Setting the wheels in motion
What started off as a way to unwind for a group of friends has now transcended itself into a movement of national proportions with international affiliations. Back in May 2011, when founder Mozzamel Haque along with his friends went on a biking trip, fashioned under the BDcyclist banner, they had no idea of what was to soon transpire. In a span of merely five years, BDcyclist now boasts over 5000 members, with offshoots of their project spreading all the way to Chittagong, Comilla and Mymensingh among others. Bdcyclist now doesn't promote just a healthy outlet to relieve one of stress but has become more of a lifestyle choice.
BDcyclist initially offered people respite and a way to negotiate traffic during the rush hour, reaching destinations easily within 20-30 minutes, despite the gridlock by using bicycles. However, the intense amount of interest this cycling adventure generated led to the BDcyclist group organising more events and thus spurring interest even further. One of their most popular activities takes place on Friday. Aptly called 'Bike Friday', a group of 50 plus bikers show up at a designated point, usually Sangsad Bhaban, on Friday mornings at 5:30 am and begin their adventure. Moving further away from the city, they travel onwards towards the villages and places basking in green glory, travelling 20-40 km, towards Bosila, Beribandh, Keraniganj and numerous other locations. The bikers follow up the ride with breakfast and then all head home, re-energised for the day.
For those who seek more thrill than a means to chill, opt to partake in Josshila Saturday, which presents numerous adrenaline pumped, long-distance, fast paced, endurance rides through challenging trails. A favourite among the bikers are Rupganj Shalbon, Mawa route and Birulia riverside route. These routes usually span over 200, 300 and even 400 km which many have covered within 24 hours. However, this is more for the seasoned riders and not something beginners would want to try out.
For beginners, BDcyclist offers training programmes, which one can sign up for and that takes place at 7:00 am at Abahani. The group provides the bikes and doesn't only teach one to ride a bike but also provides instructions on safety, equipment and all the while encouraging more women riders. Each session consists of only 10 new members, so as to provide a 1:1 or 1:2 training experience and even those who have never ridden a bike before can easily learn to do so by availing this opportunity.
Finally, BDC also partakes in the internationally recognised Critical Mass programme, where the bikers weave through the clogged streets of Dhaka and promote the use of non-motorised means of transport. This is not strictly restricted to bikes, as vans, rickshaws, roller blades, roller skates, skateboards and numerous other non-motorised means of transportation are also seen. This provides an opportunity to see and raise awareness about the efficiency with which such alternate modes of transport can be used in Dhaka.
Most of the members are students and office workers, from ages 6 and up. The relaxation one feels when biking through the hidden scenic visages of Dhaka and its outskirts is amplified amongst a group of like-minded people. And finally, bicycles are clean and environmentally friendly and coupled with the fact that they are fast, it is no wonder that they are steadily regaining a popularity long lost. BDcyclist is bringing cycling back to the scene and one should take the opportunity to experience it.
Visit the BDcyclist website at www.bdcyclist.com or check out their Facebook page -- www.facebook.com/groups/bdcyclists..
Special thanks to Fuad Ahsan Chowdhury for details.
By Osama Rahman
Photo of Model: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Photo Courtesy: BDCyclists Facebook page