Yes, it wasn’t intentional, but the set of events turned out that way. I think I should submit this entry to cycling tourist and blogger Devi Lockwood, whose blog I follow. Despite packing snacks and the wallet, I missed out taking the bag itself. Interestingly, I didn’t realise it till I crossed the Golf Course metro station about 5km on the way. Turning back was not an option.
I understood the shape of things to come. I can’t survive on 650ml water alone. It was almost 7:00 morning, temperature touching 25 degrees Celsius with mild winds. My objective was to tick off 45km in a practicable manner without going through undesirable situations. Think think think. Well, cycling is a great effort that can clear the head off clouding thoughts.
So this is reality: 45, or maybe 48km of mixed tarmac, rubble, sand and grass. The later it gets in the day, the hotter the day would become. But rushing towards the goal will do more harm than benefit. I know that already.
Well then let me make my strategy:
(1) Maintain consistent speed. It would take less effort to pedal a longer stretch of road this way. Also it will help reduce my sweating. After all that is precious water content that I’m losing through sweat, especially when reinforcements are limited.
(2) Take lesser number of breaks
While it is advisable to take frequent breaks and recharge your body and batteries before you continue, such advises are applicable on ideal situations. Unfortunately mine is not an ideal situation, so I’ve to override that advise. I’ll have to manage with lesser breaks and very limited amount of water, and get back home before the day gets hotter.
(3) Find a way to reduce sweat
I would open the top two buttons of my T-shirt to let the air in. That dries up the sweat and cools down the body.
(4) Refresh myself without actually drinking water
It is interesting to mention here that all these mental listing and strategics happened while I was slowly pedalling, trying to assess the impact of a bad decision, reassuring myself that things will turn out to be fine, and secretly hoping that all would end up well.
On the way towards Greater Noida, I found several cyclists of different skin tones and ethnicities whatsoever and waved at every single one of them. The Indian guys waved back saying ‘Hey’, others smiled, even the Korean lady (I presume she’s Korean; there’s a huge Samsung office on the way) smiled back. Well, so many cheers are better than mouthfuls of Gartorade or Redbull. I flew off till I found the huge green display “Welcome to Greater Noida”.
So there it is. I looked no further. Just entered the ‘wonderland’, circled the first roundabout and headed home. All strategic measures mentioned above applied successfully.
Have you true long distance ride with limited resources? Please share your experience.
Us v. Them
I just heard an “Excuse me” which is quite unlikely on a Noida road. Naturally, while you are at 30 km per hour speed on a mountain bike, with empty road and a bright and sunny Sunday morning ahead of you, it would be natural to expect the sound of a horn or bell. To my surprise, he had neither.
As we entered the empty road, I spotted these two youngsters chatting. Both of them had racing bikes, wheels thin a few micrometres. What are they doing on a normal road with bikes meant for a stadium…wondered Smitha.
What caught my attention though was the line “I think you’d ride 30km at least. I can say that by looking at your face”
Ah, the face. That’s what Delhi-ites are all about: The looks. I’ll explain that in another entry. This was the Ohmygod moment, if I could borrow the phrase from fellow blogger and cyclist who blogs as The Drunken Cyclist.
A quick note about the new generation cyclists in Noida: It’s all about showing off. Most of us here think, this is what it means when you say “attitude”. Wear big brands, get an expensive looking bicycle, flashy costumes, no matter whether you are fit or not. Neither does it make any difference if you know or obey traffic rules. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not able to ride the bike properly.
So I asked the racing biker (on whose face it is written that he rides 30 km) if he has a flat tyre, while he was busy overtaking me. I didn’t want to sound offensive by pointing that out directly.
“I don’t know” he shouted, while racing forward. We continued our slow pace. More miles to go.
Less than a kilometre down the road we met them. One of the bikes now has both tyres flat.
As a cyclist to the heart I’m bound by the commandment “Thou shalt not leave thy fellow cyclist alone when he is in need.” So we stopped to help them.
Me: Do you guys need a pump for the wheels?
They look at me as if l am speaking Spanish. It takes them more than a few moments to respond
“Yeah. Do you always carry one?”
Ah, the sarcasm.
I pretend not to have registered that, and continue.
“Sometimes yes.” But I make sure well beforehand that my bike can handle the road I’m planning to ride. Cycling needs preparation.
You need to be fit yourself. The gear system on cycles is not meant to cover up for your unfitness, it is meant to provide support when the ride gets tough. It’s not about walking in to a flashy store and buying the most expensive bike that money can buy. But I don’t say any of these.
I tried using my portable pump on the lean machines. It wouldn’t work. It became difficult to detach the pump from the tyre. Somehow it came off without causing trouble.
I honestly wanted to help. I said I’m sorry. I’m not able to help them.
They call up their homes, asked for assistance. One of them says their driver is coming with the car to get them. Good then. I really hope they ride normal bicycles on everyday roads.
How’s the cycling scene in your city? Have you met someone with high level attitude that towers over common sense? Please share your story.
Image courtesy: http://bicyclemechanic.blogspot.in
I was looking into a curious pair of green eyes.
“What a beautiful name!” I commented, generally to myself.
It was a beautiful morning. We were on the way cycling through our regular route, and fond that Surinder has shut shop. People laying pipelines in the neighbourhood said he has left for his native village and may not return soon. Sheru and Laali are nowhere to be found. They might have found themselves some other place to live.
So on the way back, we planned to look out for some other roadside stall for the regular tea-break. That’s when we spotted another makeshift tea stall and planned try it out. The stall is manned by no one else than a lovely little girl barely 10 years old.
“Are you here all by yourself?” The wife got curious.
“No. My sister and brother in law runs the store.” She says.
“Can you make tea?” I’m slightly doubtful.
“Yes” she said to my surprise.
And when it came in cups, it was one of the tastiest I’ve had. Rich in milk and sugar, slightly on the lighter side. Not a hard tea.
“How old are you Aarti?” I’m curious.
The smile. I understood.
“Actually I don’t know. You have to ask mommy.”
That’s when Smitha said, we have a little one in the house, a little older than Aarti herself.
Aarti’s father is a supplier of bottled water. Her mother is a housewife. They live 15 km away from here. Her brother goes to school. When her elder sister was married off, she took Aarti along, while relocating with her husband, to the city. Her brother in law is a rickshaw puller, and he arranged for this makeshift tea stall, so that the girls can use their time well, and support their living in the city.
We promised to visit again and bade farewell.
After a few weeks break from cycling mainly due to viral fever, I’m planning to get back to cycling this weekend.
Recently I crossed my long pending cycling distance target: Exceeding 50 kilometres in a single ride. It has been lingering on since quite some time and I wanted to tick it off and move on to better things and longer distances. To most people around me I’ve done something impossible, if not something outright lunatic. But for a rare few cycling friends, I’ve started some ‘serious’ cycling. Anyway I’m happy having done that.
Each day on the road is a different experience. You see smiling strangers, frowning faces, some simple people struggling to get going with life: A truck driver who wants to know how bicycle gears work , a tea stall owner who keeps stray animals as pets, a differently-abled man who saves street vendors from police extortion and the wonderful black buck that just refrained from charging at me – each day on the road is a different day with a different story.
Do you have road stories? Please share.
I didn’t understand the depth of the comment then.
“So I’ll get her to you the next time she’s restless and wouldn’t sleep” said the baby’s mother who was a family friend. I couldn’t understand why there are such times when the little one wouldn’t sleep. She’s fine in my arms and starts snoring in less than 20 minutes whenever she’s with me. I had some experience in nurturing children but as the wife puts it, I’d never had a chance to change nappies, which mothers in India consider a litmus test for the “daddy quotient”.
Someone recently listed me in Twitter among the “best blogger dads”, making me think over and over again how I am, as a dad. I’ve never blogged or tweeted about my son, though there might be some passive comments here or there.
He has recently turned twelve, and here is a photo of us. As a blogger I’ve limited my comments to cycling and cultural experiences. Should I blog about my personal side more often? I don’t know if my readers would be interested. So I’ll leave it at that. Please share your thoughts.
Yes sir. I said exactly that.
I was a school teacher in Bihar. I had a normal life like everyone else. In 2002, the train I was travelling was attacked by terrorists and I lost one of my legs in the explosion. The wheelchair I’m travelling now is a gift from the current MLA. I have nothing to hide. So I said exactly that–See boss, I’m a poor guy trying to make an honest living. Let me be.
I looked in the eyes of the former teacher. It was there in his eyes – that particular look which says ‘What I’m saying is true. At least part of it is so’. It was a random Saturday morning and I was out cycling alone. I met him while sipping tea at the roadside stall run by Surinder.
“So I was searching for a place where I can set up a stall like he does (gestures towards Surinder) instead of saving roadside stall people from policemen and then accepting their favours. I was just about to leave, and that is when he asked me to wait a little while so that I can meet you in person.
Wow. That’s quite an honour and I’m thankful for your waiting to meet me.
So this guy here asked me if I would mind waiting a little more, and he’ll show me the fastest bike in this route.
Really? What makes Surinder think I ride fast? I’m clueless. I never wanted to be fastest, but I’d love to be a long distance rider. So I thanked him and offered a cup of tea. After the usual petting with Sheru and Laali, I was about to move.
That’s when Surinder told me: Don’t you believe anything he says. Do you think he was a teacher? Does he behave like one?
I also think he wouldn’t have been a teacher.
He has tried his best to control his tongue, yet every third sentence he utters begins with an abusive word. It’s very unlikely that such a person would be a teacher. I imagine what his students would feel in class.
Surprisingly he offered Surinder if he would partner with him to offer illegal liquor or entry-level drugs. Even if the police finds out or interferes, he’ll use his Disabled trump card to get around the situation.
“Don’t you know that sir? Most of the illegal liquor and entry level drugs are supplied by these so called disabled people, because the police personnel have mercy on them”
I don’t know what to say. I left him on that note. Is there a similar situation in your city? Please share your thoughts.
What are you doing in my territory?
Honestly I didn’t have the answer to that question. I looked into his eyes and I felt that he really meant it that way. I thought – yeah really. What was I doing there anyway?
When you are on wheels (well, this applies for walking as well) you don’t mind spending some more time exploring different routes and paths. So our little family chose to extend our usual route a little further and see what lies ahead. Taking frequent breaks for tea and some interesting conversations we went ahead beyond the usual construction sites, high rise apartments to see something unusual — agricultural fields beyond the city limits.
I got off my bike to get a closer look at the fields, and that’s when I saw them. A small herd of deer-like animals. “Black bucks” – the wife told me. I tried to reach a little more close and suddenly saw that their leader – a large male, taller and stronger than the average city horse – staring at me without blinking an eye. I was speechless. He was some 200m away staring at me, ready to charge at the first instance of my movement. May be not.
There was this conversation going on between us the silent way:
The Silent Conversation
He: Who are you?
Me: I’m a cyclist, trying to reach out to peaceful roads. Anyway I don’t think it would make a difference. You would look at me as just another hostile human being.
He: This is my territory. My home. I’m born and raised here. What are you doing here?
Me: My apologies. if you think I’m intruding into your territory. I didn’t want to cause trouble to you or frighten the ladies and the little ones. I was just passing by when I saw you and wanted to say hello. That’s all.
He: The large objects that cause noise here…do you know what those are, and what they do? They don’t seem to be helping the growth of plants here.
Me: I’m sad about that, captain. These are machines. They mix cement. And the ones that run on wheels – they are called trucks. They are not here to grow plants. In fact they are brought here by my people to make buildings – places to live. They clear the trees and plants from the area and fill it with concrete piles of different sizes and shapes.
He: So that means your people are clearing up my home to make homes for their children? I’m sad that I’ll have to keep running from place to place to keep my family safe. Well. At least your people have homes to live. But can you please ask your people not to kill my family?
Me: I’m equally sad to know I’m not able to do anything about it. Well, one thing I promise you: I won’t live in this concrete jungle made my clearing up your home.
He: Bye, stranger. We might not meet again.
Me: I’m not sure about that. At least I’ll keep visiting here all weekend.
On that note we parted ways. I still keep visiting that stretch during weekends, but haven’t met the captain or his team again. Not sure if they were driven away by the ‘developers’ of the area, or some film star has shot them off.
Believe me, I did keep visiting the same road and even kept waiting. Hoping that I would have a glance of the herd once again. They’ll come, my heart says.
Have you had the luxury of crossing roads with wild animals? I would love to hear your experience.
Image Courtesy: http://www.thewildlifeofindia.com