Pedaling towards success

By K. Rajshree

In recent years, cycling cult is slowly pedaling its way among the Chennai crowd. From various cycling and randonneuring clubs, there is even a café for bicycle, dedicated to the cycling enthusiasts across the city. Though many have embraced cycling as a leisure sport, only few take part in the competitions. Lakshmi Thangadurai is one of the few who is leaving no stone unturned to reach the top of the cycling league.

This 25 year old engineering graduate is a resident of Panaiyur and has been training for the past two years. She is a part of the racing team called ‘Firebolt’ coached by Gratian Mathew Govias. In a span of two years, Lakshmi has won a number of titles in various cycling events. She is also running her own online teracotta jewellery business.

“I started cycling for leisure after I was gifted a cycle for my 23rd birthday. After witnessing many cyclists riding along the ECR and OMR roads, I enrolled in the club – We are Chennai Cycling Group. I used to go for long rides with my club members and took part in various endurance rides and time trials. My present coach encouraged me to train for speed races,” says Lakshmi.

Lakshmi trained hard under the constant watch of her coach. She was able to continue the training as she was used to endurance ride. In 2016, she came into limelight after clinching gold medal in the Tamil Nadu State Cycling Championships (40 km) in the road race category and silver medal representing Kanchipuram district. She then represented Tamilnadu in the national level cycling championship held at Uttar Pradesh and finished in the 7th place.
At the nationals, I was able to identify my flaws. It helped me to practice with more vigor and concentration. My family’s support and staunch faith helped me to achieve my fitness goals, adds Lakshmi.

At present, Lakshmi is taking part in the Indian Terrain Champion Sportive Series. The series is the biggest pan India competitive cycling event for amateurs and will have independent editions in 8 cities across India. It will culminate in a grand finale (Champions Sportive) at Delhi, where winners from each city will compete. She has bagged first place in the races held at Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

“Right now, I am trying to get into the national team and take part in all the competitive legs which will help me understand the different terrains in our country and evolve as a better cyclist. To make it to the national team, I have to work harder than my contemporaries as some are trained right from their young age. Many see cycling as a leisure activity and not as a serious sport. I want to change that thought and make cycling as a recognised sport,” concludes Lakshmi.