Every month I intend to bring a spotlight on one cyclist from around the world. I will introduce him/her briefly by talking about their major accomplishments and do a rapid fire question and answer segment.
This month I am featuring Saifee Raipurwala – a senior cyclist and a writer from the metropolitan city of Mumbai.
It was somewhere in the late 1970’s when Saifee Raipurwala earned a Rs.600/ from his first assignment at IMRB (Indian Market Research Bureau) and purchased a bicycle from Kalbadevi in Mumbai. At that time, he was a student at Wilson College and often commuted on his bicycle. With time, his aspirations evolved, and he graduated to own a scooter and then to a car.
“During those days, the roads were free of traffic and the streets were pretty calm and I could commute without the worry of safety” Saifee vividly recalls.
“I parted ways from my first bicycle as I got into the mainstream work environment and got into a busy lifestyle.”
Cut to the year 2020 when cities came to a standstill due to the pandemic led nationwide lockdown, the connection with a bicycle was re-established.
Saifee says “We were home bound and there was no physical activity during the lockdown. Gyms were closed and I couldn’t go for a swim. At that point I hit the saddle and used the down time to take my cycling skills to next level. I had bought a Trek MTB on 25th April 2011 and wasn’t using it much. Cycling again in lockdown took me back to the early cycling days and the empty streets revived old memories.”
In 3-years’ time, Saifee has matured as a cyclist and participated in several BRM rides and earned a title of a ‘SR’ – Super Randonneur thrice. (BRM : Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux – BRMs are rides called Brevets, of fixed distances that are to be completed within specified time limits. The rides of 200, 300, 400 and 600 kms are approved and monitored by the Audax India Randonneurs).
Between January and March 2023, Saifee has already recorded 12 century rides and is aiming to do more. He likes to document his rides in the form of a ‘Diary’ in which he captures his ride statistics such as the routes, distances, average speed, elevation, his ride partner etc. In future, he plans to convert his ride stories in the form of a book to inspire more people.
Rapid fire segment with Saifee Raipurwala:
Which bicycle do you currently use?
I use two bicycles: Trek 4300 (MTB), I use it mainly when I go to Aarey, perfect for off-road cycling. This is the bike, I had gifted it to myself on my 48th birthday, call it “Old Faithful”. Another bike is Scott Speedster 10 this one is used for long rides, all my BRMs were done on this. It was gifted by my wife, call it “Passion”.
Which cycling group do you ride with?
Mainly Powai Pedals, but associated with Buddy Riders, Cyclofunatics and erstwhile West Coast Riders have done many rides with them also in the past.
One place/route you regularly ride?
NCPA is my favorite route, my childhood was spent in South Bombay, I studied at Wilson College, nostalgia and the sea shore brings me here almost every Sunday.
Your longest ride?
600 BRM-Bharuch and back-600 kms.
Who inspires you in the cycling industry?
In fact there are many who have inspired me in this journey. Still there are 3 names that needs to be mentioned here : 1. Sapinderji of G 2 G fame acted as friend philosopher and guide. 2. Selve Kumar, with whom I did many rides before doing my first BRM, he helped me with many tips and Cycle knowledge. Last but not least Tojo Banerjee (Iron Man), he helped me push my speed limits. Constant reminders and subtle pressure to complete my first SR.
Who’s your best cycling buddy?
Two of them-Sydney Dantas mainly because our speed and temperament matches and Wais Ahmed, high priest of Aarey he knows every nook and corner of Aarey and the best buddy for off-road cycling.
Casual or Lycra, what type of clothing do you prefer?
Lycra for long rides and casual for short and leisure rides.
Which was your 1st bicycle?
Hero Speed King-bought at a royal sum of Rs.600/-
Your favorite cycling quote?
“The bicycle has a soul. If you succeed to love it, it will give you emotions that you will never forget.” Mario Cipollini, former world champion.
One change you would like to see for cyclist’s?
Road safety and Respect for cyclists on road.
Photo credits: Saifee Raipurwala
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