Rediscovering the joy of Cycling
“Life begins at 40.” I always believed it is supposed to be some form of fortification against fears of advancing age. It is also a fact that I’d heard the same line when I crossed 30, albeit glorifying the smaller figure. Must admit I expected the Thirties to be some kind of a magical era and I waited for my moment of glory under the sun. Alas! Like all the unrequited loves of my life, it somehow never sought me out.
Hence my mountain of apprehensions about that same line as I stepped into the Forties. Must admit though – life has assumed a phenomenally different perspective at this age.
We women are the pillars of our respective houses but some how we mostly fail to hold up ourselves. Exercise and good health is a significant area of neglect for most of us in this context. It had taken years of persistence of a much suffering better half to convince me that I needed to start exercising. “Well, for good health,” he had said.
I knew better. Interpret that as an untamed tummy, an extending chin, dull skin, constant fatigue and what not. “Yes, you cannot stop its advancement nor can you prolong life. But make your old age, when it is to come, graceful..... with good health at least.”
And with this line, he won. Hands down!
Cycling has always had its appeal for me...ever since I was in school. I remember pestering Dad once for the cycle along with my Bro. Dad wouldn’t give an ear to it initially.
Fortunately for me, arrangements for my Bro’s Upanayan were on, the donning of the sacred thread paraphernalia. He played the masterstroke by agreeing to the cycle...Bro’s request, his Upanayan gift and my pestering…all settled at one go. But Oh! the glee at finally having a cycle that too from a North Star of a Father, I was simply ecstatic
Anyway, I chose that time of all times to fall and dislocate a nerve. So ultimately when that Sparkling Avon did arrive, my Bro was the unchallenged solo contender for the first ride and quite a few more thereafter. I have never forgiven myself for the bad timing. With plastered legs, I could simply look at it with longing eyes and drooling lips when the two-wheeled beauty arrived at last.
But not one to give up so easily, a week later, I did manage to coax Bro dear to get it close enough to the bed so that I could at least sit on the saddle for sometime, notwithstanding the severe pain I’d feel while raising my leg. I vividly remember faking that smile amidst it all, lest Maa got alarmed and promptly disembarked me from my dream ride, though she would give me one of those much dreaded ‘arched eyebrow frowns’ the moment she’d see me up to such misplaced bravado. She didn’t fuss much though.
Guess she realised how much it meant to me and was sympathetic enough.
Well, the clouds of separation soon passed and I was reunited with my Love. But reality struck the moment I got onto the saddle. You see, I DIDN’T know how to ride the cycle. My dreams of riding down streets with the breeze blowing my hair, the smile on my lips and a song in my heart, lay shattered.
Time again to fold hands in front of a tyrant of a brother. But no, he has foreseen his opportunity as well. The later I learn, the more prolonged would be his solo run with it. Great! But to give him his due, the poor thing did try, only to give up too easily, I felt.
Once he gave up with angry looks, I got hold of Dad. He tried with a teeny weeny bit more of enthusiasm than Bro dear. But umhmm…ended in failure. I realised I had to take affairs in my own hand. We had a small Balcony in front, the railing coming just above my head at that time, hardly 7 feet in length. But that was my pillar of support.
It never let go of me. I held on to it with my left hand and tried to hold on to the handle with the right and pedal at the same time. It was a long lasting affair…so much so that if that balcony would have been a bit ‘handsomer’ it would have been my first love. After a week or so of single minded devotion (I swear even a fraction of it would have seen me atop the Everest) I was able to balance and steer my ride without much hassle. Mission Accomplished! And I remember the scowl on my Bro’s face then, fiercer than the Bull dog’s, now that he would have to share the Baby with me for a part of every evening.
But the bliss of it…Oh! It was glory. I remember, riding down streets with a perpetual smile, feeling thrilled and feeling FREE. It was heaven….well closest to it at that time.
The cycle had been my companion on many a ride thereafter, specially the evening rides after school. Going for group studies with my friends to their house……raring to go for the ride with my buddies after studies were over. Life was beautiful and …….voila, it again is. I have rediscovered my first love once again albeit, a bit later in life.
In fact, I have developed an addiction for Running as well. Having completed a couple of Half Marathons and given my initial aversion for any form of physical exercise, I feel I’ve covered some ground towards healthy living.
I hope every woman gets such opportunities to reinvent herself at the right time when required, so that life seems how it actually ought to – BEAUTIFUL. A Happy Woman, after all, translates to a Happy Home.
Our Cycling and Running groups are lessons in positivity, inspiration and goodwill. At every opportunity we make it a point to be amidst the marvels of Nature. We go for rides to the outskirts, the rocky terrain, the muddy slopes, the uphill sweat outs – all exposing new joys of cycling besides helping me discover the beauty of the city I grew up in.
The cycle perhaps has become a bit more sophisticated, the roads a bit more treacherous, the faces riding alongside may have changed but the pleasure remains the same. The joy of it all…the ride, the breeze, the bumps, the up hills while looking out for the down hills, the admiring glances from passers by, the friendly banters, the roadside chai…all seem to have brought back my childhood days.
The best moments now are when I have my daughter too, enjoying her ride alongside me, bonding with Nature which, I strongly believe, is one helluva good teacher.
And Boy…do I consider myself lucky at rediscovering innocent pursuits that free the soul from trepidations! Cycling has become a catharsis for all life’s woes and I plan to hold on to this remedy for good.
You must also read Sangeeta’s ; Sunshine Freedom and Flower- with children in Nature
Written bySangeeta Bhattacharjee
Sangeeta Bhattacharjee is an Educator, Media Professional, Sports & Adventure Enthusiast. Travelling is her Passion along with Writing. She is also associated with her Husband’s adventure tourism-based company Natventure Guwahati. With a perpetual positivism towards life, Sangeeta believes in discovering something new at every unexpected twist that Life has to offer.