, apart from two-wheeler riders and pedestrians. "The metros, as well as some interior roads, would seriously benefit tourism if there are more dedicated cycling tracks, road safety measures and better traffic discipline," admits Ms Shah.
The bike tour company also offers day trips in Pune, New Delhi and Agra and just organised their first international trip across Bhutan.
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