Far away in my own world where no one meddles,
This is how I feel when I take out my bike and hit the pedals J
Chennai has indeed been a place of many “firsts” for me; never in my wildest dreams had I thought that I would be riding to work on a classy white Btwin cycle in the beautiful campus of IIT-M.
I attribute this feat largely to the cycling culture in the place; almost every student of IIT owns a cycle, and pedals their way to class, hostel, library, beach and other places in and around campus every day. At any given day, one can see thousands of colourful cycles on campus. Occasionally, one may also see a Prof. cycling on campus!
When I had earlier attempted to cycle in my college in Hyderabad, it wasn’t such a pleasant experience; the cycles given on rent by the college were poorly maintained and had brakes that wouldn’t work! Besides, there were trucks plying on the road outside college which I felt made it unsafe for cyclists to enjoy a leisure ride in the vicinity.
Cycling at IIT-Madras however has been a wonderful experience; one does not need to even step outside the gates of the University to feel a “cyclist’s high”. The sprawling campus dotted with its plethora of wildlife like the blackbucks, cheetal (spotted deer), monkeys and migratory birds make the activity of cycling here a highly pleasurable one. It is also a great way to explore the huge campus.
Although I started cycling just a couple of days back (the last I cycled was probably about 15 years back in Lucknow), I feel a sense of exhilaration and independence whenever I hit the pedals. I believe it is this feeling of being “unstoppable” when I whiz past people on the road that makes me look forward to cycling every day. Due to my bike’s amazing ability to bend around corners, I have also named my cycle ‘Beckham’ after one of my favourite footballers. (My identical twin Devika has also purchased an identical Btwin for herself and has named it ‘Rebecca’.) I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that I feel like I am “cruising” along on the Btwin, rather than riding it!
While for now, I just like to cycle without keeping track of either the distance that I cover or the speed with which I ride, I hope that one day, I can take part in long-distance cycling events which are better known to cyclists as brevets or randonnees. Like the other South cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad, Chennai has a vibrant cycling culture and regularly organizes cyclothons and brevets for amateur and professional cyclists. (The details of the events planned for 2016 are available at http://www.audaxindia.org/madras-randonneurs-chennai-c-26). I also plan to explore the many touristy places in and around Chennai that are easily accessible to cyclists by road.
Here’s to cycling my way to health!