Meet the Chennai cyclist representing Tamil Nadu at the National Road Cycling Championship

Adarsh Saxena has his task cut out in front of him. In a short while, he will get down to assembling his Ridley Noah bicycle to test a 10 kilometre loop in Bikaner, Rajasthan, which is the venue for the upcoming Indian National Road Cycling Championship, organised by Cycling Federation of India.

The Chennai-based cyclist is one of three men representing Tamil Nadu in the nationals (men’s Elite category for those aged 23 and above), having placed first in the 60 kilometre road race at the recent state level qualifiers held in Tiruppur. The battle in Bikaner will be fierce: “I’m up against solid chaps,” exclaims Adarsh.

“There will be good teams from Karnataka. Officials from the Army, Navy, Air force, and Railways are going to be taking part. I have heard Telangana is also strong, as is Rajasthan and Delhi,” he adds, scoping out the competition.

Pursuit of fitness

Though Adarsh has been cycling since 2012, he has only been properly training for the past three months. “I did not train to take part in the nationals. This was just happenstance. I thought I’m training as it is, so might as well compete,” he says. For Adarsh, who is also the father of a one-year-old, the goal is about getting fit and not winning championships.

“It’s nice to go into a race. But what I enjoy most is the personal process of training, and all the hours that go into it. I feel like I’m at my best when I’m on that bike. I can channelise my energy better. Football, cricket, basketball… all these are skill-based sports, but for cycling and any other endurance sport, it is all about the conditioning. You are only as good as your training,” he says, adding that he rides six days a week — on weekends with his cycling team on ECR, and on weekdays at his house with his bike fashioned onto a stationary mount.

Though indoor cycling gives better returns while training, cycling outdoors is without question the more fun option, he believes. And one main reason is the cycling community. It is why when he moved from Mumbai to Chennai in 2011, the former basketball player switched to cycling.

Eight years later, Chennai has its own ‘bicycle mayor’ in Felix John, and Adarsh too, is part of several WhatsApp groups such as the Madras Racing Circuit that organises local races. “We have people from different areas of Chennai, some from other parts of Tamil Nadu. It’s all very underground and organic. Information passes on word of mouth, not through social media,” he says.

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