A club’s image is shaped by the action and projects of the club, and its involvement in the community. We at Rotary Club of Bharuch, RID 3060, would like to be known as people who are sensitive both about the environment and the need to remain fit and healthy through regular exercise,” says Rachana Poddar, club secretary.
To implant this image of the club on the local community, and create public awareness about two very important aspects of life, members of RC Bharuch, one of the oldest (78 years) and biggest clubs in RID 3060 with 145 members, organised a 10 km cyclothon in December to focus attention on health and fitness and the need to reduce our carbon imprint on this environment, says club president Dr Vikram Premkumar. Being a medical doctor himself, he felt that during his year health awareness should get priority in the club’s projects.
Apart from club members, Rotaractors and Interactors from the Rotaract Club and Interact Club of Bharuch participated enthusiastically in the rally, which saw a massive participation of around 300 cyclists.
The club president says that this interest was, thanks to the Covid pandemic that has been raging for the last two years, increasing awareness in the general public on disease prevention and health. “Health inequities have affected majority of the people. Many people, who have now become more health conscious and feel the need to take care of their fitness level, have already become a part of the cycling world and cycling has emerged as a new hobby, as it is not only fun but can also be easily fitted into one’s routine, irrespective of age.”
So for this cyclothon, the club forged a partnership with two cycling groups in Bharuch — the G J 16 Pedallers and Bharuch Cyclists Association — for the event titled ‘Ride your way to good health’. Expectedly, the event had an enthusiastic participation from both its Rotaract (45 members) and Interact (35 members) clubs, as well as the Rotary Community Corps, Bharuch.
Iconic, hereditary bridge
The cyclists made their way through the iconic and hereditary bridge called the Golden Bridge that connects the two cities of Bharuch and Ankleshwar (Borbhatha) on the banks of the Narmada river. This bridge was built during the British era in 1881, as they needed a bridge across the Narmada river to create trade and administration access for the empire’s officials visiting Gujarat from Bombay. This bridge is also called the Narmada Bridge, but over the years, a new and parallel bridge was built to handle heavy traffic. Rachana adds that at the moment two wheelers are allowed to ride across the old or Golden Bridge so their cycle rally could make its way through this bridge, providing an excellent photo opportunity.
After crossing the bridge, near Borbhatha, the cyclists paused to clean the place to underline the need to protect our environment and cleared the place of polythene bags, plastic bottles and other garbage that people carelessly fling here. “The event was well covered both in the print and electronic media and the cyclothon achieved its objective of increasing awareness on both the environment and health and fitness and also boosted Rotary’s public image,” she added.
More important, several of the cyclists, particularly Rotaractors and other young participants, also resolved to use the cycle as their mode of communication for at least one trip per day in the week, and this is “Rotary’s contribution to reducing pollution in the city, in whatever little way we can,” added Dr Premkumar.
“We are hoping that our small step of trying to switch just one trip per day from driving a car to cycling will reduce the carbon footprint by about 0.5 tonnes per person every year, and when compounded, this can add up to an impressive number,” says Rachana.
The club also hosted at this event the two Rotaractors, Dhanush and Hemant, from the Rotaract Club of Shishu Mandir, sponsored by Rotary Club of Bangalore Whitefield Central, RID 3190, who are on a 25,000 km, single country cyclothon to set a Guinness World Record for the longest journey by cycle in a single country. They were flagged off on this ride from Bangalore on July 11 by RID 3190 DG Fazal Mahmood, and “have already completed 15,000 km of their 25,000 km journey. We hosted them for one evening and then they left for Surat,” Rachana added.