Published in the Edit Page, Deccan Herald on September 17, 2009
You don’t forget cycling, you only need confidence and a good cycle.
My anticipation about the trip to Mahabaleshwar this time was fraught more with anxiety than exhilaration as I had this sword of Damocles dangling over my head, thanks to my daughter. “You better brush up your cycling this time when we get there. We are going to do a lot of it!”
“But I am not sure I can…” I trailed off, trying to build a feeble defence against a forceful opponent. “You don’t really forget cycling…!”, goaded a greedy inner voice, dangling a dangerous carrot. Also my earlier erratic efforts at sudden spurts of cycling in Kodai and Mahabs had surprised me in a positive way.
“No, I won’t take no for answer!” spoke my bulldozing progeny and the argument was closed. “One must test one’s endurance levels as one grows older,” the dangerous inner voice went again. “Come on! push the envelope!” So, I decided to push… er… the pedal. And there I was the next morning, at the centre of the market place, eyeing the old shop with cycles on hire. The shop fellow gave me a surprised look and got a reassuring smile in return.
Out of a motley collection of bicycles for the dainty(?), in various stages of disrepair, I went for the worse one, since we were both taller than average. It was no doubt, a wise choice. My daughter had opted for a broad wheeled roadster since cross bars weren’t a bar!
I took care to steer clear of the market place beginning to hum with early morning business. Once on the road, branching off to the Venna lake, I got on to the bike, carefully going through the rule book procedures. All good cyclists do.
My intelligent choice of the bicycle seemed to be a wizard! Put together specially for carrying the likes of me. The wheel made interesting noises. Try as I might, I could not put a finger to where they came from. The seat was far from comfortably supporting my derriere. The brake had obviously been laboured on for years on precarious downhill rides and was at the end of its tether. The handle bar and the front wheel clearly did not see eye to eye!
We trundled along warily, the bike and me. Any oncoming vehicle brought a warning shout from my daughter. The choice was between gracefully taking to the side of the road and an unladylike scamper for the ditch. I chose the latter.
Looking out at the panoramic valley view, I was overcome with quiet waves of foreboding at the thought of return… Uh! Though my daughter did not voice it, I think she thought it better not to belabour the experiment any more. We stepped out in a quiet mood and got onto our respective ‘vahanas’ and presto! I had my seat in my hand!
Well, to make a long story short, we had a rather introspective walk of an approximate 4-km back! Dragging our cycles, of course!