How It All Started
Cycling Defence Lahore – CDL
Two Faisals, two pairs of wheels – that’s all it took to get rollin’!
Yes, the inception of CDL, Cycling Defence Lahore, began with the vision of two gentlemen who shook hands and rocked it!
Faisal Shabbir and Faisal Dogar created a group for cyclists within the DHA vicinity on the 5th of April, 2017. Little did they know themselves how this snowball was to gain momentum and keep rolling into something bigger and unstoppable! It was like creating a whirlpool where all kinds of cyclists would be attracted into its ever going and ever growing momentum.
Towards the end of the same year, Yusuf Nazar, owner of Bikestan, shifted from Karachi to Lahore and joined hands with the duo. Casual weekend rides slowly began to turn into weekday spins, and as other dedicated enthusiasts joined in, Furqan Dogar, Mubashir Hameed, Umair Waheed Khan, Faisal Fareed, Osman Aziz Anwer, Umer Javaid, Zulfiqar Ali Jehangir, Zahid H Khan, Haroon Shabbir, Ahsan Saeed, Shuja Ahmed Chaudhry, Aisha Rahimoon, Shah Waqas and Salman Lodhi to name a few, and more recent members such as Sohail Sadiq, Ahsan Afzaal, Khurau Nadir Gilani and Harris Shaikh, the group’s dynamics started shifting gears to facilitate longer routes and faster speeds, and turning it into a pro group whose perimeters grew from mere Defence to extensive rides such as Islamabad to Lahore.
Sunrises are beautiful, more so when you are riding along with them. You see the sun, a burning bright globe, giving warmth and renewed energy to start afresh. And if you are fortunate enough to be part of the CDL family, you get to experience this burst of life together with like minded, high spirited members of this fraternity. When I chanced upon this group, the winters had just given way to a lovely spring, and I thought the regular activities would probably be put on hold during the scorching summer months that were to follow. Yet how surprised I was later to see morning and evening rides continuing as before. It was as if CDL had found a secret solution to staying positive and being happier. Our Captain, Faisal Shabbir, has often been heard to point this out to new recruits such as myself, and with a twinkle in his eye he suggests convincingly ‘Try it for yourself!’ And that is hard to resist!
Whether the rides consist of few cyclists on a particular day, or large numbers, everyone is connected, looked after, and provided with whatever assistance that may be required. It may be a sincere advice from experienced riders, or fixing a minor technical hardware hitch with the bicycle to combatting flat tyres; it may be staying behind and accompanying slower riders for safety and inclusivity; may be helping with a minor injury or online and real time assistance and guidance regarding route coordinates and coordination. Whatever the case, everyone feels content and safe, connected and cared for. A casual chit chat also reveals to each other how tremendous efforts are made to accommodate cycling in our extremely busy lives. None of the riders I have met till now are retired from their respective professions, working day in and day out to earn their ‘livelihoods’( true for working men, women, parents and students alike), and remaining ‘lively’ at the same time with their wheels rolling forward! A glimpse into each others’ lives, and we are all assured that one is not the only crazy one! On a serious note, this empathy and understanding of fellow cyclists is absolutely essential. We begin to value each other far more when we come to terms with what each of us is foregoing, and battling with in order to run a race against time, simply in order to make cycling, and that too within a family of cyclists, an inevitable truth of our lives. And of course the diversity, humour and fun that each bring to the table is priceless…from funny masks with printed big mustaches to flags worn n fluttering like super hero capes, pirate themed head scarves to bright n colourful socks one can detect a mile away to simple smiles and cheerful greetings, it all adds up to a vibrant weave in our fabric of daily lives.
The breakfast or refreshment stop overs are much deserved by the pros who venture far and test their limits and capabilities as to their speed as well as distance covered. The ‘khaaba’ is a delightful experience along with the ride for all, especially kids during family rides whether be it day or evening.
The online content on facebook page and whatsapp group is essential in ensuring the proper and smooth functioning of CDL. It holds everything and everyone together literally at the touch of a button! Not only does it provide a pragmatic approach towards coordinating group rides, it is a befitting platform for humour, inspiration and appreciation. The famous TTBH (treat to banti hay) slogan has forever haunted the chat group and ended in delightful get togethers, the Sunday morning picnic at my parents’ farm included. There have been treats from winners such as from the Queen of CDL Aaliya Rehman for securing more n more QOM’s, to treats from those who have been cornered at the slightest of pretexts like Jawad Musaddiq losing and reclaiming his air pods! Someone recently and rightly even went so far as to point out a new name for CDL, being the Party Group! Photographs are shared, adding to our treasured memories like tall trees being lined along a route where we may ‘cycle down memory lane’ for years to come; fantastic video compilations by Ali Latif add zeal to the chat and casual comments fill in all the spaces!
From new riders to bike accessory additions, to innovative rides, CDL has withstood the tests of time in its formative time period…two recent recruits Ali Latif and Mohsin Ali Chaudhry (whom I came to call as Al n’ Mo!) experimented with and started the trend of night rides. Ali even dreamed and dared to go for a target of 200 km and nailed it! Soon the midnight madness caught on, and Aaliya Rehman and Faisal Shabbir got lured in as well! I remember the first family night ride where I took my three kids…in a short distance from phase VI to VIII, friendships were made and hearty gup shup was in the air. My ten year old son was termed as the fastest rider that night by CDL’s very own kindest of leaders Yusuf Nazar who gave my son company and security. My son would also remember the fun loving Sultana Aunty’s company resulting in a promise for a future ice cream treat! There was a sense of pride and accomplishment in including children, imparting to them the love for this wonderful sport and inculcating in them a sense of togetherness. CDL was right there along with other esteemed cycling groups to commemorate occasions such as International Women’s Day, and up front in organizing memorable rides like the Pinktober Ride held by Bikestan for breast cancer awareness and fund raising for Shauqat Khanum Hospital. It was through CDL that I discovered the breath taking view along the BRB Canal, all the while living in Lahore, yet oblivious to such beautiful spots. And it was with them, that I ventured on my longest ride (so far) on the Bedian Road to a scrumptious desi naashta catered by Shayan Siddiqi amidst the gold rice fields ready for harvest, some 20 km away from the neighbouring city of Kasur. CDL’s participation in the recent Wheatable Run n’ Ride event secured them some top positions in the competition, including my second position in the ladies 10 km amateur race! Two of my mentors Faisal Shabbir and Aaliya Rehman were up there on the podium along with Ali Latif. And Yusuf Nazar, even after a recent heart attack and implants of two stents, could not be held away from the happening scene, ever ready with careful supervision and constant support!
It is in times of social turmoil, political upheaval and uncertainty, and in an era of environmental degradation, that CDL shines like a beacon of light. It calls upon the common sense to leave a zero-carbon footprint for a cleaner, greener Pakistan; it invites individuals to connect not only with other cyclists, but to connect with the rich cultural heritage of Lahore itself. Whether it is riding to Aziz Bhatti Shaheed’s monument to pay tribute to our beloved martyrs and heros on Defence Day, or simply riding past historical monuments such as the magnificent Lahore Museum, Heritage Museum (formerly the Tollington Market) as well as riding through the narrow streets of the old city (androon shehar) in search of ‘payas’ and ‘lassi’ , all for the love of cycling!
Sometimes I wonder how different life would have been if such cycling groups existed back in my days…so many of us would have grown up with our Cannondales and Bianchis! So many among us would have explored our own city through this unique perspective of rolling up and down unexplored alleys. I had been cycling ever since I was a child, then why didn’t I ever think of going to college on bicycle for instance? What stopped me from even attempting?! Sometimes, we have all the ingredients like health, energy, passion, interest, opportunity, but one key element changes the game, namely, mind-set! And with this ingredient, are associated deep rooted traits of courage, determination and resilience. It is this key ingredient that CDL, and other cycling groups of today, strive to bring about and implement. It is indeed a sport of speed, energy, enthusiasm, connectivity, and last but not the least, a game of a different mind-set. Indebted to the inventors of CDL as well as other inspirational leaders and individuals of our cycling community who are paving the paths to better tomorrows. Merci and bravo!!!
Want to Join The Club?