I went through an amazing experience this Sunday. It was a ride to Darewadi on Satara Road with a group of Germans who completed their journey of 10,000 kms on Bicycles. They started their journey from Germany in April 2012 and completed their final leg of 10,000 kms in Pune last week. They have travelled all the way from Europe via Iran and Pakistan to India. Darewadi is 30 kms away from Pune. The to and fro distance to be covered on bicycle was 60 kms.
We began our cycle ride at 7.00 am on Sunday, 14th October 2012. We were 20 of us including the cyclists from Germany. The journey began from Rajaram Bridge on Sinhagad Road.
It was early morning. Two of my fellow cyclists chatted with me for a while and left me behind. I was a little disappointed and thought they could have waited for me, could have gone a bit slow. I felt as if I should leave this journey at once. But then I looked behind and said, ah, there are people behind me. Great Deal! Let me push the pedal hard.
We reached the bridge connecting a valley after taking a turn from Sinhagad Road. The journey started becoming interesting. A bus full of children waved at us which was so motivating, I was glad I did not mind others going ahead of me at the start. I realized I was so foolish, it was not about going first; it was about finishing the journey.
Thanks to the mountains, Sun rays were not reaching us yet. And guess what, Maoushmi, the only girl of the elite group of four German Cyclists, meets up with me on her Bicycle who was on her way to complete final few Kilometers to make it a 10,000 kms mark. I chat with her for a while and push the pedal harder. She tells me a few experiences of her journey in Alps and Iran. It further boosts my morale.
Now we are in the great tunnel connecting us to Shinde Wadi on Satara Road. I have travelled through this tunnel umpteen number of times in the Car, closed windows and AC on. Never felt the real thrill of the Tunnel all this time. I entered the tunnel and felt as though there is so much darkness ahead. Life brings you surprises all the time to make it interesting and entertaining. The cars were rapidly moving past me and all cyclists were pushed to the wall to form a queue automatically. We followed each other without any competition or complex. It was not cyclist against cyclist any more but it was cyclist against automobiles.
The tunnel was unending. It was full of carbon emission and felt I might die due to suffocation. I was remembering if I did anything right to be remembered by others if it was my last breath. And here ended the tunnel. All of us relieved with fresh air and bright sunlight. So the good hours were back. We headed to Satara Road with rejuvenated enthusiasm and double the speed. All of us reach our next halt to receive water bottles which was like nectar to us and Peanut bars. Then I have a greater surprise. I am told now we are leaving the smooth highway which we travelled all along and taking a turn inside which is a village road. I try to find the road. There are more pits than the road. I take a deep breath and say “Oh my, charge up lady, you have a tough task ahead”. We begin our journey on a single lane so called village road. The people are coming from the opposite side and I hear a German saying Kshama Kara in Marathi, a synonym to Sorry. He says, to me, he finds the traffic of India amazing. Slightly embarrassed I say yes it is crazy. He then says, I go mad in Germany when people do not decide whether they want to go or not. Instead here in India, everyone wants to go and wants to go very fast. I laugh but in the heart of heart salute him for his positive attitude.
Then we reach the steep Ghats. This is deadly. Most of us are not able to cycle now. We hold our bicycles and keep pushing. We reach the peak and then with a slight slope and one turn we enter Village Darewadi. Villagers welcome us with drums and all the pomp up but more warmth. After spending two hours with them we descend our journey back home. Total 30 kms. On bicycle. 30 more for the return journey.
I am amazed at the descend of the same Ghats which I hated so much while climbing. I am almost flying now. I am at the top of the world. But I do apply brakes and try to remember the hardships I had to keep my feet grounded.
Same journey back home. However, feel so relaxed and triumphant. I feel proud of completing this cycle rally. It does not matter to me now, whether I am first or last. For that matter I am actually pedaling very slowly because, I do not want to give up now. I have the backup van right behind. It is tempting me to decide against pedaling. But I gather all my courage and pedal though the peaks, tunnels and amazing slopes. Afternoon sun is burning us now. But it is a journey back home hence nothing matters. And here I complete my final mile with accomplished feeling, light heart, heavy legs and numb arms.
Life is also a long cycle rally. It is more important to finish it than secure first place. There will be scary tunnels, bumpy rides and difficult ghats. But there will be easy slopes too. There will be people who will go ahead of you, but there will be more who will be close behind. It is more important to look at it positively and thank the almighty for whatever he offered. Sunshine or Darkness. Sunshine for a reason to smile and Darkness to wipe your tears without letting others know.
Contributed by Dr. Ashwini Sowani (Faculty & Placement Coordinator IBS Pune)