2020 was a tough year for a whole number of reasons and, for many cyclists, it was Zwift, RGT and other virtual cycling platforms that kept us fit and sane. However, in India, friend of Hotchillee Prateek Gupta was forced to find a different way to get his two wheel fix and rode a large proportion of an impressive yearly tally of 21,000km round a 100m loop.
Have you always been a cyclists?
No, I only started to cycle in 2018 and it was primarily a way to get into the office. I was also about 90kgs then so wanted to lose some weight and gain some fitness. My commute was about 9km but, as I got fitter, I then started riding further and exploring my city. I joined some group rides with friends and, in 2019, managed to log about 27,000km.
But then, in early 2021, COVID hit but you were still determined to keep riding.
Yes and the lockdown in Indian was really strict. At the start we weren’t allowed to go out at all for cycling but I made the most of things doing HIIT sessions in my home which was a real boost for my fitness.
On the first phase of relaxation, I was then able to ride a 100m loop within my compound and, on that loop, I completed many rides of 50km and even as far as 70km.
When our restrictions lifted more, I was then able to get back out on rides further afield and into our local hills. I completed my longest ride of the year, 215km, on the 27th December and brought my annual total over 21,000km.
The hardest thing was to keep my mind focussed when riding round and round that 100m loop. I also had a little of fear once I started riding further I could be putting myself and my family at risk of infection.
You live in the north of India, that makes for some hilly riding!
Yes, I live in Chandigarh, which is right by the Himachal Pradesh state. It’s an extremely beautiful but mountainous area and it’s really easy to log 1500m of climbing even on a relatively short ride without really looking for climbs.
So, are you going to be taking it easy in 2021?
No. This year I was wanting to combine running with my cycling and I started doing both in January but then I had some health issues that meant I had to ease back on the running but I could still cycle. So, my targets for 2021 are a minimum of 15-20,000km of cycling and 2021km of running.
What do you love about cycling?
I love the motivation and the fitness that it gives me but also meeting and riding with friends.
What tips would you give to someone starting cycling?
It’s all about consistency. It doesn’t matter how far you do each ride as long as you do it regularly and slowly build it up. I started with my 9km commute daily and that got longer as I got fitter and started exploring. I’d then ride 50km before going into the office and just built from there.
Do you ride on road and off-road?
Yes. I mainly ride on the road but I try to get out on the trails with a group about twice each month.
Is cycling as a sport becoming popular in India?
Yes, definitely. There are more clubs and events being organised and more provisions, such as cycle lanes, being built to encourage people to ride.
And finally, having spent much of 2020 cycling around a 100m loop, if you could ride anywhere in the world where would it be?
I’ve never ridden outside of India yet but I’d love one day to ride some of the classic climbs and roads of the Tour de France.
Follow Prateek on Strava PRATEEK GUPTA #LAPIERRE