My first bicycle-to-work event….

The evening after…
Even this morning after I ignore the 5:15 wake-up alarm, I doze away in a tired sort of sleep telling myself rather hazily that today too doesn’t look likely. Then the vision comes back. That does it! I pull myself out of bed. I had been having too-many-bordering-‘enough’ of these visions!

These crisp visions, like good marketing tactics are of me riding to work through the most scenic part of the route – the stretch from Langford road to Hosur road via the cemetery. They started playing in my head since the day I decided that once a week I would bicycle to work. One cannot create a need I begin to realize and one should not try to design a sound reason for an impulsive act. The deed was done. The cycle was bought. I had been telling a few others and myself that this is what I propose to do with it. Behind this promise are however, simple, core truths close to my heart – it would be an adventure if I could do it – it would be a great fitness routine – it could lead to more conscious acts of being Earth-friendly!

While cycling, the rule is to find shorter or greener or less used paths. So I had decided an alternate route for the one stretch that had a choice of routes, long ago in my head – take one of the right turns from Langford road into the smaller, walker friendly lanes and head toward the cemetery and exit into Hosur road from there. The cemetery area with burial grounds for multiple religions side by side is a tree-filled, tranquil and beautiful stretch that even an increase in traffic (after Langford road was made one-way) did not seem to disturb.

I rush through my morning routine wanting to get ready before Mary-amma’s arrival. She comes in at 7:30 to do the daily chores and I want to get out of the house today by 7:45. It is 8 by the time I carry the cycle downstairs with Mary-amma’s help who though amused lets herself a bit into the excitement.

Here I go I think as I take position with the backpack laptop bag holding in addition to the laptop a change of clothes and some toiletries. This too like the ‘choosing alternate routes for cycling’ was among the pieces of advice from the bikers’ blog.

From Langford road I turn into one of the lanes on the right and head toward the intersection that leads to the road to the cemetery. There is traffic already on the roads and though I keep to my left, on the right side of the two-way road, cars bully past encroaching well into the side meant for folks heading the other way like myself. It was a little unnerving and to add to that this road was uphill. I was ready to give up and turn back home suddenly filled with doubts of whether this whole thing was really feasible.

The unknowns loom large preying the mind, slopes being the number one thing gnawing around. Then the gears, am I doing the right thing, am I using the right combination!
I continue, thankfully.

I reach the junction to Hosur road and instead of getting on to the main road I walk up the footpath to the Mico road and start bicycling again. I enjoy that stretch. It felt like I had learnt to cope with the traffic. As I neared silk board another tough slope had me pretty much out of breath. Here again I get off the bike and walk a bit to realize that my legs are wobbling! The rush of pushing the body and of adventure keeps me going through the rather crunching reality of my fitness levels.

I cross the road walking and as I stand there at the under-bridge’s entrance looking ahead tiredly at yet another slope, a fellow cyclist passes me by, waving at me, the thumbs-up sign! I lift my hand up to acknowledge and look at him for a while envying the ease with which he is riding before getting back to wondering why the gear was acting funny! I switch the front-gear back to 1 and mercifully the gear system starts behaving again and I attack the last slope. C’mon, c’mon you are almost there now! The last slope conquered, I cruise, happy, into our office premises.

For the ride back the mind is a lot freer though there are a lot more instances of taxis bothering and coming unecessarily close. I just claim my share of the road from all the bullies around and ride on. The more powerful the engines are the more disconnected and disillusioned with power are the people driving them! I think every one should cycle once in while to get in touch with their real-self; we will have less of engine-empowered bullies on the road.

On nearing the second under-bridge the menacing vehicles seem to disappear, a light drizzle is underway, I get to the safe extreme left and the best part of the day’s ride commences. The rain becomes stronger but it isn’t lashing heavy so I ride on, the spirit feeling as free as the rain. I was smiling more now and was nearing the stretch in the vision. This time around going down-hill I completely stop pedaling and absorb the tranquility of the trees and let myself be soaked in by the rain kissed atmosphere.

A bicycle makes the whole experience of going through the streets a lot more personal…seems to keep you right there in the moment making you tune in with everything around – the gravel, the mud, the pot-holes , the slopes, the trees, the breeze and the rain…

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