news Sunday, May 24, 2015 - 05:30
  All of us have been on bicycles. At some point the love fades and we graduate to “cooler” things like motorcycles, but Vivek Radhakrishnan was smitten by his first love. The 37 year old is the founder of India’s foremost team in the sport, the Specialized Kynkyny Cycling Team (SKCT). The outfit has participated and won honours in international cycling events and now even has the fastest Indian on a bicycle on their roster. Vivek remembers being the child who would always ride his bicycle to school. Being passionate about design and engineering, he even crafted his own bike.   Vivek setting up his bike   His passion came to fruition when he moved to the Netherlands to study design and worked as a bike messenger there. “A lot of semi-professional cyclists worked there, and for them it was clock miles on the bike and buy spare parts from the money,” he says. On his return to India, Vivek decided to put together a cycling team that would push the envelope for the sport in the country. “There are a billion people here, we’ll have champions here too,” he says, remembering how it all started. He mentions that the team has survived on funding from passionate individuals keen to see India make its mark on the map. He mentions that at the time the main aim for an Indian cyclist was to secure a government job after making it on the national stage. “There wasn’t much hunger for the sport even though the talent existed,” he explains. This is when Vivek says he found his “champion”, Lokesh Narasimhachar, who he chose to build the team around. “A sport needs inspirational characters with charisma who can boost its profile”, and in Lokesh aka Loki, Vivek had found his man. “I always saw him on the podium at national events but in borrowed equipment,” reminisces Vivek. That would not be a concern anymore as the Kynkyny cycling team was up and on its wheels soon.   A room in Vivek's house doubles up as his work-place “As a first step I wanted to get the team out of India for exposure,” he stresses, and the new team jetted to Thailand and Singapore where the cycling scene is alive and kicking. “No one had seen guys from India there before and we garnered quite a bit of attention,” he says, explaining that the coverage in the international press got them headlines like "There’s more to India than cricket." The big step-up came when Specialized, the foremost bike manufacturers in the world dropped them a mail and offered the team a sponsorship too.  “From a small, almost grassroots team, we became top-one and looked the part too,” says Vivek, his eyes lighting up. It was around this time that a ‘guy’ from America sent Vivek a message, saying that he was racing at the collegiate level and now wanted to come back and compete in India. “I refused, and told him he was in the best place there and shouldn’t budge,” laughs Vivek. Naveen John aka NJ did budge, and the now fastest Indian at time-trials in the country met Vivek at the very next racing event in Bengaluru, and was inducted into the team.   Naveen John, India's individual time-trial champion “We had guys from the US, Bijapur, Himachal Pradesh and Mysore on the team then,” he says, emphasizing that the team stuck together in spite of the communication gap between them. The team consolidated their presence overseas and participated in the Tour of Friendship in Thailand in 2012, winning the junior division and securing a bronze in the open event. The team at the tour of Friendship in Thailand, 2012. Image Courtesy: Chenthil Mohan   The ride has had its share of bumps, with cycling being a sport that doesn’t guarantee any financial returns. As the money has been hard to come by, the roster features six riders now, and Vivek has been focusing on promoting and helping out the best talent in the country. "Three riders are on their way to Belgium in the next couple of days for a boot-camp," says Vivek. “They may get mashed, chewed up and spat out, but they’ll learn,” he adds cheekily. The images in the slideshow are courtesy Vivek Radhakrishnan, Chenthil Mohan, Rolling Shutterz and Light Trails Also Read: Have you heard of the deadly fish which goes for the male crotch?
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