She is not a stranger to those driving along the western suburbs to Dadar. A few motorists even stopped her to ask why she was riding a bicycle to work. She would patiently explain them the twin benefits of doing so health and ecosystem. Meet 42-year-old Firoza Suresh. A marketing professional,the Juhu resident is the first Indian woman to cycle 200 km in 13-and-a-half hours.
Firoza bagged the title in an event organised by a Paris-based body for cycling enthusiasts.
Her enthusiasm for cycling has inspired over 15 of her friends to take to cycling as a mode of transport. Firozas love for bicycles prompted her to shut down her advertisement agency and take up a job as a marketing consultant with a bicycle company. I also decided to invest in a folding bike,which I now ride to my workplace in Dadar at least thrice a week. On days when I am late,I take the bike with me in the luggage compartment so that I can ride it back home, she adds.
Her first tryst with bicycle was when she was a child. My mother encouraged me to ride one. Soon,I was riding my cycle to school. During my college days,I would often rely on my bicycle to go to students homes to give tution. Also,my bicycle has been useful in running errands, Firoza says.
The first bicycle that Firoza bought with her own money earned her the name of Streetcat in her locality,as she was rarely seen without it. This was when I bought a BSA Streetcat. My neighbours got used to seeing me ride it all the time, she fondly recalls.
She took a break from cycling when she got married and became a mother. However,that was only for around four years. In 2010,she participated in a cyclothon that turned out to be the turning point in her life. Buying a new bike proved to be another educating experience for her. The event also helped her get in touch with other like-minded people through cycling clubs and communities.
In January,Firoza participated in the Brevets de Randonneur Mondiax (BRM),a biking event where participants have to cover a certain distance in an allotted time period. The event is organised by the Audaz India Randonneurs (AIR),a body recognised by the Audaz club Parisien that administers and oversees BRMs worldwide.
The participants were required to travel from Mulund to Igatpuri and return via the Kasara ghat. On September 21,the AIR recognised Firoza as the first Indian woman to have completed 200 km in 13.5 hours on a folding bicycle.
Firoza believes that there is no need for separate tracks to ride bicycles. These are just excuses for politicians to make more money. As commuters,we can easily ride on Indian roads. Although many people like to ride,they do little to promote it as a mode of transport, she says.