Cycling through vast tracts of India’s more exotic pockets requires you to have adventure pouring out of your ears. Undertaking such a physically strenuous venture during the holidays isn’t a particularly popular notion amongst Indians, and yet, India on Bicycle (IOB) founder Depy Chaudhary has a packed calendar to look forward to every year, one which sees him and his team of trained professionals host standard and customised tours of the country on bicycles.
A self-confessed adventure nut and a seasoned trekker, he decided to take to pedal power over a decade ago. One can safely assume that the topography of India’s chief holiday destinations is firmly etched in his mind, given the frequency with which he haunts the Himalayas, Rajasthan and Kerala. “It’s important to have intimate knowledge of the terrain; it allows our clients to have a hassle-free journey,” says Depy, who recently authored ‘Depy’s India Adventure Guide Book ‘- a detailed guide to the Himalayas, which contains GPS elevation points, maps and a lot of exclusive information which isn’t easily found on the internet.
There are several fixed dates on IOB’s annual calendar. Detailed knowledge of contrasting terrain gives them a season’s pass to the innards of Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka, Ladakh and the Kumaon region. The days are meticulously divided, with equal bits of cycling and trekking, which allows the participants to get acquainted with local villages, cuisines and traditions, with the total cycling distances tailored to suit rider comfort.
IOB also hosts several bespoke cycling tours, which see the group venture to the outer periphery of the Indian border, visiting countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. “Whether it’s a group of two or twenty, we provide customised tours to suit a group/individual’s chosen time frame, budget and fitness levels.” Depy’s team knows a wide range of resorts, heritage inns and luxury hotels, with varying levels of comfort and costs, each selected according to the participants’ selected budgets, and they can deliver on a smaller budget with perfectly comfortable lodging, which has been previously experienced by the team. “Even though there are no fuel costs, cycling tours aren’t exactly cheap, since distances covered are shorter and as a result, you spend more nights in hotels.” That said, cycling provides a certain intimacy and accessibility to the terrain, which other forms of travel don’t. “We can set up camp wherever we choose to.” Those who participate tend to do so repeatedly, delighted with the idea of a pre-planned route charted by experts, which gives them the ideal exposure to cities, monuments, coastal and mountain roads while eating the best meals and burning it out immediately — the only vacation which allows them to stay fit, and yet return perfectly refreshed.
- Support vehicles with spare bikes and room for fatigued or injured travellers constantly accompany all groups, during custom and standard tours. Each vehicle is equipped with mid-tour refreshments and basic medical aid, at no extra cost.
- With a network reaching out across 35 Indian cities, IOB is available 24/7 for any queries or emergencies.
- IOB’s customised tours are offered to clubs, organisations and families of any number. Tours are tailored to suit the group’s budget, riding preferences and time frame. IOB frequently takes customised tour groups to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar.
- Individuals can choose to bring their own bicycles, although a Trek 3700 mountain bike and a riding helmet are included in the package.