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Pedalling on a dream

A late entrant to the pleasures of cycling now rules the tracks like a master

Till my early 20s, I could barely ride a bicycle. I never really felt the need to ask my father to buy me a bicycle. My primary school was next to my home. My higher primary and secondary school was residential. Then I moved to a city for graduation, and I stayed in a hostel that was just behind the college. After getting a job, it started to occur to me that I had crossed the age to learn to ride a bicycle.

A few years later, I had a tear in my knee and when the pain became unmanageable, I had to undergo a meniscectomy. So to strengthen my knee after the surgery, I had to see a physiotherapist. When the suggested exercises felt so repetitive, I asked him if riding a bicycle could do the same job, and he said yes. So, that’s how I brought a bicycle for myself.

I was feeling awkward out there struggling to learn a bicycle in my 20s. So I restricted my learning to late evenings, once the darkness started setting on the horizon. It didn’t take much time to find the balance, and I was happily riding around boasting to my friend when I rode 10 or 20 km a day.

I later happened to acquaint myself with cycling groups. So the initial 20 km became 40, 80 and 100. We would ride to nearby towns, hills and tourist spots, but I always lagged behind. Sometimes, on the ride back, when I could push no further, I would pack up and put my bicycle into a rickshaw and go home. The other days, when I could complete a ride, I would come home burnt out and lie flat on the ground.

As rides passed, my muscles started building itself up against the challenges, and I could slowly feel the changes that enable me to push for more. And that is how I could try riding over 100 km a day and then hesitantly tried my first tough brevet event of 200 km. Though I didn’t finish it in time, I completed it. Though I couldn’t call myself a randonneur, I had gained enough confidence that I could be one by the next one such event.

The motivation would come from the youngsters who would go for multiple laps on hill routes when I would be struggling to complete one. It would also come from those 60-plus who would wish you as they cross you riding downhill when you are still sweating and panting to reach the top. There was no dearth of inspiration as there were people from the same city cycling clubs who had finished national and international events and events like seven days and 2,200 km.

What then started as a mode of exercise to strengthen my knee, turned into a hobby and then it became a routine. The freshness it would give, though with a trace of pain in your legs, ankles and thighs, was great. Moreover, the whole process built a confidence that I can endure lot more difficulties, and tough times in life.

So I learnt that age is no bar at all for a new adventure in life. There are lots of reasons you couldn’t do or try something at some age but that should not hinder you from trying it at a later stage in life. I have seen so many people who retire from a hard-earned life with no clue how to spend all the time they are going to get.

Go for that thing which makes you feel great. Let your age not be a barrier. Life always gives a chance to live it to the fullest. It’s just that we must give ourselves a chance to grab it with open hands.

ashokbbalakrishna@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 6:15:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/pedalling-on-a-dream/article31129733.ece

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