Cycling is an integral part of our growing up but it's sad how we gradually outgrow our cycles
The obvious reason in most cases is the aspiration of moving onto motorbikes, cars and so on. What we miss in the whole process is that some basic things never change or get replaced. Like the wheel, it cannot be reinvented.
We cycle not with the purpose of reaching our destination but to continue enjoying health and environmental benefits. We're reminded of these needs again in that phase of life when met with health concerns and faced with environmental challenges like pollution and global warming.
Coming back to my experience of how I took more than 20 years to get back on the saddle.
4 years back my wife Mahasweta decided to gift me a cycle. I've been contemplating for a while but not executing my plans of restarting the sport. My hesitations were around worries like, "I am too old to cycle" or "It's not safe to cycle on the road anymore" or even "I may have health problems If I cycle at this age!"
Finally, I went to Decathlon Whitefield and found myself an attractive yellow Btwin Rockrider. I took a few rounds in the store and made a purchase. This was my first step toward entering the awesome world of cycling again. After buying the cycle, I rode it back home for 5kms. This was a great achievement considering I was doing it after 2 decades. The best was yet to come. The first day always looks nice and easy but the real fun begins only when you do something regularly.
So let me tell you about my initial feelings and some of the challenges I faced as I started.
Stamina was limiting my no. of kilometers to a single digit. Even after a couple of months when I cycled to Cubbon Park (20kms both ways), I ended up sleeping for the entire day due to complete exhaustion.
Maintaining regularity was difficult. Even once a week was not possible for the initial one year.
Motivation to cycle. Initially, I would cycle alone and that was quite boring.
Issues like body pain, back pain, muscle pain was another deterrent.
Time constraints. Finding time in my busy schedule between home and office was a major challenge.
Safety on the road. This is another reason why most people discontinue cycling.
Chased by dogs early morning
What happened next?
One should not worry about all the challenges mentioned above at the same time. It will slowly go away with the right approach.
This is the process toward becoming experienced cyclists. In my case, I remember a funny incident that happened. I was upset with all the challenges and concluded that there must be something wrong with my cycle and hence all the problems. So I headed over to the Decathlon Whitefield Store almost a year and a half later and met Mr, Stanley. He was a polite and humble gentleman always ready to help. I took the opportunity to discuss my problems with him and requested to sell my cycle back to the store at a reduced cost. I still remember his reply, he said; “Sir, we sell cycles and not buy them back” but seeing my condition he offered to buy it himself, maybe to pacify me.
That gesture was really the beginning of a nice friendship between me and Mr. Stanley which continues till date. He became my untold cycling mentor (Guru). His first advice to me was to join their cycling community called "Weekend Riders." I found the idea interesting and joined immediately. Within a couple of days, the organized a ride toward Hoskote. It was close to 40 + kms (both ways) from my home.
We had to assemble on a Saturday morning near Hoody junction. I reached on time and met a set of enthusiastic riders waiting for others to join. It was the first time when I met Mr. Chandu Babu, another inspiring personality in my cycling journey as well as Mr. Rajneesh and a few more riders.
Now there is a reason why I've have mentioned this in detail. All of the above activities had a positive impact in overcoming my initial challenges.
How Cycling with the Community helped me overcome my challenges
Being in a group always helps to clock more miles. Your stamina automatically starts improving. Group dynamics help.
We tend to become more regular in cycling (starting from weekends initially). The excitement of meeting your group is very high.
The motivation for riding and seeing new places takes away the laziness.
A group is always taken seriously on the road. This ensures more safety while cycling.
Obviously, the dogs continued chasing but our confidence levels were higher to handle that.
Guidance from senior fellow riders on aesthetics and riding positions helps to get rid of body pain issues.
Many benefits of Cycling that has changed my life;
Health benefits. Free from physical ailments and better stress management
Got to know new people and made new friends in the process.
Was able to unleash my potential and explore my capacity to do more than what I thought I could.
Every extra kilometer covered during the process had pushed my mental barrier further.
Reclaim my lost hours. I can do more in the same set of conditions than earlier.
Was able to inspire a couple of my friends to take up cycling in the process.
It’s the real ME time I have with myself.
I really recommend the sport
Based on my experiences, I would definitely recommend everyone to take up some physical activity, especially cycling for multiple reasons.
It's a great way to reclaim your health, mental peace and time through your fast-moving stressful lives. I would highly recommend you to join cycling groups and communities to make the process easier for yourself. It's the best way to make more friends, get advice and tips from fellow riders and get motivated to ride more frequently and even commute to work if possible.
Inspire others to start cycling too by sharing your experiences and by encouraging them.
Next time someone curbs your enthusiasm and confidence about a cycling ambition because you don't have specialized equipment, point them in the direction of Siddalinga Swamy. A Brevet is a ride of independence, a chance for you to ride in whatever way you want with a focus on you, your bike and the road that lies ahead of you.