According to the tour operators, cycling as a tourist activity is fast becoming a fad since the past two years and the demand from tourists and locals alike have forced them to think of promoting the activity extensively in the hills. Young entrepreneur Sangey Sherpa, who is a tour operator and one of the organising members, said, “The cycle rally is being held on New Year’s day. This is symbolic as we want the year 2016 to remain pollution free.
Asserting that cycling facilities are among the key demands of tourists, Urgen Sherpa, another tour operator and also a member of the event organising committee, said, “It has been two years or so now since tourists have started showing an interest in cycling as an activity. We have started offering mountain bikes on hire. Apart from tourists, locals are also keen showing interest in the activity. About 80 bookings are done every month, except during the monsoon season.”
According to Urgen, adventure tour operators who provide bicycles on hire charge anything between Rs800 and Rs1,000 per day. He added that tourists usually prefer cycle trips in the outskirts of Darjeeling town in places such as Rambhi, Sukhaypokhari and Lamahatta. “We also offer packages that include a cycle ride up to Dhotrey from Darjeeling following which there is a trekking route to Tonglu and a night halt. The following day starts with a trek up to Manebhanjyang and back to Darjeeling. We not only offer cycles on hire, but also arrange for accommodation and food along with guides. This roughly comes up to Rs3,500 per person to Rs4,000,” said Urgen.
Speaking about the upcoming cycle rally, Sangey said, “Until now, 60 people have registered for participation in the cycle rally and many more are expected to join on the day of the event. We believe the message of using vehicles in a limited manner will spread further.”