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15 LIFE LESSON FROM CYCLING UPHILL

Okay, 

This was not a really good idea in retrospect. I could have died and probably should have. One weekend, I took off to Theni and decide to cycle through the Western Ghats until I reached Kerala. 

( Specifically Munnar in Kerala) 

These are the lessons I learned on that  journey which could have gone so wrong, but inshallah didn’t. 

Lesson 1

Being naive isn’t always a bad thing 

I have never come across that word being used in a positive way. And with my limited level of self awareness, I can nonchalantly say that I am relatively, a naive idiot. Which is a good thing as ideas and plans aren’t aborted just post conception. Don’t let pragmatism become your morning after pill.

For example, this idea came from a previous trip I had to make to the Ghats. But that was under acutely precarious circumstances as Kerala was flooded and I was on the truck carrying relief supplies from Decathlon Chennai to a place called Nedumkandam in Idukki district. I travelled through the Tamil heartlands of Trichy, past the Cauvery basin to the base of the Nilgiri’s. All in what I would have described as a “pandi lorry” before I came to Chennai. Now I call it a truck. 

So Theni became this launchpad to an expedition into the hills due to its proximity to it. And that was pretty much it. I spend a few hours memorising places in Google maps and my planning sort of ended there. After losing the phone in St Petes, I will be heading into the mountains without a GPS.

I called the bus operator ( Would recommend SRS travels if you plan to take cycles) and talked them over the situation and I was on my way. I just checked the elevation. Just a 2 km climb. Numerals can look so deceiving. Trust me. I now know what 10 m uphill feels like. So that was it, in terms of planning. So naive, right? 

I would have to say yes. 

But that is kind of the reason I said yes to this crazy idea. If I was pragmatic and rational about this, I wouldn’t have left my room. 

BUT DON’T BE NAIVE WHILE PACKING

Lesson 2 

Respect chance

3 km off Munthal, a dude in a Royal Enfield bullet 500 coming down the straight road at high speed hits a cow crossing the road. The bovine is thrown away into the side of the road with no visible injuries. The human skids down the road with his helmet flying off, he twists his ankle and his ride comes to a halt before him. He has visible injuries unlike the cow. His visage is covered in blood and his cries of intense pain can’t register to an exact location as to where the pain is coming from. Cause his entire body at that point seems to be in purgatory. He is still In shock and his homies try to talk to him. Wait I know where they are from- Kochi. “ Machane? Ok alle da ?” sorta ticks all the boxes. The bovine makes faint sounds as it is also in pain. I give some water to the Kochi machan as they get in an auto. The hospital 200 meters away. The ambulance comes late. He is already enroute. I now shift my focus towards the cow. Its movement has ceased. The eyes stare blankly at the atmosphere. Tongue out and lifeless, its body becomes ether less matter. It’s dead. I can see where the bike has hit it. Probably internal bleeding. But the chances of that cow crossing the same time as the bike comes in and the chances of the cow dying rather than the machan. That is why chance is the lord above all lords. And chance needs to be respected.

Almost around the same time I get a call from Amma. A family friend of ours had passed away in a motor cycling accident. What are the chances? 

I get a little shaken as I had just begun my journey and all these bad vibes surround me. But I have to go, I have to go. BUT, with more respect than I had before about chance. 

Inshallah 

Lesson 3

Trust your ride, but more importantly, your instincts 

My usual ride is “ The Millennium Falcon”. A BTwin Triban 100 road-bike. With 7 speed Shimano A050 shifter and 28 inch wheels with hybrid tyres and an aluminium frame which makes this beast weigh only 11.76 Kgs. 

In a city environment, if you are using it for a commute or just touring. Nothing can beat the falcon in the same price range. The acceleration coupled with the aero-dynamic posture of the rider due to the drop down handle puts this bird on the top of the line when it comes to commuting. I used to commute to work in this babe and it has always made sure I whizzed past Annai Salai traffic and also give competition to most bikes until they shift to 4th gear. 

But the mountains is a totally different ball game. The 7 gears are not enough. The gradient will make your legs feel like its trying to kick away the ice-berg which is going to hit the Titanic. Moreover, the road bikes lack of front suspension will make it a rough ride for anyone. You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to lose your testicles riding cycle if you take a road bike up a mountain. 

So I choose the GT Karakoram. And not just any Karakoram. The one that did the Kanyakumari to Kashmir that Amar did. This was the real deal. This baby has seen more road than I would see in 5 years. And with 3 gears near the pedal and 9 gears on the back, plus suspensions upfront which would rival a motocross bike, the “ Sabertooth” was a real mean piece of machine which was going to get me up the mountain. The fact that the 29 inch wheels and much wider tyres meant that I would get optimum grip on tight spaces and loose gravel.

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – GT KARAKORAM

It was now the proud possession of my mate Diesel ( Vinesh). He works for Btwin in the Teynampet Decathlon store. The sweetest human being you will find in this state and a really good mate, his only regret was that he couldn’t join me for the trip. He gave me some good advice as he had done Valparai a few months back.  And I fit the GT with lights for safety and the spare tube and emergency pump plus the tool kit which I always carry with me and I was set. 

But while cycling there is something called cadence. That is the rhythm or pace at which you cycle and the gears that you are using at that particular time. I asked Diesel what would be the ideal and he said – “ Trust your guts”. And surprisingly that is what even the most in- dept youtube channels on cycling said. And so I did. On many things like which gears I should be on, what speed I should descend and when to push the cycle when your legs are almost near breaking point. It’s important that you do, cause if I pull a muscle on highway 85, I could be a long way to the next town.

Lesson 4 

Every inch is a struggle, but always keep moving forward. 

From Munthal to Bodi- Methu is a 20 kilometre ascend which took me from 400 meters above sea level to 1417 meters above sea level. So it was a 1 km climb over the course of 20 odd kilometres. This was the initial leg of the journey and I have to say, the most taxing. In the beginning it was fine. I had the energy reserves to push me through. I was on the smallest gear on the front set and the largest on on the back set. This meant an entire rotation of the front pedals would correspond to less than an entire rotation on the back wheel . This way the stress will be very less and I would be able to climb. ( in principle) 

TIME TO GET HIGH.

But the sun and the incessant climb was taking its toll on me. The roads were a resembling a convoluted serpent who has left its prey to slowly assimilate into its body and is laying still in a perpetual state of hibernation with a few TN and KL registered vehicles rolling down it. And this guy on a cycle with a bag on his back with a tube coming out of it and a helmet on top with more brand placements than the kit of a 3rd division Italian football team drew lot more eyes than I could count, ( one kid even asked me – “ Payythyama? ( crazy?) “ To which my answer was – Aama. (Yes) 

Then after a few hairpin bends, the struggle gets real, every rotation takes a toll. My hamstrings and quadriceps were straining and the calfs were crying for a break. Every strand of muscle were doing their best. The myoglobin in full form and my breathing was off the charts. Don’t even get me started about the heart rate, I could hear the beats from the heart reverberating off my ear drum. It was insane. For the first time in a long while. I felt like my body and my mind were struggling. A struggle which is real. A struggle from which getting across the line is the only way out. That is why I wanted to do this. To feel the struggle in every inch and get that inner strength to push through it. I needed that. I so badly needed that. And when it reached the red zone. Where any more would risk a muscle cramp. I would get off and push the cycle. Or take a water break. It was getting tense. But that is something which I think we should put ourselves through more. The real struggle where pain becomes your friend. People who work out do this every day, but I have never found the Gym the most conductive of environments for me. But cycling has been that form of setting limits and breaking them. And when you are fighting for that inch, when every single particle in you wants you to stop, but that conscious part of you mind says – “ You ain’t getting off till the next turn motherfucker” that builds strength, I need that strength. 

IT LOOKS IMPOSSIBLE, TILL YOU DO IT.

Lesson 5 

Don’t forget to appreciate the little things 

During the ascend to Bodi, my water rations were running low. I had a bottle with me plus a water pouch from which I was sucking in enough water to keep my mouth hydrated. Then came a point where I thought I would have to stop a car or a bus and ask for some water. The sun was hitting me hard and the climb makes sure that fluids leave your body as fast as it comes in. This was until I heard the most beautiful sound I have heard in the whole trip. The sound of trickling water flowing down the cracks of the metamorphic boulders. You can call it a small waterfall. I called it salvation. I just hugged that rock and let the cold water run through every pore in my body. It was like pouring water to a red hot iron. It’s almost as if your skull is solidified when the spring water flows down you. The boost it gives to your moral is insane. Showering under a waterfall, checked off my bucket list. ( Make love to a playmate from the 90’s is next :p) After filling up my water rations I went on. But on the way things like these gives you that lift you so much crave for. A dragon fly with fur on its back with giant wings flying with you. A couple of hummingbirds which moves faster than a formula one car. The bikers who wave at you as you graft up the road. The “Chukkukapi” that you get at the Koil on the way and when the sun is covered for a few minutes by a cloud and you can feel the cool for the first time. All those small insignificant things are what add value to all this. That is what it is all about. 

SALVATION

Lesson 6

Your body can do much more than you think it can, nurture it

Let’s be honest here. I am nowhere near what would be described as fit. ( by Hollywood standards :p). I am 2 kg underweight from my BMI optimum( I used to be 10 Kgs under before) and I used to smoke like an ice burst per day. Which doesn’t help. Its been like a year since I hit the gym, mainly  because my Asan( instructor) and homie, Daddy( Rahul) isn’t there to scream me into lifting weights. But when you put your body in a scenario where it has to function close to the threshold of its limit. Where there isn’t a way to “escape”. Where you cant skip a day, since it’s raining in the morning. You would be surprised just how much your body is capable of. Trust me. My thighs became a quarter horse power, 2 piston, 2 stroke engine with a nitros boost every time I eat peanut butter. Its was surreal. I was pushing myself way past what I thought was possible and I was fighting through the pain with a sadistic sense of enjoyment. It was insane. 

I gained so much more respect for the body after this and I started feeling guilty about how badly I was looking after it. The ice-bursts at T gate every now and then and all the shitty food from Swiggy which adds fat in all the wrong places. I think it’s time I took this more seriously. Cause journeys in the future will be more arduous and the next challenge will be more epic than this, And I need my vehicle to be up to the task. 

So help me with this, if you see me smoking anything. And I mean anything(Tobe :p). Call me out and I will buy you something for 3x the price of  whatever I am smoking. ( A smart man would switch to beedis but that just puts a bad taste in your mouth for days, and yah it is  also counter intuitive)

Lesson 8 

Water, Vellam, Thanni, Neeru, Niti, Pani  

 I can’t reiterate just how much important it is. I kind of didn’t heed enough credence for that. But trying to cycle up, every 20 meters your water becomes a necessity without which you can’t move anymore. Your piss smells much more like piss than it should. Your kidneys are open for business like its the day before Uthradam ( Onam ). And all the bad vibes are being pissed away. You can get back the water you just drank by twisting all the sweat out of your cloths. It is in a way, the time all that bad blood comes out of your body.  The spring water flowing has this sweet coldness which gives new life to you. And when it rains, oh maaaan. The rain dripping, you going downhill, the road flooded with slush and ravines flowing through. No mud-guards and the tangential flow of grime makes your face and back feel like you been crawling through a mud pit at Westpoint trying to justify life decisions. I had a water pouch with me. It is a leakproof bag with a tube coming out at the end. ( Again, a Decathlon product) I can’t reiterate just how easier things got because of that. When you are climbing and every vector quantity of momentum is vital, reaching down to grab your bottle is not really a good idea. But sucking out of a tube actually is.  I am planning on smuggling liquor from Pondicherry using the same means sometimes in the not too distant future. 

Lesson 9 

Always be open to a helping hand

After Bodi it was the first time I went down a slope. Macha, that feeling of going down a slope it something else. I would put it right in there between United winning by scoring in extra time, a blowjob from an older chick and listening to “ take one me” by a-ha while high. The sensory overload is epic. The chilled air and the velocity makes the sweat take away your latent heat and your nerves tinkle at the chill. Skin hardens, blood corpuscles dilate and the hair on the back of your neck becomes erect. Its box office value. And I went down for a bit and then up and I was kind of happy that I was in Kerala. I had crossed a state on a cycle. ( Check). Then the roads were more gradual highs and lows rather than the hairpins which had drained me on the Tamil Nadu side of the Ghats. It was proper cold and it started to rain. I put the rain coat and the bag cover and I was moving towards the next stop Poopara. At that point of time I didn’t know what Poopara was. I go past Poopara and I enter a particularly desolate area where there are really nothing much but forests. The frequency of a car or a bike drastically decrease. Now, I slowly start to get this feeling that I am alone. And when you get that feeling, you also get this feeling like you are being watched. 

HOME.

The canopy starts covering the top and the sunlight is not touching the ground as it used to. I see large moulds of timber obliterated on the sides of the road, almost like it had been done deliberately, by something or someone. I hear a tick, a loud one at that. Again, and again. In regular intervals. I am moving into an area where there were electrified fences. The adrenaline rush which puts that bitter taste at the tip of your tongue puts me on edge. I see a sign. Kerala forest and wildlife.  It reads 

  • “ Elephant crossing area, approach with caution, electrified fences,” 

This cant be right, I never realised that there was a crossing there. I was scared, but I realised that there is not much I can do rather than to keep moving forward. And so I did. I see more timber thrown and misused with. If an elephant was there, I am pretty sure that it could smell me, cause a fucking human can smell my reek from a mile away as that is how bad I smelled then. I read about this. Herds are mostly peaceful. As long as you don’t fuck around. The isolated male who has been exiled from the herd is the one who might kill you. If you see a herd, gently turn off your engine and wait.  

But all the advice in the world cant prepare you for the real thing. Later on I heard the story of a particular male called “ Arival komban” which literally translated to a tusker with a sickle shaped tusk. He is rumoured to have killed 56 people and is out for blood. Apparently, once he was raunching through a cardamom field when the labourers dropped a burning tyre on his hide. He has killed all the 5 male members from that family and didn’t hurt the females even though they were both carrying stuff together. Sins of our fathers I guess. I know it sounds like hoodoo rumours, but the fact that elephants run around that place was pretty much fact.

My legs had reached the red zone again and I was walking while pushing the cycle. I can hear an engine, definitely a two wheeler coming towards me. I stop and look back, then there was this dude in a Dio and he was like – “ Chetta, get on this fast, this area is not safe for cycling.” A moment of hesitation, but we both knew he was right. I get on it and tow the cycle to safety. A few kilometres away. His name was Surya Jackie ( Cant find him on Facebook though). He said that he saw me from Poopara and he thought I was cycling with some white people cause they are the ones who are usually crazy enough to do this according to him. He was surprised no cops stopped me and let me pass through the elephant areas. He offered me a bheedi which I had to refuse cause I needed every bronchiolar unit to be 100% to carry me over. He was a nice kid. He even worked in Chennai for a while near Ambattur. He spoke the Tamil-version of Malayalam which is really cute. He was a good mate. He took me over the Anyirangal dam. I was confused as  I thought I would be passing over the Chinnakanal dam. I didn’t realise at that point, but I had actually taken a wrong turn and had gone over the elephant infested areas and added a further 8.6 km uphill ride over the course of the trip. If I had know it then, I would have been so fucked that I might have done something else. Inshallah I didn’t realise then and hence continued on. If Surya hadn’t turned up to be my guardian angel, you never know if you would be reading this. 

MATTUPETTY JACKIE MACHAN AKA GUARDIAN ANGEL

Lesson 10

Music always helps, no matter what you are doing

When you are cycling alone on a path with steep climbs and the sun looking down on you like how a plantation owner in Charlottesville looks down upon a brother. A bit of beats always helps to keep your rhythm and also cheer you up with sometimes. Since I lost my phone, I been using a Jio Phone and I have to say that the Jio music app has some dope shit in it. So when I felt a bit lonely, I put on my friend Jeevan’s JBL Flip 4 speakers and it pumps out some sick noises. It is water proof too so I let it slide in the mud :p, ( Don’t tell Jeevan). But you might get a few stares on the way, but that is fine, when Kanye and Lil Pump as saying – ‘ You’re such a fucking hoe, I love it”,  the misogyny kinda turns heads,

from side to side and then your shoulders join in and you are in the vibe. 

 

Just cause you are here I will add my Russian playlist to it. See what you like. 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTOtYO6blO7phexODUBlit63uTlJiW3MN

BLACK BACARDI IS LIT

 

 

Lesson 11 

 Kochi bois are the best / Know when to stop

Surya Jackie ( No, that is actually his real name.) took me to the top of a hill from which a steep descent later, I was back to the same situation. An incessant climb which looked more and more daunting as the day went by. But now, the time was becoming a factor which was becoming more and more concerning. It was like around 3 and the sun was starting to hide away between the clouds and this meant two things. It was about to get dark soon and that “koda” or fog was gonna set in. Up in the high-ranges. When fog sets in, it could mean you can’t even see what is just 5 feet in front of you. This could potentially leave me stranded as cycling on small, mushy roads with a 200 feet vertical drop which is enough to swallow you whole  if you take a wrong turn is not the ideal of situations to make a last chance sprint, hoping to reach Munnar before sunset. I settle down near an empty stretch of road. With tea estates covering the horizon, till I cant see anything more than hills and a road running through it, through which I had just peddled past. I start calling my mates hoping to find some inspiration. Jio gets great signal throughout the route though, kudos to them for that. I called Diesel, I called my mate Das who really wanted to come for the trip, but I didn’t tell him in time. ( Next time Kandipa mah man) and Gayathri, my mate in Kochi. Mentally, all the calls didn’t seem to help much as I was just trying to find a way make myself think I can do it. But each look at the watch and I realise its looking more and more unlikely that I will reach there on time. 

WHEN CHAI MET BREAD OMLET

I decide to move, and my next stop was a waterfall with a small tea shop on the side. I so needed this. A hot chai and masala Maggi later. I keep my feet down and contemplate what is going to happen. Around this time, the infamous Koda set in. Koda is basically a cloud which covers the mountain and makes visibility almost near zero. If you are an inexperienced driver. Park you vehicle and wait it out. But this Koda was unlike any that even the most veteran drivers have seen before. All the bus drivers, who ply this route almost daily stopped. And soon there was a crowd where the stop was. I was breathing in the Koda. Honesty, it felt like vaping cause that is what it really is. Vapour, but without the nicotine and the artificial flavouring. Soon, I became the curious attraction of the small crowd which had gathered there. A dude on a cycle, wearing cycling shorts and a helmet plus two gloves and a cycle which looked like it was used during Jellikattu ( Muddy bovine sport). I was drawing a lot of eyes and a few trippers came and said Hi. Everyone advised against moving on. Since Munnar was just a few hours away from Kochi, I saw a lot of homies from Kochi there. This was when thoughts of setting up camp came into my mind. I thought, I would ask the Annan in the tea shop if I can sleep inside my sleeping bag near the place where the make shift store was. At that point of time it was a great idea, it had running water from the waterfall, it was far away from the road and also the turpentine would protect me from the rain. What more could I ask for ? I remained positive and didn’t let me head down. I was in a state of abundance and if you believe in the law of attraction, then you attract the energy that you radiate and I attracted the sort of energy which would turn this trip on a whole new level. The energy of a Kochi Karan.

CAN’T SEE SHIT SON

Lesson 12

“Happiness only real when shared” – Christopher McCandles ( Into the wild ) 

 

 This dude in a blue cap comes to me and asks – “ Where have you been cycling from ?”. 

That set in motion a whole host of events which made me reaffirm even more the old saying – “ Me casa es tu casa” ( Spanish for “ my house is your house” ). 

I have been so so fortunate to stay with the most amazing of people. From Andrey in Russia to Protemesh in Kolkata ( Shit, I haven’t posted that story yet have I ?) to my  Bangalore homies and Sonal is Delhi and the time I stayed in that yoga ashram with Jeevan. Every time I had such an insane time and tried to make sure they were also happy with me being there. This time it was so random and unexpected that even I thought for a moment…… Is he for real ?

I tell the dude in the cap about all my stories and he is like this dude is crazy. Then the deal maker came. He asked me where i was from. And with all the pride and swag that epitomise that harbour town on the rims of the Periyar river to the centre of Kerala. I say – “ Kochiii” ( How I miss that place.)

And he asked where specifically – “ Palarivattom” aka  the hood. And little did u know, we are actually homies in a broad geographic sense. He lives in Kakkanad. Sweets. I told you there were homies everywhere, but I found a homie who lives upto the word, both literally and figuratively. ( Actually he found me.) He was a contractor and he was working on a project on the new NH 85 which was under construction. So he had with him a group of bhais ( Informal term for Hindi speaking immigrant workers). Plus one more dude who spoke with the same Palarivattom vibe that all of were speaking right now. ( How I missed that too, thats the one thing which I think about during every linguistics class.)  He was the first dude’s cousin. At first their names I couldn’t remember. Cause exotic Arabic names have a short shelf life in my short term memory. But soon we ended up calling the dude in the cap “ Ikaka” ( Big brother ) and his cousin “ Anu”. ( real names being Samjid and Ahnaz, See I can recall :p) This meant that quarter of 1848 Brandy would have to wait for its baptism.

Then the moment which changed it all. “ If you want, you can crash with us? “. I totally didn’t expect that and for a moment it didn’t seem real. I thought about it and with an instant rush of dopamine I said – “ If its not too much trouble for you guys, then yah “.  Ikaka still held onto the frame and said it was since I would have to be a squatter for the night and it is not safe, at all. 

And then we wait out for the Koda to leave and we are on our way back to his crib. I get to learn he is much older than I anticipated. He has two small kids and he has a lot of construction contracts across the state. This dude is a baller. Ikaka and I go to the house and it was like the villa in Ceasar’s palace for me. From expecting to sleep on the roadside to finding a hot bath and a bed in a place with a roof. Mashallah.

PARA, PARA, PARADISE

A while later Anu come and we are talking and laughing over the table, genuine conversations about the little things in life, no grand narrative, no deconstruction of the discourse, no weight of the past, no anticipation of the future. Just living in the present. Those moments, all that kilometres of cycling uphill for particularly nothing, just to feed that fire in the belly of the beast, that just got justified. It was worth it. That feeling of fulfilment just rushes through. Eyes get a little moist and I tell myself, happiness is compounded when shared. Share more Yadu, like these awesome people are sharing with you.

Then Anu and I go to get some food, this is where we really vibe. The dude is just a year older to me. The fucker looks way older. His story is similar to a cousin of mine. He loves driving and he wants to drive trucks around the country. That was exactly my dream. 

When I was 7, but the reality of life makes us lose sight on those formative year ideals where passion was unbridled and the consequences of dreaming what we want didn’t have externalities forcing us to think into a cone. I felt so happy, that is what he loved the most here, driving around that pickup. He didn’t finish college and he is right now with Ikaka, learning the tricks of the trade. There is a kid inside him, but I see a lot of light, a lot of life. An effigy of innocence and playfulness in the form of a machan who is always, as we say in Chennai – “jally.” We had a smoke, hopefully my last and he told that Ikaka is a ( quoting his exact words) – “ Behut Acha Admi” and doesn’t smoke, drink or boom. He showed me a packet of Munnar green, and told about his time. When he would be booming with his mates and all of a sudden drive upto Munnar on a bike, for em feelz. 

We drive back and I lock up the Karakoram and we have food. We put some music on the JBL as we have Porotta with kadala curry. It was the most homely feeling I felt in ages. We talk about everything, life, death and how construction contracts are floated :p. Apparently there is a bypass coming over Alleppy and Kollam. Which would cut down the travel time to Trivandrum by 2 hours. 

And we called it a night, a great night. 

Lesson 13

Good times shouldn’t last.

I wake up, albeit not in the bed I went to sleep in. I wake up in the room between where Anu and Ikaka were sleeping. The snoring sort of made me displace myself to the hall so both sounds canceled each other out :p. It felt so great, the sleep. My legs were thanking their stars that this idiot gave them a rest. The energy was back and that hunger to cycle the last 20 Kms ignited the beast again. A warm bath later and I was ready. It was time to say good bye to them. I hug Ikaka and tell him anytime he swings around Chennai we will hang and also that I will hit him up when I am in the hood. I give them my peanut butter cause that and a warm hug is all that I have as a gift of gratitude. I depart the house and Anu drops me off near the waterfall where we met yesterday. I wish Anu machan the very best and start the cycling for the day. From struggling to do 10 meters yesterday to now having that reserve of energy to think I can do that 20 km in two hours. It is so different now. If it hadn’t been for that night of rest, I would probably have been fucked up when I eventually reach Munnar.  

KOCHI BOIS FOR LIFE.
IKAKA (RIGHT), ANU (LEFT)

Anu told me the next 2 kms would be slight climbs, but after that, it is all downhill. I was so relived at that. I reach what is called a “ gap road”. Places where there are construction going on and only one vehicle can pass through at a time. All it had was a pile up of asphalt and beyond that is a drop which I didn’t to lean over to estimate the drop. The route went past quarries and meandering roads ploughed through the hill tops. Until and trust me when I say this. I saw the most beautiful curves of my life. Fuck Amanda Cerny, Fuck Sunny Chechi, Fuck Shakeela. These curves are what turns every man on. ( Maybe Pavard’s goal comes close.)

SEXY Y=X^2

It was all down hill man, I couldn’t believe it. Now comes the most fun part of the journey. 

When a cycle accelerates down hill, I can go faster than a motorcycle cause I have more control over the beaten up roads. I was whizzing past everyone and the cold alpine ( close to it) air caressing your face like the bosoms of a bodacious maiden of the forest. And the adrenaline which I released at every turn when you try to control the momentum of this run away train that is myself. I cant put too much pressure on the breaks as I might skid and since the road wasn’t tarred, traction came at a premium. I whizzed past lorry drivers and cars and everyone was curious as to how much this joyride will take me. There came a curve and I trust me instincts and didn’t put too much pressure on the brakes, but instead turned it around using my weight. “ It corners like its on rails” quoting Pretty Woman(1990). I was covering so much ground so fast and I can see the town coming up. 

This descent beats all the rides in an amusement park, this was the real shit, no safety net, no insurance claims. Just the joy of letting go and gravity and kinetic energy taking you through a refresher course on Newtonian physics. I absolutely loved this. 

When I look back, in terms of duration. 90 % of time I was cycling uphill and its just a mere 10 % of the time that I am cycling downhill. But that quantum of 10 %, those are the good times and if it hadn’t been for the 90 % of uphill struggle, there is no way that I would appreciate this. I think that is true for most things. It’s the graft which makes that one moment of joy feel special. 

( Sociologically, my working class background might have ingrained that paradigm in me, but I still enjoyed that moment, that moment of pure, unbridled joy) 

Like I said before, you have to experience that at least once in your life.

Lesson 14

Have a mate who keeps you accountable 

And that downhill euphoria gets a boost as I see it. In all her glory, Munnar town. I screamed- “ faaaaaaack yaaah”.  Fist punching the air until every bike rider who went past me started doing the same back at me. Now the goal was in sight, the objective within a grasps distance. But it could have all been so different. Remember at the waterfall, when the fog set in. There was this idea running through me. I thought the last 20km I would put the cycle on top a vehicle and just ride it out. I was close to that, but I called my mate Gayathri. And she said, that would be cheating. She said, is that the story I want to tell my kids. That I didn’t complete it. ( After this trip, kids are looking more unlikely :p). Which was kind of true. So I quickly changed me mind and decided to keep my eye on the ball. Thank you G3, milkshakes on me for that.

REACHED THE PROMISED LAND

Lesson 15

Don’t tell your parents that you are doing something epic, until you do it.

I cycle across a bridge and I am there. “ Munnar municipality welcomes you”. I have reached the promised land. I quickly go to the bus station, check when the next bus is and I go eat some appam and egg curry. Before you know it I am on a bus down the Ghats to the place where the magic happens. – Kochi. 4 hours later, I reach Vytilla, say good bye to the bus Chettans and I am on my way home. I saw my mates Sreehari and Adrash on the road. What the fuck, talk about coincidences. They gave me the piss over how I looked as all mates do and I was on my way home. I park the Karakoram upfront and then I walk in to see Amma. She looked real confused at my appearance. I tell her yah, I kind of cycled here. Then an hour of awkward silences and a passive aggressive lunch later, they ask – “ What is wrong with you?”. 

Quite a lot of things to be honest, but they sorta know that. I said I gave updates to my mates on where I was and what I was doing. Which is true since Jeevan, G3, Das and Diesel more or less knew where I was. Then I let off Nani and playing with that son of a bitch lightened the mood. I was tired as fuck and I turned on the AC and laid myself to rest. Mashallah not for the last time. 

And this epic trip came to an end with these lessons which I learned on the way.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely mother fuckingly yes.

WHERE TO NEXT?

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” I love this idea of maintaining independence and individuality in the midst of the crowd.

                                                                                                – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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