This World Bicycle Day I want to share with you what cycling has done to my overall fitness levels.
I grew up in Jaipur, Rajasthan and did my schooling, and college also from that city. Like many other boys, I too was admitted to a good school in Jaipur, thanks to my parents. I was 9 years of age when I took up that admission.
My school was 3 kilometers from my house. But for me, that distance was intimidating. For a 9-year-old, even one kilometer is quite a distance.
During those days, my father had had a cycle. It was a Hind cycle and it was my father’s conveyance until 1975. That year, he decided to upgrade his vehicle and went in for a Lambretta. But the cycle remained as an integral part of our household items.
When the new scooter came to our house, my elder brother decided to learn cycling which he did after a few weeks of consistent effort. I was too young to even try that craft.
One day, after I had turned 9, my elder brother decided that I needed some daily exercise. But what kind of exercise did I need?
This wasn’t a difficult question for him to answer. His reply was straightforward- I will carry your bag on the cycle and ride it, you guys follow me running. The word, ‘guys’ refers to me and my younger brother.
Any protests were ignored by my elder brother and my mother. I was commanded to do what he had ordered. And this is how my daily running activity started.
So each day, we would follow our ‘boss’ huffing and puffing on foot while he cycled to school. Each day, we ran 3 kilometers to school on our ‘boss’s ‘ orders. If we stopped running, we ran the risk of reaching our school late so it was important that we maintained our running pace.
Of course, there were so many other school-going, children whom we met on the way and each one of them had a queer expression on his face. ‘Why are you guys running in your school uniform right now?’, they would ask. ‘ Tch tch, I feel so sorry for you kids,’ some parents would say,’ can we drop you to school on our scooter?’ We fought back our emotions while running as there was no point arguing with them. We had to reach our school on time.
Over a period, we started covering this distance easily. Running to school had built up stamina in our little bodies. However, the morning jog to school still wasn’t something that we had begun enjoying.
We continued our morning jog until the next academic session when my parents decided to buy me a cycle. By then, I was smart enough to have learned cycling. So, from class 6 onward, I had become cycling to school. From that class to the year that I graduated from school, either I cycled all the way or simply walked down. And that is what helped me in becoming a fitter person.
Today, I can jog for 6 kilometers non-stop and walk up to 20 kilometers a stretch. In my college days, I could cycle 8-9 kilometers a day and even manage to carry a 90-kilo classmate.
I can still remember that on three separate occasions, I cycled 40 kilometers one way to reach my dream destinations. Once I rode to Jaigarh and on another occasion, I rode up to the Ramgarh lake in Jaipur.
My third tryst with cycling happened in 1992 when I rode up to India Bridge in Gujarat. It was one hell of a ride that ranks very high in my travel memories.
I thought I should bring up this post on World Bicycle Day to share my experiences on cycling. Do you have a similar story? Do share here.
Incidentally folks, I also conduct history and heritage walks in Delhi. Should you like to participate in one of them, please click this link, and we will plan your experience.