How Having a Rival Helps You


That was a near shave: An oversized man  just overtook me. No bells rang, no excuse-me shouts heard. He just rushed past me a few centimetres away. He didn’t even bother to keep the minimum logical distance while overtaking a moving object. I applied my brakes and kept my cool. What I couldn’t do was to ignore the brand of his bike and the peculiar way he moved while pedalling. One thing I noticed – he was riding an expensive bike, quite sophisticated than my little ride.

He was riding a Cannondale, though his basic understanding of traffic rules appeared to be practically nil. Well, that’s the typical Noida driver. While pedalling, he was moving in a peculiar way – banging his head to an imaginary wall on the side to which his leg was moving: Zig-zag-zig-zag or maybe bang-bang-bang-bang. Maybe it appears ridiculous, but I named him “Cannondancer”.


Sometimes even grown up people behave like teenagers. Well, I’m no exception. After he was out of sight, I suddenly sprang into action. I don’t how it happened: My shoulders weren’t aching anymore. Suddenly there was this energy that strengthened my feet to boost up my speed. Though my rear wheel had a slightly lower than usual pressure, I wasn’t feeling any difficulty in raising my speed. I felt like flying through the wide road. After some time, I could spot the dancer on wheels far ahead of me at the end of the horizon.

I kept pedalling with a constant pace. Remembering my high school Physics lessons, I would call it ‘uniform acceleration”. I am catching up minute by minute. I can see his silhouette getting clearer and closer. Though my legs feel tired, I pedalled hard with determination. A few more minutes later, he reduced himself inside my rear-view mirror. For quite some time I didn’t realize that I got ahead, or how I could manage to do that. During the next few weeks our paths crossed again, giving me the
much awaited drive to move on. With pain on my knees and back, I kept trying really hard to catch up with him.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out there riding with my son Addu while the Cannondancer suddely overtook us. That was quite a scene for Addu who started pushing me.. “Come on dad, let’s take him.” I have to admit it, sometimes I am game for such stuff. And together we caught up with him. Well, then I had already received my birthday gift, and the new Little Ride actually reduced the pains on my back and knees.

In the following months I met the Cannondancer many times on the road, and he somehow got this idea that he can’t ride along with me. So he seems to have given up this particular route nowadays, giving me the opportunity to be among the longest distance cyclists in that particular route. Perhaps it isn’t so.. I just think.

Having a rival is sometimes a blessing. I would like to think so.
What is your opinion? Please let me know.
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4 Comments Add yours

  1. bgddyjim says:

    A few things… Big people are incredibly self-conscious on a bike. His passing you, and you’re retaking him is often looked at as “I can’t let that fat guy beat me”. Right or wrong, this is likely why he switched routes to avoid you.

    This would also explain why he passed you poorly that first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you for the comment.

      I do have respect (and some slight admiration) for all those slightly plump people who try the bike. Admiration, because it takes a lot of thinking and determination for a fat person to take the bike. My point here was the attitude with which one uses the city roads here. Unlike in the developed countries, the traffic patterns are not organized well in my city. It means that even though you are crossing an intersection, vehicles can just jump in your way even if the traffic signal is green on your side. So here in my city it is the man with the bigger car (or more sophisticated vehicle, for that matter) who tends to ‘own’ the road. When there are many such people, road rage becomes common. Several people don’t know traffic rules, and others don’t care. So my point was to highlight that attitude of ‘owning’ the road, rather than mocking the person’s weight. Also culturally speaking, fat people earns more respect in Northern India simply because they ‘appear to be from a well-fed household.’

      As a cyclist, I have had a humble beginning and have slowly gained experience and went slow upgrades to reach where I am now. But whenever I am on the road, my priority is to follow the local traffic rules (and also ask others to do the same) and to use my bike as a workout tool or a pleasure ride without wanting to ‘own the road’. My blog is mostly about such interesting incidents I face on the road. Hope it looked good to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bgddyjim says:

        I understand. I never thought, from reading your post, that you were mocking his weight. You definitely conveyed your meaning well. If my comment made it seem otherwise, that was not my intent. I merely wanted to express that bigger people have a lot going on in their heads that is easily misunderstood.

        Liked by 1 person

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