2,700 turn up for ‘Fantastic’ recovery ride

 KATHMANDU: The sky was clear and the Mangal Bazaar area was jammed with cyclists in red and white tee-shirts and helmets carrying their backpacks on July 18. These cyclists had gathered to participate in the Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2015, recovery ride jointly organised by Save the Children and Socialtours.

The ambience was an excited and happy one — some cyclists were wearing masks, some had brought Nepal’s flag and cheered encouraging each other. Then there were eager cyclists who were impatient for the starting whistle. The energy and large number of cyclists gave a feel of carnival.

Some of the spectators were astonished to see the crowd of around 2,700 people along with their cycles and were asking questions like ‘Where did these people come from?’

Among these participants were Arun Kumar Dahal and 17 of his friends who had come to Patan all the way from Hetaunda. “The rally is organised for a good cause and to show our support to the cause and also to promote health — after swimming, cycling is the best exercise to keep fit — I am here to participate,” shared Dahal.

This was the fifth edition of challenge where this year’s target is to raise Rs 20,00,000 where riders had gathered to ride a personal challenge of 50 km, 75 km and 100 km around Kathmandu Valley.

The funds generated this year will go towards rebuilding the health facility in Maikaibari VDC, Bhimeswor, Lakuri Danda and Magadeurali in Dolakha district that were destroyed by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks.

The Kora Cycling Challenge has been part of Save the Children’s popular mobilisation for the EVERY ONE campaign for the past four years. With a message — No child is born to die and no mother should die giving birth, the event is an awareness activity related to newborns and child mortality.

Save the Children’s Media and Communication Director, Sudarshan Shrestha said, “The cycling challenge is really just symbolic; to get people involved in their own ways to save newborns against the backdrop of the disaster the country has experienced, and also to address the challenges faced by those seeking health service.”

According to him, more than 22,000 newborns (0 to 28 days) die each year in Nepal due to preventable and treatable causes; a figure that surpasses the number of deaths during the period of the country’s insurgency and added, “The amount of crowd on Saturday is fantastic.”