Goa’s oldest cycle race now has a golden tinge

Guirdolim Club pedals its way to the 50th All Goa Cycle race and has planned a special on January 26
The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.
The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.

Goa’s oldest cycle race will have its 50th edition on January 26, 2024. The race was started when cycles were the chief mode of transport in the state, actually a Union Territory at that time.

Today, five decades later, cycles are more popular as exercise machines or cycling has turned into a leisure activity.

The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.
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Of course, sportsmanship is high among committed cycle riders who undertake hundreds of kilometres cycling rides, but this here is a short race with a long history.

Guirdolim exists in a corner of Salcete, often overshadowed by its neighbours, Chandor and Curtorim.

But, on New Year’s Day, it basks in the spotlight of a cycle race that goes back over 50 years, only this year, the race, for various reasons including to bestow upon it a special shine on its golden jubilee, has been moved to the Republic Day. 

“We always used to have it on January 1, but the participants and the police requested us to change the date. The police had bandobast duties, so we shifted it to January 26,” Patwin Fizardo, president of the Guridolim Club told GT Digital.

The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.
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That’s not the only change this year, there is also a women’s category added, and the club has four entries already.

In all, there will be five categories this year, including for those over 45, and another for residents of Chandor and Guirdolim, besides for men and for college students.

In the 1970s, the racers came along with their non-geared cycles, a trend which continued until a few years ago.
In the 1970s, the racers came along with their non-geared cycles, a trend which continued until a few years ago.

It was the early 1970s, and the idea of having a cycle race came from the late Camilo da Costa of Guirdolim, who had been working abroad. “In those days, cycles were very common, and so, he came up with the idea of why don’t we have a cycle race on January 1st,” Fizardo says.

“Also, one has to consider the fact that, at that time, there was no entertainment of the commercial nature of today on New Year’s day,” he adds.

The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.
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“When the race started, Francisco Vaz was president of the Guirdolim Club, and we have Atanasio Antao who has been connected with the race right from the inception,” Fizardo recalls.

It is interesting that in the early years, it was the fish and bread sellers who used to take home the prizes.

The reason for this, say club members, is that they used to carry loads on their cycles, so the stamina and energy they had was easily converted into sportsmanship and winning the race.

It was natural that in the 1970s, the racers came with their non-geared cycles and this continued until a few years ago, as a large percentage of the participants could not afford the geared variety of cycles, and to allow a level field for all, the geared variety of cycles were not permitted.

The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.
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It was only in 2013 that geared cycles were permitted in the race.

The course also is now much longer than when it was started. “In the initial years, they would start at Guirdolim, go through Macazana, turn in at Curtorim and return to Guirdolim. Today, the route extends up to Chowgule College, Margao, as the racers sought a longer course,” Fizardo says.

This year, Guirdolim Club's 50th All Goa Cycle race will have 5 categories, including a women’s category.
This year, Guirdolim Club's 50th All Goa Cycle race will have 5 categories, including a women’s category.

It being a road race, the logistics involved are considerable, especially managing the traffic.

“People have been very cooperative all these years, and there are about 30 to 40 marshals along the route to control traffic. I really need to appreciate the Goa Police because every year they send us a jeep with a siren in front, and this alerts the traffic and our marshals.”

Though this is the 50th race, in the past five decades, the cycle race took two breaks. The first time during the Konkani language agitation, and then during the Covid pandemic, when the race could not be held.

But, races also cost money. “There was a time when we did not earn from this race. We are a club, and we also need to earn in order to sustain our other activities – and our major activity is football," Fizardo said.

"Now, we are making a profit, and this is invested back in the club activities,” he said.

The 50th edition of Goa’s oldest cycle race will be held on January 26, 2024.
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Guirdolim Club will be accepting spot entries, so cycle enthusiasts can still enter the race by turning up with their cycles early morning on January 26, 2024, at Guridolim, as the race will be flagged off at 8.45am.

Alternatively, Patwin Fizardo can be contacted on 9822583691.

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