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Cycle of Passion

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

A ride from Bangalore to my home in Thrissur on a cycle was one that I had in my bucket list when I joined Indian Institute of Science for my Bachelors. The idea first surfaced on a night-time bicycle ride with my friends, in our freshman year. From then, it took more than 3 years for the idea to materialize, and I was the only one crazy enough to attempt it.


My passion for cycling started when I bought a new bicycle while I was in my fourth year of college. Shortly after, I did a ride to the beautiful Hesaraghatta Lake . That 40 km ride was the longest ride that I had done until then. The experience motivated me to continue exploring my newfound interest in cycling. A month later, I did my first century ride to Nandi Hills. The ride gave me a feeling that a 100 km on a bicycle is not too much, and helped fuel my interest in cycling. I made it a routine to conduct rides on most weekends, usually with one or more friends. These rides made me realize how underexplored Bangalore and its surrounding was and helped me gain new friends who share the same excitement for cycling. These experiences galvanized the thoughts about doing the ride that I’ve been longing to do.


Soon after the start of my semester break, I started off the ride on 4th of May. Though it was mid-summer, the scorching day temperatures were brought down by evening rains in the previous days. I started the ride at 4 AM, to take advantage of low traffic and the cool morning temperatures. For the 3-day ride, I had planned my stopovers for Day 1 and Day 2 at Mysore and Wayanad respectively. On the first day I travelled a total of approximately 140 kms, from Bangalore to Mysore. I reached Mysore by noon and checked in on the dormitory I booked. After a short nap, I had an early dinner followed by a short ride around the city in the evening. Since I had two days of ride ahead of me, and I had to start early the next day, I decided to go to sleep early. The next day I started off at 5 AM with a cup of coffee.


Bangalore to Thrissur (500Km)

For the Day 2, my plan was to travel through the Bandipur National Park, through the Muthanga forest, crossing the Kerala border and making the stopover Kalpetta (Wayanad). Unfortunately, soon after I crossed the Kerala border, it started raining and I could not continue my ride beyond Sulthan Bathery as planned. I decided to call it for the day and found a room in an inn for the night. Now that I’ve fallen behind my schedule and the target kilometers for the day, I had to make some changes to my existing plan. I’ve decided to pursue a shorter path for the next day, so that I could make it to my home by Day 3.


When I had decided the new route, I had no idea about what was in store for me that day. In fact, it turned out to be the best part of the 3-day ride and one that I would cherish forever. It was what I call as a roller-coaster ride, one that had a lot of uphills and downhills. Though it was physically exhausting, the scenic offered by the route made it possible to continue the ride with enthusiasm and energy. By mid-noon I had crossed the Naadukaani mountain pass, which had brought me to the elevation of my hometown. The ride thereafter felt cumbersome owing to humid weather, and exhaustion from the last two days combined with the ride leading up to that point. I had to make a lot of pitstops to hydrate and recharge, but at the end of the day, I was able to make it home by late evening.


There I had my siblings and parents waiting for me with whom I had been maintaining constant communication throughout the ride. For me it was a moment of accomplishment as I have crossed of one of my wishes in my bucket list. A total of approximately 500 kms were covered during the three days, spread over three states. The accomplishment reinforced my passion for cycling and fueled my aspiration to do long rides and into randonneuring.


Five years later, when I look back, I feel that the ride was purely born out of an adrenaline rush. There were so many unknowns and uncertainties, such as weather, health, safety, bike failure etc. to name the few. During the entire ride I was alone and completely reliant on self-support and there are many things that could have gone wrong, and I would’ve had to abandon the ride. But in the end, it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences that I had in my life. At no point during the ride, I felt that it was a bad idea to attempt the ride even when the weather had forced me to cut short my ride on second day and make changes to my existing plan.


My primary motivation for doing the ride was to discover something that I haven’t experienced in my life so far. Hence, I remember this ride every time I feel uncertain about taking an extra step that would put me outside of my comfort zone to discover something new. To me it serves as a reminder to step into unknown without being worried everything that could go wrong. It is also a reminder that the journey and the experiences that comes with it is the ultimate takeaways and not whether you succeeded or not. And, that inspires me to keep trying, no matter if I fail or succeed in my attempts to keep growing.


 

Ismath Sadhir is a PhD student at Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Germany; apart from pondering about Microbes , he likes traveling, photography and cycling.


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