Indian Cyclists Network

When Homi and Ashok were on the road

Rahul Chandawarkar, TNN, Aug 26, 2002, 10.10pm IST

Did you know that Homi Bhathena of Jazz Garden and Ashok Captain, wild life photographer, were ace cyclists once upon a time? Not just ace cyclists, but arguably, the best Indian cyclists in the 1980s. Over mugs of steaming coffee at Ashok’s home a few days ago, the former champions recounted their golden days. Says Homi, “I remember the two of us speeding down Baker’s Hill at b re a k -neck speed on our roadster cycles.”

Later, at Bishop’s school, where the two were classmates, Homi and Ashok joined another cycling aficionado Framroze ‘Vip’ Kalyanvala, to discuss everything there was to cycling. These meetings, as can be imagined, were in the bicycle stand! “Just as kids today discuss motorsports and Schumacher, we discussed gears, cycles and champions,” recalls Ashok. In the ’70s, the Mumbai-Pune cycle race was a very prestigious event and Homi remembers how champions like Dhashrath Pawar, Rueben Solomon and Anand Waghmare were legends.

It was a time when the Pune district cycling club (PDCC) was active and even local races like the Moledina road (now Dr Ambedkar road) circuit race attracted talent from outside. Therefore, when Ashok, then just 18, won the Moledina race in August 1978 and Homi (17), won the Pune-Shivapur race in the same year, they announced their arrival on the scene with a bang. And there was no looking back.

The duo recorded wins regularly in many national events, which included the Mumbai-Pune cycle races. They even represented the country in the World Cycling Championships in Italy in 1985. Homi exemplified grit when he raced in the team pursuit event of the 1982 Asian Games with a fractured wrist.

In many ways however, the world championships proved to be the turning point for the champions. They remember being outclassed at the event. Says Ashok, “We realised that in order to win we needed to train and race in Europe.” Homi decided to rest his cycle immediately, while Ashok persisted. For four years Ashok did nothing but cycle. “I wanted to be world champion. However, I realised in 1989 that while I was mentally ready, physically I was no match for the Europeans. This was when I retired,” Ashok says.
The duo have no regrets. Says Ashok, “We gave it our best.”

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Comment by Jude on February 26, 2010 at 2:30am
Comment by Yatin A. Chaubal on February 25, 2010 at 8:35pm
I was not aware that Homi is no more, He was from Dadar Parcy colony, had Bob Jackson if I remember correctly. He was too good.
Comment by Divya Tate on February 23, 2010 at 12:47pm
ashok still rides and how!!!
sadly homi died in a road accident a couple of years back, he was in a car that got hit my a bus on the expressway!!
Comment by Anool J M on February 23, 2010 at 11:35am
!! WOW !!
Comment by Vinay Menon on February 23, 2010 at 11:04am
Ashok still rides! Hes almost 50! Occasionally competes in Road, Mtn (XC), Enduro events...can still kick some o the young 'wanabe' riders!
Comment by Jude on February 23, 2010 at 8:50am
yep :)

whats amazing is they had the guts to dream of being world champions .. and the drive to try all it took to reach there .. may their tribe increase !!
Comment by Sahil hemant chaudhari on February 23, 2010 at 1:33am
"we gave it our best"-wow


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