(Custom Point Race-“The Race is all about India and its ‘customs’ and it’s from this ‘point’ where it all began”)
At the venue of the mega Custom Point Race, my mind was in a state of trance. I stood metres away from the finish line watching the race take shape. The bustling of vehicles on the noisy street was cleared to one side by a group of policemen. Without interrupting traffic, even as the pilots on their bikes whistled their way through an energised Mumbai crowd.
As the peloton of the Custom Point Race cyclist with bib numbers punched on their helmets took the position, an eager audience waited anxiously for the whistle to go off. I very well remember that Independence Day eve and the race held at the heart of the city – Prabhadevi (Dadar).
The experience of Custom Point Race was maddening and impossible to miss the adrenaline rush coursing through the cyclists. All hardcore I must admit. The sheer thought of all that potential energy getting converted into kinetic energy right in front of your eyes was truly mind-boggling. A brutal race, it includes children, women, newbies, heroes, underdogs, as well as some national riders, all put to the test.
‘The Custom Point welfare society’ was established on 14th August 1981. A seed sown three decades ago continues to draw cyclists from different corners of Mumbai and other cities. A success which could never have been achieved without its Pioneer M.K Pradeep Joshi, chief promoters and other organising members.
The Custom Point Race was initially started to provide a platform for the children of the mill workers residing in the area. Gradually the race gained recognition across Maharashtra and witnessed an increase in the number of contestants from neighbouring cities. The race which was formerly held at midnight on the 14th of August now kickstarts on the morning of Independence Day (4:00 am to 9:00 am).
With some of the largest contingents for the Custom Point Race being the Under 18 category, Men’s open and under 14 followed by the women’s category, the race route consists of six hard right turns starting from Prabhadevi Road- Prabhadevi temple-Marathe Udyog Bhavan- Veer Savarkar Marg- Sane Guruji Marg-Ravindra Natya Mandir – Kashinath Ghanekar Chowk-and would conclude back to Prabhadevi.
Unlike other races with Lycra-clad cyclists on their carbon machines, ‘Custom Point Race’ was made to kill with its unique 2.2km burst on a single speed Indian bike, that is covered within three minutes.
Can you imagine the intensity of training required to win the Custom Point Race? I still remember the final curve clearly – A strong chase put up by Venkatesh Shetty, being led by Nikit, the duo blasted their way for a podium finish.
If Nikit wins again this year, he’ll be the first person to complete a hat-trick, since the inception of the race. The final moment felt like a scene straight out of the movies. As everything slowed down, the noise blocked off, it’s just you and your mind soaking in every moment of the race.
Editor: Tracy Alvares