Is it a strange coincidence that we find accomplished Doctors conspicuous in the riding community in most cities of the country? It almost seems that Doctors are making the wheels go around. Why? And what makes them tick? Is it the congruence of objective with their profession, which is general wellness? Or is it that common strain of service and passion? Or precision focus perhaps? We don’t know but we are happy. Who better than Doctors to promote our cause…they are perhaps the best inspirational role models for all to get on to the saddle. CRANK met a few to get an insight into their drive. And we found, fun guys they are all! Not the serious, staring – above –their – spectacle – rim types at all…come let’s meet them you’ll like them instantly
Dr. Arvind Bhateja (Bangalore) ‘Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction’, Rumi.
A renowned Neuro-Surgeon and the boss at the Specialty Sita Bhatija Hospital, Dr. Bhatija’s tryst with cycling began soon after he decided to start training for a half marathon in 2010 but injured his knee. Not the one to be overcome by circumstance he shifted focus to cycling and went from an MTB to road bike in about 2 months and did 1000 KM Tour of Nilgiris the same year. And before the year ended he had heard that passion call from within for cycling
Being every bit an athlete since his childhood, Dr.Bhatija began training and racing systematically. His journey on wheels is virtually a roster of exploits “I raced locally to start with and then went international. Giro di Dolomiti in 2015, Tour of Friendship 2016, Masters Tour of Chiang Mai 2016, Tour de Bintan in 2017 and recently the Tour of Friendship Thailand. A few BBCh podiums came along the way, TTT, Gunjur circuit race, BBCh road race within months of a back surgery and the ITT” Phew that’s quite a list Doc!
His approach to passion and profession are perhaps similar. Methodical, systematic, with intelligent planning, precise execution and with a view to satiating the soul. His training is planned and systematic. Weekdays are indoors on a smart trainer (Tacx Neo) and Zwift. Coach prescribed workouts on training peaks and three to four workouts and then the weekends are usually hard and long to get him ready for races. He prefers the Nandi group ride on Saturdays and a South Bangalore ride on Sunday through rolling terrain
Dr. Bhateja is the founder of Spectrum Racing. “It was born out of an idea to be competitive but yet have fun. Initially we were 4 but now we are a large family of 20. We meet, ride, race and have fun and call ourselves an eating team with a racing problem! Our members Vicki and Craig recently did us proud by qualifying for the world masters finals. We are even mentoring an under 18 rider as a part of our talent development effort. Spectrum is absolutely the best thing about my cycling.”
Doctor Bhateja has been a source of inspiration for many, but especially for his son Vivek. Vivek inspired by his father took to cycling to lose weight. He has lost over 50 Kgs since and has normalized his high BP and pre diabetic state. Today Vivek is a passionate rider himself and is aiming for his own list of achievements – just like Dad!
Dr. Vignan Rachabattuni (Hyderabad)has been cycling since he was 24. In his early internship days he would cycle primarily to improve his endurance. Over a period of time he built his game around endurance and then went for Half Ironman Vietnam and Putrajaya. He has achieved podiums in local races, done brevets and participated in National games for triathlon
Dr. Vignan is a part owner of Dr. Fitness, a fitness center and clinic for triathletes and other athletes. The center also helps with sport injuries and conducts training sessions for tri athletes
“I think doctors are better at sports or triathlon because we have a better understanding of muscle physiology. We are able to pick up signals of fatigue quicker and are able to exercise to optimum limit with an ideal recovery plan. I guess it’s all about the knowledge. Doctors are generally more aware of their bodies which helps them maintain the fine balance between a rigorous passion and profession”
Dr.Vignan owns four cycles, which he uses for different purposes. His alloy Bianchi is for roughing it out while the Specialized Roubaix is for daily riding. The carbon aero Merida Reacto 5000 is reserved for racing which has amodified headset to make it a TT bike. The Bergamont Vitox is a recent acquisition reserved for trails or for days when he just wants to ride without thinking too much about the road
Dr.Vignan sees a promising future for the cycling community, “cycling has become a lot of fun. When I first started cycling, there were hardly any races happening in India. Today the racing scene is big. Brevets have become routine in almost every major city of India. Also, people are using cycles more to commute to work. The racing scene has also grown considerably as many Indian cyclists are now traveling out of India to race”
Dr. Ali Poonawala (Bangalore) is a urological surgeon and a much-recognized face in the riding community and likes to be called a no-frill-Cyclist. He has been cycling since his childhood in Pune, a city that which had an erstwhile sobriquet of “cycling city”
Dr. Poonawala is in the true sense a Doctor on Wheels and has been commuting on a bike since 2011 to various city hospitals offering his services to his patients. In 2013 he rode to Pune over four days and all of 850 KM’s to attend the Urological Society of India’s annual conference there. He used this ride to raisefunds for charities supporting alternate community living, needy patients and for the not so privileged destitute of Mumbai
Dr. Poonawala is a conscientious cyclist and follows the principle of “pay it forward” in return for all the enjoyment he derives out of cycling. He is actively involved with the Bangalore Bicycling School, in teaching adults to ride. The school provides cycles and does not charge a fee. All one has to do is to turn up at Cubbon Park on a Sunday morning. “This is our Gurudakshina to cycling, which has transformed our lives”, says the Doc
In line with his no frills credo the good Doctors fleet consists of a BSA Ladybird, the children’s gift to their mom and now used now for teaching ladies, a BSA Mach 1 his son’s school bike and his erstwhile favorite for long rides, a Raleigh Mybike, his new city commute, a Btwin Sport1 and the Peerless foldie
Dr. Poonawala advises the ‘Cow Principle’ for urban commuters. “A cow is the best example to follow. Never rush or waverand serenely move on and let the traffic meanders around you! To be consistent and steady in traffic is the key to safe commuting”
“As a cyclist treat everyone on the road with empathy. Don’t carry that superior halo of being an environment protector. You never know the other guy may be doing more for the environment, but differently! Enjoy your ride but do not be a prig”
Dr. Chiro Mitra (Delhi) is a Veterinary Surgeon and got on the saddle as a part of a rehab that he went through while recovering from a bad road crash in the US in 2005. He was bed ridden for four months and cycling helped him come back stronger to his profession. Since then it has become his passion and Dr. Mitra has clocked over 50,000 KM on his wheels. He has cycled high altitude terrain from Manali to Leh twice and has completed 3 SR series and has cycled extensively in Europe and America
Cycling as a rehab made him a “believer”.“I am Veterinary surgeon by profession and got back to India after living for 15 years in the US. Initially I would hardly see other recreational riders on the roads but now it seems cycling has emerged as the new Golf.” And Dr. Mitra has done his bit to bring about this transformation. He started the Delhi Randonneurs, which has grown from 2 to 2500 members and is the founder organizer of the Delhi triathlon and many of Delhis Brevets
“I have had most exciting 9 years of my life since I began cycling’ Mine used to the first all Carbon bike in Gurgaon in 2010 and now I am happy to see so many. I wish our tribe keeps increasing”
And Dr. Mitras services to cycling have not gone unnoticed. He has also been awarded the Karamveer Puraskar twice for promoting social causes through cycling
Dr. Amit Samarth (Nagpur) We are all waiting with bated breath for Dr.Samarths upcoming exploit at the RAAM. Having crewed for Seana Hogan the ultra-cycling legend in 2016 RAAM we feel he has the experience. Currently on a grueling 360 training that includes a weekly schedule 1500 kms of cycling, 70 kms of running and 20 kms of swimming, strength training, yoga, and meditation we feel he has fair chance and at CRANK are rooting for him to get that first solo podium position from India.
Dr Samarth lives and breathes fitness, health and sports. Apart from being an endurance athlete he is a Doctor (M.B.B.S) and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health. A doctor by profession he wants to make a mark in the domain of fitness through his venture ProHEALTH foundation. His goal is for an active India and to convey the message about the essence of fitness and health in life. The foundation provides necessary educational aids and equipment and establishes infrastructure to facilitate and support healthy lifestyles. It also identifies athletes and manages sporting talent across Tier 2 & 3 cities.
Doctor Samarth has completed 10 long and short distance Triathlon and more than 100 half and full marathons and is a SCOTT sports supported athelete
“My objective is to promote sports and active lifestyle and inspire people of my country to give more priority to sports. In future, I want to establish the School of Endurance Sports in Nagpur to develop national and international level athletes in endurance sports like cycling, running and triathlon”says Dr. Amit Samarth. We at CRANK wish him all the luck