Cycling fascinates everyone at childhood and one learns with many falls and scars on knees and elbows; undeterred and unfazed even by the scolds of parents or cycle owners, especially in our old days when small bicycles were are a rare commodity. It was a luxury when I was given ownership of bicycle to cycle to college, akin to what kids feel when they get cars for college nowadays.
My bicycle had no mudguards, as I removed these to make my bike a bit stylish and to be different than the crowd (had been known as `firangee’ bicycle) and got lighter by two kilos at least. I used to service the bicycle myself and overhaul every few months to keep it in top conditions. I remember the longest cycling trip I made on my bicycle – Ambala Cantt. to Mohali, Chandigarh and back in one day.
On joining my regiment in 1984, I bought a BSA bicycle, the best in those days. I used it for about 6 years and then gifted it to an Irula tribal boy who worked with us on the wildlife film `THE GOOD SNAKE’, at Chennai. Thereafter I lived without a bicycle till I bought one in 2005 and did not ride it more than 50 kms in few years. My assistant lost it one day, God knows, may sold it off. Have been wanting to buy a bicycle again, but never know that I shall be buying this great bicycle Trek 4300 D. Now, I feel I am a blessed soul who got to ride this wonderful bike.
I used to wonder looking at these cycles from the West, thinking they are well made and well designed, but very expensive for nothing much to ride. Also, wondered why they are so mad about cycling. I was quite baffled when I met a `cycling tour escort’ from Holland in 1990, who was camping in a hotel at Alleppey for three months. He was conducting cycling tours in Kerala. What were they supposed to do – just cycle on a predefined route and they were getting logistical support by a vehicle bound ground team. I was wondering why a foreign tourist group should come all the way from the West just to cycle around. But I got the answer now after 22 years, after having bought my own TREK 4300D, after I was bitten by the `cycling bug’ when I had a test ride.
In 1996, I met two cyclists at Ambala Cantt., who had cycled all the way from Holland and Germany. I hosted them for two days, but never even thought of asking them about their bicycles … the usual Indian mind set – bicycle is a bicycle so what’s great about these, as these are also bicycles and one has to peddle around. Though, I learnt about the cycles a bit that these were light weight bicycle and were fitted with panniers which won’t let rainwater seep inside. But never tried to touch the bicycles or ask for a test ride, probably as I was hesitant to ask the strangers. I wish I had asked and I would have been riding bicycles since those days and with better health.
I am happy that I am cycling now, BETTER TO BE LATE THAN NEVER …