14 Jun 2013

It's All About The Bike : )

On the list of FAQs to a cyclist, the most frequently asked is, "So, when did you start cycling?" My answer, "At two n a half years" is factually correct...well, it was a tricycle, but it still holds true right? I was five when I got my first bicycle. It came with four wheels (two extra for support), though that didn't last very long kind courtesy my Dad who turning a deaf ear to Mom's protests promptly proceeded to take off the support wheels. You see, he was from the old school and therefore of the firm opinion that the only way to learn cycling was to fall off a few times, which was pretty much in sync with his theory of jumping into the deep end of the pool to learn swimming! Needless to say I ended up doing loads of both, falling off and jumping in...and if cuts, bruises and scrapes were medals, I would be wearing enough rows to beat a Russian general! I take this opportunity to acknowledge my gratitude to the manufacturers of Band-aid, Dettol and the Tetanus vaccine who ably supported me in these endeavours. As for Mom's opinion of Dad's army style induction of his daughter into sports? Well, let's just say it's best not discussed here! 

Now, about my first REAL bike! I remember it as 

clear as day, the exact moment I first set my eyes on it. I was in class 3 and my Dad had gone to Delhi for some official work. He was flying back in an AN-32, and Mom and me had gone to receive him at the airport. I remember we were waiting and quite a few people had already disembarked but we couldn't spot Dad. Then suddenly, I saw him walking towards us from a different direction, wheeling alongside this shiny, gorgeous, red beauty! It didn't sink in at first, but then I saw my parents smiling in anticipation of my reaction, and I knew! With a whoop of unmitigated joy in full view of all those in the vicinity, I ran and hugged...my bike, while poor Dad stood by patiently for his turn : p

As the years went by, a bevy of cycles followed and there were countless rides...to parks in the evening on school days and friends' homes on Sundays; the library in the mornings and the pool in the evenings during long summer vacations; packing backpacks with sandwiches and biscuits to head out for picnics with friends...et all. Even when I went off to college, my bike would be ready and waiting when I came back from the hostel on holidays. As a matter of fact, the very first time my husband saw me was when I rode past him on a bright green BSA with a satchel full of books on my way to the library. Then came a long break of almost 15 years until the 10/10/10 ride which got me back on the saddle and there's been no stopping since!

Riding a bicycle is an indescribable feeling that is perhaps best summed up by Diane Ackerman, "When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart." Well said, coz when I'm on the saddle, there's only place for a quiet sort of joy and peace in my heart. Cheers to happy trails ahead!

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