In November 2017, I had cycled across Goa’s Chorão island on a bicycle retrofitted with an electric motor. The experience made me realise two things—Goa is a great place to cycle, and cycling is a great way to explore Goa.
Samarth Kholkar and Sandeep Mukherjee had a similar realisation. So they quit their respective corporate jobs to start Arcis Clean Energy Pvt Ltd. At the same time, the state wished to promote sustainable tourism. Cutting a long story short: both parties recently joined hands to launch B:Live by Arcis, which offers people a selection of four e-cycling tours.
They have a fleet of proper electric cycles that are motor accelerated, manufactured by Gujarat-based LightSpeed Mobility. Capped at 25 kmph and available in three variants (‘easy bike’ with its flatter-than-usual seat for comfort; ‘adventure bike’ with extra wide tyres for the thrill-seeker; and the regular ‘city bike’), there’s barely the need to hit the pedal unless going uphill. It’s quite safe too—there’s an SOS button that immediately relays your GPS-tracked location to a control centre, which will dispatch a rescue vehicle in case of an emergency.
They have also been setting up a network of ‘hubs’. These serve many purposes: charging stations (including solar charging), parking areas (as attractive blue compartments fashioned out of recycled shipping containers), and wifi-enabled tourist information centres.
At the core of the initiative lay what brought me to Goa—participating in the curated tours. B:Live enlists the help of ‘Make it Happen’, an experiential tour operator. A ‘captain’ conducts the four experiences on offer.
Our ‘captain’ Murali had us first embark upon ‘Culture Trails’, where we snaked our way across Panjim, climbed up Altinho, and stopped by exciting heritage buildings, churches and the locality of Fontainhas. The highlight, however, was the evening stop at 31 de Janeiro, a confectionary with mouthwatering Portuguese delicacies such as bolinha and bebinca.
Next morning, ‘Escape to Divar Island’ had us take a ferry to the island and enjoy lovely alle belle with a Goan family at their home. After my wonderful experience, it leaves no doubt in my mind that cycling is, indeed, the best way to explore Goa.
The tours range from Rs 1,799–2,799 per person and are 3–4hrs long. Except the Divar tour (starts at 8am and 3pm), all tours start at 8am, 11am and 3pm. (blive.co.in)