The 100km ride

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."


Almost everything that could go wrong, did. Had a broken untimely nap last evening. Even the dinner last night was far too heavy. Had planned to go off to sleep early so that I could wake up by 4:15 AM for today's ride, but that didn't work out too. And to make matters worse, the mosquito repellant got switched off, which left me with hardly 3 hours of fitful sleep. Despite it, I managed to dream that I had overslept by an hour and failed to make it as planned (Sadly, I did start late, keeping the rest waiting!). Given all this and my complete lack of practice, my decision to go for today's 100 km ride was audacious verging on stupid. And yet, I did not want to miss it.

As we (Adda, three of his cyclist colleagues and me) rode through complete darkness, I decided to take it easy by tailing some of the riders. All I could see, without street lamps or cycle lights was the wheel of the rider before me. I trusted him blindly and merely followed. The mind suddenly became clear; all I saw was the tyre ahead of me. But after a bit of distance, I got into the groove, and set my own pace for the rest of the trip.

Some of the roads away from villages and towns were beautiful and the weather wasn't too unpleasant either as we headed off towards the Narsapur lake. Loads of monkeys lined the way, waiting for passing vehicles to distribute food. The lake itself was large, surrounded by small hills, but under a grey sky, all is grey. Loads of kids, seeing colourful cyclists waved at us along the way, wishing us luck for our "race", passers-by asked us about our journey and apparently even a reporter from a local channel/publication got talking to us and captured our pictures in action!

During the ride, it is almost impossible to hold your breath while negotiating all the ups and downs along the way, and one has no option but to breathe in the dust, the smoke, and even the stench of the dead these highways in India are so abound in. During the last leg, the temples are throbbing from all the heavy breathing through the nose, the face is caked in dirt, the shoulder is paining from carrying a heavy backpack, the legs are on the verge of refusing to carry the body's weight as you stand for a break...There are times when the body almost caves in when the road ahead is a steep uphill, there are times when the destination seems so far, and yet one must go on. Giving up is not an option. Well, the long shower that followed was heavenly!

Despite all this, would I do it again? I surely would. Small though it might be for some, in journeys like these, lie the potential to redefine everything.

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