There was this bike (The non-polluting kind - cycles!) race organised by The Rotary Club of Thane of which, Meenu (A pretty young lady - Our friend Vandana and Ashok's daughter) happened to be a member. Even as she was telling me about it I felt the all too familiar bouyant bubble raising within me whispering again goading me to say 'yes', though I said 'no' [rather firmly]. Another friend Monica spoke for that bubble saying she knew I would eventually do it - I have become that predictable!
The cycling craze was there when I was in school(I remember the accidents more than anything else), later when I went twice or thrice to College (I had to follow this long winding bus to get back home and I cycled for 40 minutes fast behind the bus when I should have got back home in 20 minutes because I lost way), but gave up as it was not easy meandering the Madras crowd. I thought it had gone and I could rest in peace - until Raja Anna, gave me - It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
- Lance Armstrong's first book about his passion, the setback brought about by cancer, the struggle and eventually his triumph over it! After reading it I knew I had to experience the feeling he felt on the bike - there was this restless feeling that would come up every now and then. The following summer it was answered - Another friend wanted to participate in the mountain biking trip to Jallori pass organised by the Youth Hostels Association of India
and she asked me whether I would go along. I felt that was a call - and I went, cycled some of the way, dragged the cycle most of the way, but I tasted the wind on my back, and I should have known then that I would repeat it again!
I remember how the brakes had failed down the slope during the return from Jallori Pass, and how I dashed against a protruding rock so that I would not go over the road and into the valley, and for some time my nerves gave way - I did not take up cycling for quite some time. Meenu however brought back that familiar surge for a new adventure and the learning in the process. Evenutally, I decided to participate in the marathon (Age limit - above 15yrs), after my husband brought me this firefox which has just opened at Hiranandani, Thane. It was to be my gift for the Womens' day and how I love it!!
The only few things I lacked were - Well .....
I have not ridden a cycle since the Jallori pass day and the rather bumpy ending I had was not cheery enough to motivate me, I do not exercise (Unless watching exercise videos is counted!).
On the other hand, I had age on my side - no one expects me to perform like a winner, and frankly I don't have to look good while pedaling like the young ones have to! Another thing - I am practically fearless except for lizards and the like.
So these were what made me get into the race. On Sunday at 6:40a.m. I left home by a rick and waited for my husband who came riding the cycle to the venue - I could not afford to start tired!I basked under the admiring glances I saw the little ones and the older kids gave my cycle - one child thought it was a 'duplicate' firefox, and the incredulous look on their faces when I told them I was the owner and the cyclist - that was so funny I think it almost goaded me to win!
The race started. I am 37. There was another man about 32 yrs. The girl next to me was a fiesty 8 yr. old whom I wished good luck and who in return gave me a thumbs up sign. The 30 odd crowd was predictable - children between 10 and 16. I realised I was the oldest, and the youngest was the little kid next to me! They all started immediately, pounding on the pedals and some had shot off a kilometre or two ahead. I was cool, keen only on finishing the 6 km ride - mostly uphill and really uphill. The incline was killing my knees and I thought I would give up. Even the piloting police vehicle was slowly going only for me. I also felt a little stupid when I saw the grin on some faces, but I knew even as I looked at them that I was a winner - I was doing what they dared not for fear of making a fool of themselves, and that set me apart. There was this young man - one of the volunteers to steer the traffic away - who gave an encouraging smile and a thumbs up, and I did it - thanks to him! I had to stop for a second to catch my breath while on the way back but I finished the race. I was second last!
The young lady who was giving away the certificates to the participants announced that the race was officially over since aunty has returned - I took that with a pinch of salt! My husband took a snap of me getting off the bike, and it was all over in 25minutes.
I wish it was a longer race. I am going to do better next time! The loss is inspiring! Recently I read the abridged version of Michealangelo's biography
and it turns out that my daughter has to do sculpting on cement at school crafts this time - She gave me a left over cement slab the other day saying she knew I am taking up sculpting soon:)
If my visitors are in Thane please try to make it to the race next year. I have adopted this as my vehicle - you too can do it because together we can make this city a little greener and the world a little better for the future!