Cycling Experiences With Saumya
Cycling Experiences With Saumya7 mins 224 7 mins 224
What's that wish that makes it to every Bucket List?
Upon asking what a teen would want for his 18th birthday, “A vacation abroad”, my neighbor, replied. My granddad, when asked about his anniversary plans excitedly claimed, “striking off another place from our"To Visit List!”. Aspirations like these, strengthen my opinion, that traveling is the most sought-after part of our lives!
From fun and frolic to spiritual rejuvenation, everything is so centered around traveling.
To peripatetics, traveling brings along joy, excitement, and thrill. Anything stationary to them is like a colorless rainbow!
Who knew this better than an 11-year-old hodophobe who had been devoid of the joy of witnessing the dreamy and exquisite scenery, flapping her feet in the illusionary underwaters and watching the diverse wildlife in the enchanting woodlands, for years now. Oops! I forgot! Don’t know what hodophobia is, right? It is the fear of, traveling. To you, probably just another branch to the endless phobias, to me, nothing less than a curse of stillness.
Eliminating the tedious and somewhat dispiriting initial phases of my story, I'll take you through it from the time, my recovery graph started.
My psychiatrist almost gave up on me, with the lapsing months and no results of the exposure therapy, in sight. Poor Hannah! My inability to revert to her efforts made me feel miserable. No later than 2 years she left. Fearing that the feeling of self-efficacy would never imbibe in me, my dad took charge of helping me overcome my hodophobia.
It all started 16 months ago. To initiate my revival my dad handed me an article. Tour de France, the 2-page long article was all about Britain, turning the tide of British cycling with the help of Dave Brailsford- their performance director. Dave’s strategy of “aggression of marginal gains” was not quite clear to me until my very own drill started.
When asked what it exactly meant, “don't get into the technicalities, if it was enough to make you realize that a journey of any distance can be completed taking one step at a time and then repeating it, the purpose is solved,” he said. “You are to extract your capability and not pity your current ability!”. The entire week was thereafter spent changing my mindset and instilling in me a purpose to travel beyond my alleged permanent constraints.
Next week dad came to me in the morning and announced - “Today is an important day. I have to introduce you to your new friend”. He smirked. Excited yet puzzled, I gazed at him. As if being introduced to a Bollywood star, I was taken outside my home.
Standing majestically with a tilt, on the black tar carpet, stood a new bike. I ran my hands all over, soon to be my friend, Speedy. The smooth curved seat, rugged tyres, the bright neon colors, all were so fascinating! With a grin like a Cheshire cat on my face, I pedaled gradually and we moved forward. My joy knew no bounds.
I cycled till Mr. Tot's house- our neighbor. As soon as I realized that I had increased my pace, the anxiety returned with short tremors in my hands. I started to sweat and immediately applied breaks. My heart was pounding, my head throbbed and I felt dizzy. Consequently, I decided to get off from Speedy. As soon as I stood up from its seat, dad held my hands and said: “Don't you give up!”
I gathered my courage and with his aid started to peddle again. Gradually and gingerly he whispered, “just change the gear now as we cross the lake.” Noting my reluctance, he pressed my shoulder and said, “go for it”. I obeyed. Initially, the anxiety returned in bits but then I was distracted by the chestnut brown horse that ran on the periphery of the lake. The spiky hair and a large white patch on his nape added to his flying angel-like persona. Beautiful!
“Wanna explore more?” I nodded. Gradually we increased our pace. With a frown on my head, I extended my hands to lower our momentum. From the back seat, again a sound said: “just enjoy the view.” Encircling the lake as we went, the greenery caught hold of my sight. The recently trimmed grass topped with the bling of dewdrops was such a blessing to the eyes! The small aquatic life inhabiting the lake’s running freshwater was bliss! Upon reaching home dad had an expression on his face as if asking “so how was that?” “Dad I wanna thank you”, I muttered. “I haven’t had such an amazing day in a long time”. I hugged him and went to bed. The excitement of going the next day out with Speedy, made me retire early that night.
I know, to a man consumed by wanderlust, perhaps the illuminated Eiffel tower on a windy day or perhaps visiting the eight wonders of the world would only be fun, but to me, somehow, the rides on speedy were enough. The following week was led the same way- starting to change gears from Mr. Tot’s house, encircling the lake, and returning home.
I never imagined I could travel at a speed more than 20 km per hour until I experienced it. My itinerary for the next week may sound a bit queer to you. Well, initially it was to me, too! Unlike what I thought, it was all about learning different breathing patterns. Yes, styles of how to inhale n exhale air! Seems strange does it not? After all, isn’t that automatic?
“Don’t worry”, my instructor was pretty well prepared. "For chronic mouth breathers, it's important to learn how to breathe via nostrils. In the long run, it poses hurdles while traveling at higher altitudes. When you learn to travel tomorrow, I don't want anything to stop you. Anything! not the minutest of the reasons.”
The following two weeks were all about rigorously practicing yogic methods such as Pranayama and stomach centered breathing exercises. Strengthening my calf muscles to keep pedaling for a longer duration, was next on the list. Incremental improvements further included atlas 2.0 being installed and renewed with the big gear to ease the process of descending and traveling at high speeds.
My drill went on and then one day, amalgamating all the baby steps, I decided to bicycle without any assistance.
Now, I know it was surely a turning point. That day, Speedy made a tire mark beyond the trodden path. Our normal course was left behind. For someone who had just seen the vivid pictures in the fictions or perhaps heard about it in the lullabies sung, witnessing the ever-changing nature himself, was nothing less than a dream come true!
Initially, residual doubts about accelerating held me back but the site of the mesmerizing sunsets dissipated those thoughts. Apprehension returned frequently. Shutting my eyes to the frightening palpitations, I felt the warmth of the sun piercing through the layers of my skin and the cool breeze caused my jacket to fluff and hair to fly. Now there, I went Wohoooo! I just couldn’t stop my toes from accelerating Speedy.
Ever since there was no turning back.
Bit by bit my dad built a cyclist out of a hodophobe. Today, having been on more than 13 bicycling expeditions, many of my major learnings include a firm belief in a famous quote by Greg Lemond-“It never gets easier, you just go faster.”
“George you up there?” Suddenly a voice interrupted. Marnie walked up the stairs. “What are you up to George?”
“Nothing much! Just finished reading my favourite novel.” “For the 50th time, I presume?” George giggled. “Really? George! All over again? What’s so special about it?”
Marnie, ‘Cycling experiences with Saumya’ is one such narrative I can’t stop reading and relate to the writer a lot. Every time I go through it, I feel the need to get up again. Walk, run, in fact, fly! Imagine such words coming from a crippled! Can you still not gauge the impact it has on me?”
George, I salute your ardent desire and truly respect your interest, ill surely give it a read someday. But for now, you better help me do the dishes. So shall we?”
George nodded with a wide grin!