26 Jan 2017 | The enthusiasm for the cycling expedition organized by the JNU Cycling Club brushed me when the uncle at the cycle repair shop near Godavari asked, “Is there a cycle competition in JNU? Many students have come to my shop for servicing their cycles today”. To which I nodded my head and told him about the expedition to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Haryana that had been announced 2 days before on the JNU Cycling Club’s Facebook page.
On the day we were supposed to ride out, I reached the spot (T-point, KV Stand) 5 minutes before the indicated time of 5:30 AM, only to find 2 other riders waiting! The ride began at 6.30 AM, with a total of 15 riders. The general guidelines given by the JNU Cycling Club volunteers were: to follow traffic rules, to ride in a single file, and most importantly to remember that we were NOT in a race.
The route began at the West gate of JNU (near Chandrabhaga hostel), and went through Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Vihar residence, and out through the serpentine Air Force Road. As the route within the city was difficult to keep track of, a total of five stops were made during the journey for regrouping of the riders. Utmost care was taken on this particular aspect, and all in all the journey passed with only a few minor hiccups. The distance covered during the ride was 40 kms. During this journey, a variety of healthy snacks were served by the volunteers- ranging from salty peanuts, protein rich bananas to enriched Amla Candies. Care was taken while choosing food stuff to ensure that the riders didn’t lose focus and alertness.
We reached the Bird sanctuary at 10 AM, after paying an entry fee of Rs. 5 and parking fee (for a cycle) of Rs. 2. A total of two hours were spent at the bird sanctuary, having a picnic, taking selfies, group photographs and engaging in mobile photography. Unfortunately, nobody in the group was equipped with proper wildlife photography gear for the bird photographs. Despite this, several attempts were made for bird portraits, with friendly cajoling about the bird captured being a regular crow and not any unique migratory bird!
The journey back to JNU began at around 12.30 PM after lunch of roti, rajma, kadhi, rice and butter milk at a dhaba situated next to the sanctuary. The return journey had only 3 stops for regrouping, while the distance and route remained the same. The initial energy and fervent of the riders had faded a little, as riders were exhausted from the ride to the bird sanctuary. Every rider complained of some kind of cramp. The ride ended around 4 PM as we entered JNU from the East gate. The difficulty level of “Medium” as stated by the Facebook post, lived up to its expectation.
I highly recommend that you ride with this amazing club if you own/can borrow a good cycle. This was my second ride with the club, and I can assure you that the club volunteers take utmost care of each participant in the expeditions. All in all, it was an adventurous experience.
Chaitanya Haram is an MA student at School of Biotechnology, JNU and works for The Informer. The views expressed are personal. Photographs by Alok Kumar.