I learnt cycling in my boyhood days at Hartland , the home I grew up in .Sadly Hartland was sold to a builder who demolised it and build a four story monstrosity where once we spend such glorious days . The compound was cemented and not what you would call large but nevertheless I manged to learn to ride a cycle all by myself .Over time I gained in confidence and was soon on the roads on chores .Cycling was a common mode of travel for running errands in those days and also for the social evening get togethers at Kuniraman Stores or the Royapuram Beach. My longest rides were with my dear friend Cedric ,as we cycled together to the Madras University Campus at the Marina each year ,to check on our results during our days at the College of Engineering ,Guindy.
It’s ages since I’ve been to Royapuram , that peaceful little hamlet of my boyhood days .Kuniraman Stores still exists , or did when I was last there but the beach has been taken over by an extended Jetty of the Port Trust .Royapuram itself has transformed completely into a goods warehousing and logistics hub .It’s is no longer the loveable hamlet we grew up in .Most of our dear friends and neighbours have shifted out to others locations in Chennai or have migrated to Australia , the US or the UK .
Earlier this year, I made a year start resolution to take to out door bicycling, as a pastime and as a mode of keeping fit .I dont know and dont remember what influenced me to go down this route .Perhaps a stray article in the newspapers or magazines . It so happened that on a field visit to Chandigarh ,later in the year, I chanced upon a cycle shop for Trek & Firefox sports cycles !! I did realise then how expensive these cycles are ; far above the few thousand rupees I thought they would be . Nevertheless , I had made up my mind to take to this sport and a month or so later, bought myself a Schwinn Searcher Sports cycle .Relatively modest in price but a cycle that seemed to meet my needs .I like this cycle and have been enjoying cycling sessions on Sundays and holidays ever since. It had been forty odd years since I last rode a cycle .Baring a bit of a wobble for the first km or so , ridng a cycle came back quite naturally as if I had been doing so all this while .
I chalked out a route from my place of residence at Sheikh Sarai ,along Outer Ring Road ,turning into the Asiad Road down past Ansal Plaza to make a U- turn at the Ring Road and cycle back to the Outer Ring Road , looping around under the Chirag Flyover .This circuit is approx 10 Kms and I have been covering three rounds on certain days and a lesser load of 2 rounds on other days . Modest I would say !! Just loved the stress busting sessions and the sense of peace and calm I felt .At times I challenged myself to greater spead and effort levels but this was not really the reason for my taking to the cycle .However one does need to acquire a fair degree of endurance and speed as these determine your proficiency in the sport .I dare say every one of us must aspire to achieve a fair degree of proficiency in any endevour.
Col Vijay Dhawan then introduced me to a cycling club started by Gagan Khosla . These guys are closer to being semi if not professional cyclist who arange long distance cycling stints from time to time .Their next adventure is the challenging ride from Manali to Leh !! Now that’s some thing , isnt it ? For the last few Sundays, I’ve been joining this group on their early morning cycling sessions around the Chanakyapuri , India Gate , Teenmurti ,Nehru Park area. It’s been good fun though I am no where near the speed and fitness of the others. This is a nice bunch of people and a good group to be associated with .
Seeing this group in action has made me resolve to step up my effort levels and strive for greater speed and endurance. Looks like I have to get into a spell of strength training . I dont particularly like the idea of going to a gym ,so must seek out other forms of strength training .That is the new challenge that lies ahead and I’m looking forward to it !!!