GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE
It has been almost seven years of being on the saddle for me, now. In another three months, my cycle will be 7 years old. Aha. Great moment of pride. Cast in shadow by the plain fact that my last yearâ€™s rides were insignificant enough to not merit mention.
I checked my Garmin data. 58 rides. Just about 15% of my days in 2013 went in rides. And this is the year when I helped set this store up, helped sell a few cycles and the idea of cycling. That just sounds wrong, doesnâ€™t it?
So, here it is. The bare-it-all on the big WHY.
As I ran through the â€˜rationalisationâ€™ for it, the angel and devil on the shoulder trick played out –
|Devil talk –||Angel talk –|
|First, the â€œBut I have so much to doâ€ trap. At work, I got charge of an extra function. That means double the time, no shortcuts. That also means spend early mornings thinking of work, while I should be out riding.||Nice excuse. Doesnâ€™t fly, really. Whatever happened to think on the fly. While riding. Fresh air, nice fresh thoughts. And hey. We all know â€“ you get the best ideas when cardioing.|
|Next, the â€œI have many stops to make on the wayâ€ ruse. I did often have to stop at some store or meet someone or do an interview on my way in or out of work. There is no reason to not take the cycle for these, except for the fear of, â€œwhat if I come out and my cycle is not there?â€||The answer to which is always, a philosophical, â€œshow me the guarantee card on lifeâ€ Okay. Iâ€™ve snubbed myself twice and Iâ€™m not even halfway into this blog post. This is going great!|
|â€œHey. I had to go to two different officesâ€ excuse.||Pull the other one. The second office was on my commute back home. A cycle instead of a bike wouldnâ€™t have made a difference.|
|â€œI was taking a breakâ€||Thatâ€™s what they all say.|
(You might have noticed, the Angel is a bit of a badass. That happens often :D)
After going through some jujube reasonsâ€¦
Pic courtesy: www.bubblews.com
Think Rajinikanth. No ring bell? Watch this. Jujube arrives at 1.21.
Diversion over. Now come back to angsty post!
So, I went back to my Garmin to look at rides in 2013. By March, most of my rides for the year were over . By the end of March, I was spending about 40% of my time riding â€“ commutes & long rides. That sounds about right â€“ the rest would be running & resting. So why did it all come to a screeching halt? One of the ride summaries of my commute had the answer â€“ and the past came tumbling back with technicolour clarity (or should I say Imax now? Hang on. Did I just give myself away as a Velociraptor from the Triassic age? Oh well.)
Pic courtesy – funfactsntruestories.blogspot.com
I remember with great clarity. 100 metres from work, I had 2 bikes behind me, 2 ahead and another bike came in full speed, without warning from a road on the left. Guys ahead of me braked, I cursed hard and braked, guy behind me braked and still hit me. Cycle almost fell but at the Bangalore speeds we go at, no biggie. Nobody hurt, I apologized to the guy ahead for cursing. He apologized back. The guy behind me apologized for hitting me, I said not his fault and apologized backâ€¦ basically, very gentlemanly behavior, all round. Heart beating fast, with wobbly knees, I reached office and forgot all about the incident.
In the evening, I was riding back to the store, when, just outside Ambara opposite Ulsoor lake this thing happened. There was a lot of traffic on that narrow lane, as it always is, post 4pm. I overtook a couple of slow-moving bikes on the left and came up to the right of an auto. I was still safely on the left side of the road. And the road ahead was clear enoughâ€¦ when without warning, a yellow board Innova (or maybe a Sumo. One of those big guys) in the opposite side of the road swerved to his right to overtake someone and was straight in my path with two car lengths to go. I braked hard â€“ the only thing I am good at doing, in panic situations. And this guy is still coming at me, on collision course. The auto is on my left, blocking an escape route and I just donâ€™t have enough time to go full right â€“ there are two vehicles on overtake mode there. I look back left, see with blurred eyes, the bamboo walls of Ambara and while a random thought flits across, â€œthatâ€™s the last thing I am ever going to seeâ€, I lunge left, just sheer panic and survival in mindâ€¦ and miraculously, the auto gathers speed, goes past. I graze the back of the auto and stumble clear. The car whizzes past me on the right.
The auto guy stops, the bike guys behind stop and ask if I am okay. They curse the crazy cab guy. They asked if I got the carâ€™s number. I managed to say something to the effect of, â€œI only caught some numbers which may be years of my life passing my, as my life flashed before my eyesâ€.
I was grateful for the sympathy from people, someone nicely game me water from my own bike 🙂 and patted me on the back, asked if wanted to call someone and waited till I wobbled off in the right direction.
I decided not to tell anyone at home about the incident and scare them. And decided against telling the boys at work â€“ Iâ€™d either get some well-meaning advice about riding safely and how not to take risks, or Iâ€™d get concerned masked as anger, which I needed about as much as a fish needed a bicycle just then. I managed to delay the reaction till it was time to hit the sack. And then, turns out, I hid the fear along with the incident and just got gun shy. For the rest of the year!
This isn’t my first skirmish with a road incident – I have been mugged and dragged off my bike (scooter) a few years back. My pillion rider was in the hospital overnight and I had a knee injury that took 6 months to completely heal. Compared to that, this ought to be tame. But things aren’t usually that simple. Â After a lifetime of being on a cycle, this was the closest I came to, to being snuffed out. And the fact that it should happen when on a beloved cycle unnerved me. It brought back an incident Pavan & I faced when out on a ride four years back – he saw a bus run over a man on a cycle and that man died almost instantly. I just kept remembering that incident almost every night. And that informed my decision to not ride, the next morning.
So, folks who might just be reading this post. We come to the most important part of the story.
This year, Iâ€™ve already spent about 25% of my cardio days cycling.
What did it take me to get there?
Encountering the past, going over it, give thanks for my lucky escape, and put it to rest.
Understanding that shit happens and will continue to happen.
There is not guarantee card on this fragile thing called life.
All I know is, I have this precious day to make good. And looking back, I didn’t make velo good for a large part of 2013.
I end this post with some reminders to self â€“
Stuff will knock you down, literally or otherwise.
You owe it to yourself to get up and move on.
Itâ€™s okay to take time over it.
Forgive yourself. Often. Being your own harshest critic is overrated.
Ride on! Ride on!
And with that, ladies & gentlemen, this post is a wrap!