Here’s what you know about cycling.
It makes you stronger, healthier, leaner.
It saves you money on fuel.
It’s eco friendly.
So……….why don’t you cycle? You’re probably one of three categories
1.You’ve got an expensive bike gathering dust in your store room. Tires flat, chain dry and rusted.
2.You’re planning to buy one “soon”
3. You’ve bought one, you’ve ridden it a few times and you’re considering putting it for sale on OLX/Quickr
I’ll tell you why!
Cycling is unpleasant. You get tired. Your butt hurts on the saddle. There’s dust and mud on the road, and the motorists treat you, like you treat cyclists when you’re in a car. Dogs chase you. You cycle for half an hour and come back to find that your weight hasn’t changed. Getting the bike back in shape (oil on the chain and air in the tires ) is a pain.
See how many excuses I came up with? And I’ve been cycling for a few decades now. Rain, snow, sleet, hail on two occasions, Indian summers (literally,Indian summers at noon) Kerala monsoons, Hartals, potholes. Everything. I’ve been through a lot on the cycle.
So, why do I cycle? Some people (OK, most people) think I’m not quite right in the head. That maybe true. However, I have my reasons.
It’s not the logical, big three reasons I’ve listed at the start of this post.
Logic will only get you so far.
Crazy, on the other hand, takes you wherever you want to go.
You’ve got to be a special kind of crazy to bike in India, especially when you’ve got access to cars and motorbikes.
Getting back to topic. Why do I cycle?
1. Freedom- Depending on how strong your legs are and how much time you have, you can go pretty much anywhere you like. All you need is a bike in running condition. Fuel prices won’t stop you. Traffic jams won’t, either.
2. An alternative to meditation.
In today’s life, you’re always planning, thinking ahead, distracted, checking your facebook account and whatsapp. Attending phone calls. Watching TV while cooking or slogging on the treadmill. Multitasking sucks. Admit it. You’re never truly at peace.
Try multitasking on a bike. You’ll get hurt, or killed. Cycling forces you to be alert. It forces you to be present, focused. You’re at peace because your worries can’t keep up with you, even if you’re huffing and puffing along at 10kmph.
I find that it calms me down, takes away rage and frustration.
3. Fun with friends. Crazy birds tend to flock together. Even if their feathers are very different. There’s no denying that crazy friends are the most fun to be around with. Gossiping over tea and discussing the merits of salt vs sugar in lime soda is a lot of fun. Topics will veer from politics to food and of course the evergreen favorite, “do I need to upgrade my bike”? (The answer is yes, btw)
4. The immersive experience. There’s no air conditioning. You’re not cocooned. You can smell the spices on the street, the cooking from the kitchens, the rubbish on the roadside. Living is an experience. If you can’t experience things that bring you happiness, you’re either dead, or in prison. Cycling fills your senses with experiences that motorised transport can’t give you.
5. Stories. You meet people. People you’d never get the chance to see when you’re in a car. Fuel thieves, bootleggers, fishermen, shopkeepers who stock the most esoteric goods. You see places that you wouldn’t have been able to reach in a car or on a motorbike. If a wall blocks your way, climb it with the bike on your shoulder. If the guard on the other side doesn’t share your spirit of adventure, apologise, or, lead him on a merry chase.
You’re putting yourself out there, no shields, no barriers. Ready for the world to talk to you or knock you down. It’s openness and honesty, and most people reciprocate that feeling. You’ll find the world is not as bad as the papers and TV make it out to be.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself” Your starting to cycle, changes you. It won’t change the world(not right away, at least), but it changes the way you perceive it. And that’s as good as changing the world.
When I manage to find time to sit still, I’ll write another post on how to start cycling regularly(A.K.A changing the world).
Right, now, it’d be good if you could put a few drops of oil on your chain and fill your tires up. Go for a spin.