KARACHI: If you happened to be out and about on Sunday morning, you could not have missed the cyclists, mostly in red, the dress code for the morning ride, pedalling away to join like-minded fellows waiting for them at Seaview.
Some cars and SUVs carrying a bike or two on their racks also zoomed past.
They were all getting ready for the “World Heart Day Ride” organised by Docs on Wheels, a group of cyclists including doctors, nurses and medical students. Many other cyclists’ groups, such as Critical Mass Karachi, Freeriders, ECKO Ryders, KDA Riders, GG Riders, PECHS Riders International, Cycologists, DD Athletes Unbreakable and Slow & Steady, which had people from all walks of life such as engineers, scientists and businessmen, and women also came to join them in their cause of spreading awareness about healthy activities such as cycling to prevent heart disease.
At Seaview, one individual was found hurriedly filling air in his bike tyre with a hand pump. Another was waiting for him to finish so that he could do the same. On one side, more people in red were gathered around several bicycles. Some were getting on them to see which would suit them better.
“This ride is not to promote any institution. This ride is simply to highlight the fact that heart ailments are the leading cause of death in Pakistan and how to prevent heart disease,” Dr Saulat Fatmi, one of the founders of Docs on Wheels, and the main person in charge of making sure the event went smoothly told Dawn.
Having all his troops on wheels lined up, Dr Fatmi made sure that the ride commenced exactly on time, at 6:45am, before the sun became too harsh. Appreciating his good intentions, here even Mother Nature extended her support to him as the sky remained overcast throughout the duration of the ride.
Inculcating healthy habits while starting from his home, Dr Fatmi also had his young son, eight-year-old Ahad Fatmi, on his bike by his side.
Among the other little ones, there was also 13-year-old Murtaza Sabir and 12-year-old Ishita Parkash, who was accompanying her father Dr Om Parkash.
Imran Sidat from Cycologists said that they were happy to join the event. “The cause is close to our hearts too. We have different meetups on Saturday and Sunday, which cover from 20km to 25km on Saturdays and 50km on Sundays,” he said.
Among the students, mostly hailing from Aga Khan University Hospital (AKHU), was first-year student Anjaleen Agrawalla, who said that she has been riding cycles for as long as she can remember. “My father got me a tricycle as soon as I could walk, and from there it didn’t take me long to graduate to a bicycle,” she smiled.
Dr Rizwan Khan from AKUH said that Docs on Wheels have specially rented out 200 or so extra bicycles for participants without their own bikes.
Wasila Gul Kakar, a second-year student of medicine, was busy selecting a bicycle from those very bikes, being unloaded from a truck, for herself. “I’m from Quetta. Though I love cycling, my own wheels are back in my home city,” she said.
Nayyar Jamil, also from Cycologists, said that even for the World Heart Day Ride from Seaview to Boat Basin and back, some of them were doing more than expected as they had started at 5:30am to reach the starting point from their homes.
And spreading awareness, motivation and inspiration, there was Dr Irfan Daudi, an AKUH general surgeon, the oldest member of the entire 500 or so riders at the event. “I’ve been riding for seven years now. I’m the daddy cyclist here,” he laughed heartily.
All the cyclists rode up to Boat Basin then for a well-deserved hearty breakfast, which was digested then by cycling back to their starting point.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2022