DNA, Sunday, 28th August 2016 – Thane gears up for country’s longest amateur cycle race

India’s longest amateur cycling team racing event — Veloraid — is back. This year, it will end on the top of Yeoor Hills on September 18.

The 180km-long race will be flagged off at Upwan in Thane and will crisscross Atgaon-Tansa-Vaitarna-Khardi only to end at Yeoor Hills.

“In all, 30 teams from all over India are taking part this year,” said Jose George, co-organiser of the race. “We had got 45 teams for participation without sending across any invitation. Out of these, 30 teams were accepted.” Last year, 25 teams had registered themselves.

The aim is to popularise cycling, a non-polluting and healthy form of commuting, so that people switch over to it and, if possible, also pedal to work.

As per the structure of the game, each team will have six members who will have to cover the entire stretch from Thane-Atgaon-Tansa-Vaitarna-Kardi-Yeoor Hills. The reason for keeping this the route is because of the varying gradients an amateur cyclist will have to cover. Special permissions have been taken from the urban local bodies and security agencies to allow participants, volunteers and organisers to cycle through some of these restricted areas along the route.

On May 28, an all-night cycling race was organised in Mumbai, the first-ever such event that the city had witnessed.

Although it is labelled as an amateur race, each team has a mix of professional and beginners. This combination helps the professionals to train and motivate the freshers.

In Mumbai, there are groups working to promote the cycle-to-work concept, it is gradually gaining popularity. Also, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has dedicated a space outside Jogeshwari (East) station to park bicycles, probably the first such move by the civic body in at least the last couple of decades.

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