RELATIONS 

​RELATIONS….

If there is something more complex than algebra …it certainly is relation or relationship …where 2+2 is never 4….where there is no rational to how it is …

I mean …look at it …we have been bombarded with importance of “khoon ka rishta” by society ,by TV,by films …but look around you …a brother stabs his brother for money ,brother kills sister for family honour,family abandoning elderly mother coz they think of her as burden…..

Ever wondered why does it happen ?….I mean when they were  kids, they must have shared one bowl of Maggie,waited for each other for food ,must have shed tears when the other one was hurt …how do they forget all those wonderful things ? …those moments spent with each other ,loving each other ….how?….how does something materialistic like money , concrete buildings, plot of dirt mean so much??

Is this what they call end of the world??

When these instances scare me ,shake my beliefs to core ….there are things which are nothing short of magic….

A homeless lady becomes mother to thousands,soldier gives away his life for people he has never seen. A doctor works endlessly for the poor and deprived … A human being works to teach and instill confidence in many unprivileged souls..

What is it that makes or breaks the relation? ….what is it that decides the fate of a relation ?….sometimes it might be difficult to talk to ur brother / sister/ parents ….stretching a conversation beyond few minutes seems like a mammoth task …and sometimes there is this sister like ur Guardian angel…..understanding u like no-one else,treating u like a princess,having faith in u ,giving u courage …or there might be this once a stranger ,now a friend,so important that u absolutely have to share everything with him,ur happiness ,ur sorrow,ur victory,ur defeat without being scared of being judged or banished….

Is it communication that brings us close or lack of it that makes two people strangers…….

Or it is the effort that both put or don’t put for that relation to work?….

Or the next person evaluates ur worth in his or her life ?….

What is it ??

What is a solution to this ?

Talking ? listening ? Educating ? Teaching the values of relationship at a tender age in schools ? 

The question is left unanswered by the greats , and many souls like me search for that light at the end of the tunnel . Is it the tunnel or have I turned blind myself ? 

We are ready for paying thousands to people to listen to us , yet we are not ready to spend a moment with our loved ones , listening and speaking heart to heart . 

A heart here is ready to talk and listen. But the question is ARE YOU ?

P.S.Author is a good shy friend of mine, so this article belongs to my friend with some modifications and addups from my end .

4 MONTHS & 3 DAYS . I M CONQUERED 

​”Well wishers are like beautiful street lamps.

They cannot make our distance shorter ,

But they can lighten our paths and make the journey easier.”

– unknown randonneur

I’m unsure of as in who wrote these words , but they resonate so much with a mindset of a randonneurs, I am sure the quote is written for a randonneur.

PROLOGUE:

12 sept 2016 , the fateful day when I had to quit at 270 km mark , in a 400 km brevt , still haunts me to this day. The inflammation of the fascia lata is like an Achilles tendon for a rider. I had experienced the same during that brevet . The inflammation kept me out of action for good long time . I could not sit on a saddle , that was the amount of fear it had generated .

Lucky for me , I had guidance of my physiotherapist cum coach Dr Neena Sahu and Dr Soheb .I decided to give cycling some rest , and start my running . A visit to Neena mam , and I was diagnosed , quadriceps and core muscle weakness . All I needed was a regular training to increase the strength of these muscles with hamstrings and I could get my rides back. Easier said than done , especially in my case . I am a lazy person , and love to procastinate each n every thing . So to tell u the truth I went 40 days of physio in the last 6 Months , but each and every session helped me immensely .

I was just coping up with my brevet loss, when I was diagnosed with dengue . Dengue is a dangerous disease and I had lost my near ones , a few days back , thus increasing my anxiety . But thanks to my loving parents , I recovered fast . The muscle weakness remained for a month , and I was away from exercise. Slowly and steadily I started to gain weight , opposite to what I had planned . November 27 was my Nagpur half marathon, and I started to train for it. OCR ( ORANGE CITY RUNNERS) was the perfect group to train with . Dr Neena and Dr Soheb made sure that I was increasing my muscle strength and the hill repeats at hazaripahad helped a lot . 

The fear had not vanished, each day was a different agony . Knee pain used to aggravate by any procedure , sometimes by squatting , sometimes by sleeping , sometimes by driving a car . It was becoming totally frustrating. I quit driving a car completely , gave up squatting and took care of each and every step I took.

Slowly , I started improving on my timings and I could run 10 k in 65-70 min. As I was training for the half marathon, my counterparts were achieving great targets in brevets . The new season has begun , and I wanted to do maximum rides in the winter . A stern look from my mom was enough to drown all my attempts down the drain . So I concentrated on my run , and could successfully complete 21.1 km marathon in 2hr25 min . It was like a dream come true . One more off the bucket list .

Enter December and the grand 600 brevet was on the menu . I knew I had not prepared for it , so I was planning to attempt only 300 km . However my gang , I.e. Jyoti, Sneha and Sudarshan , had a different plan altogether. They wanted to attempt the Raipur 600 as it was supposed (all were shouting post brevet about the elevation ) to be a flat route with minimum elevation. I had my doubts and I decided not to pursue it . 3 days before the brevet my knee pain increased and I decided to withdraw from the whole event altogether. I was part of support team . The rest of the gang started their 600 brevet and Jyoti became the first female of central India to complete the 600 target . Sudarshan also completed 600 with her . Sneha had to quit due to knee pain and a series of puncture and a wobbling tyre.

Our gang sans urmilla
1 MONTH TO THE PRESENT DATE :

  I was gaining weight and had already gained 50% of what I had lost in the whole year . It was causing me to panic . I realised a pattern , and soon deducted that, I needed a goal to achieve . And hence I decided on January 400 . I had my gang with me and I was sure that if ( that’s a big if ) I practice regularly , I’ll be able to do it . So began my training program , and as expected I ended up doing nothing . Sneha was chosen the ride responsible and she was doing her task perfectly. Regular follow-up from her , kept me reminding me of my brevet goal . Sudarshan was unsure of his participation , which left me with the 2 champions ( Sneha n Jyoti ). I could already feel sweat in my palms . Riding with these 2 , is never an easy task , they both are wonderful riders and I needed to achieve that level within a fortnight ! Phew !!!! Easy task ( not even in my dreams ) .

I started my rides , and training . I installed new schwalbe marathon tyres ( 25 c) . I like comfort on my ride , speed is secondary. And so began my comfort rides, Most of them were with the gang , sometimes I had to go solo . However , I had made it a point to do regular squats and lunges to improve my quadriceps strength. And guess what , the results were showing up . I lost 2-3 kgs in the 7-10 days of training and that set the tempo . The day was arriving and I was ready . 

THE JUDGEMENT DAY

I got GARUDA (my Fuji sportif 2.1)  ready for the brevet . A quick service at Khan bhai, and GARUDA was ready for the flight . I went to Aniruddha Ncyclopedia next and got the bag fitted on the handle bar , got a test ride and everything seemed good . As it was Sankranti I waited for the night to come , and then rode back home . Once home , I started filling my bag and as it was expected to be cold next day , I had lot of warm clothes to carry. I had just bought a winter jacket from Aniruddha, black and red , and it seemed perfect for morning ride. I got extra woolen cap , gloves , thermo wear upper n lower for the next night . All packed in seperate bag which I’ll get at 200 km mark . Then I started filling my bottles with water and getting the essentials for the ride.

It was 9 pm and I was pulling the cord from the power bank ,now fully charged, when my sister arrived . It was good to see her , but I had to cut short due to need for adequate sleep. I went to bed at 9:45 pm and the sleep took over in seconds .

I woke up next day at 3:45 am with a feel of calmness. The morning temperature had a rise in it , and I could feel comfortable in my shorts. It was a good omen for the brevet . Stomach is a problem on the day of such big events . Maximum time is spent to get it offloaded , and this day was no different . I got a warm shower , and got into my gear . Everything seemed perfect . I got a variety of halwa and a glass of protein shake , and another visit to the bathroom and I was ready for the day . I met Rishi bhai at Ravi Nagar , as decided earlier and went towards zero mile . Ofcourse I had started my strava ( there is no point in riding without strava measuring your distance, speed ). We reached well within time , and already a conglomeration of riders had assembled . Urmilla n Jitesh bhai helped me with the bike check and signing formalities . Gajanan bhau helped me apply an extra layer of crepe bandage to the handle bar , to help reduce wrist soreness and numbness .

Everything was in place , only Sudarshan was missing from the gang . He came to start point with a minute to spare and completed his formalities . The girls left early , and I waited till Sudarshan was done , and we both started our ride towarda kathiyawad , our first check point .

DISASTER STRIKES EARLY :

As soon as I took the right towards Amravati road, I could feel a drag in my cycle . It was slowing me down and I could hear some noise from front wheel . It was a nightmare , and I found out the brakes were clinging to the rim of front tyre . A quick nudge on the break and they seperated, and I could ride back smoothly . I thought it was one small event , and continued with my ride. But with each passing moment, the brakes seemed to touch the rim and reduce my speed. I was at a loss, I had checked the alignment of bag yesterday, and everything was working good. Why all of sudden was it creating problem today ? On the final day !!! Why ? I couldn’t decipher much and started riding towards kathiyawad, with nudge at the breaks every few minutes. It was frustrating , but ok . Nothing serious . My eyes were searching Mohammad or Gajanan bhau , so that I could ask them about the issue. The temperature were on cooler side , but the jacket was enough to protect . I was comfortable in my shorts and slowly and steadily , we started catching up with other riders . We met Shubham in a while and enquired why he was riding slow . Shubham is a wonderful rider , who can ride at a speed of 40+ over a longer distance , so seeing him at the back was a surprise . He smiled and said , he’ll speed later in the day . So we 3 began to ride together . Sudarshan has a different riding format , he will be riding at equal speed whether going downhill or uphill, on the contrary I like to make the most of my inertia during downhill . As the road was full of ups and downs, we were almost together . We caught up with the girls at 40 km mark near Rajkumar dhaba . Jyoti as usual was sprinting ahead and Sneha was accompanied by shakal . The further journey was with the gang , albiet knowing that jyoti will be sprinting ahead whenever possible 😉 .

Sudarshan , Sneha and urmilla
We reached kathiyawad and i could see Vikas bhai just leave for the next CP. Vikas bhai is another rider , I admire a lot . He has no great speed , but he makes up on that with his endurance . You ask him to ride 100,200,400,600,1000 and ull see him riding a constant AVG. Speed of 22 with few minutes of rest in between . No wonder he is always the first to complete the brevet . This time will be no different , I thought in my mind and got down from my bike . Kathiyawad dhaba is on right side , so we had to cross the road on foot. 6-7 riders were present there . I got my brevet card stamped by Rajiev Narayan sir and Sanjay ji helped me with water bottles . Swati was also present there , and I knew that we could have a mouthful of breakfast now 🙂 Swati is another person, who cares for you , and makes sure no rider is hungry before he gets back on saddle ( typically mummy types , and everyone loves her for that ) . We ate a heartful of paratha and dahi and were ready for the next segment . Gajanan bhau had a look at my cycle , and did some corrections with the bag , and assured me that the bag won’t create any further problem . True to his words , I was not troubled by my bag anymore .

Sudarshan was keeping info on the segments and that helped us determine how much our pace was . We were comfortable with time part . We zoomed through the Talegaon downhill , reaching 50+ . We reached 100 km mark and were treated to wonderful tilgul laddu by Yogesh Dapurkar sir and Swati mam . We took a lot of photos and started our journey back towards nagpur. We were well within time , and were doing good. 

The riders at talegaon CP
The next challenge was the Talegaon ghat . It’s an stretch 1-2 km with a steady elevation . I could hardly touch a speed of 8-10 , and I saw Sudarshan overtaking me with utmost ease . My quadriceps started to pain on the climb , but the pain was over as I reached the top . The gang was waiting at top , we stretched a little and soon found ourselves in company of Balraj bhai and Tarique bhai . Tarique bhai was having some trouble with his knee . There was no chance of him being left alone , we all pedalled merrily forward. A note Balraj bhai, he is fabulous rider , who can ride at any speed if required . He has the distinction of maximum distance in a month of 1800 km , daily 60 km … Each n every single day . After a while I felt little muscle cramps and we took a halt . Balraj bhai helped me stretch and all my pain vanished in a second . We soon reached kathiyawad and a sumptuous lunch awaited us . I chose to eat khichadi and dahi . Aniruddha kulkarni sir was happy to see us and he was encouraging us all to continue and tried everything to boost our morale . After the lunch we all went to lie down on the garden , a good 15 min rest . Nilesh lakhotiya ji was kind enough to wake us up and instill confidence into our system . Ranjit Jain sir helped us with water n electoral and we were off towards Nagpur … Just 44 km to go.

Here we were joined by Mihir Hardikar and he was riding at a good pace . He was having some trouble with his knee , but he continued to ride. After a while I started to slow down . I couldn’t understand why , but my guess was water . We all took a chai break . I drank loads of water and had some electoral and off we went . At around 15 km from Nagpur , Sneha pointed out saying that Tarique bhai is in front , he was slowing down .A point on bhai, he is a seasoned rider , who like me prefers comfort over speed . That’s why he chose a tourer bike, yet he easily achieves a speed of 30+ on it. Sheer determination. He was having knee pain , but he looked more exhausted than usual .He was determined to finish and said that he will continue. We waited for while , when he had his salt and water . We reached zero mile well within time , roughly 11 hours from start . Anand fiske was there , he had promised to bring the camera . And as soon as we saw him , we started posing for the clicks .

A huge feast awaited us. Sneha’s mom had brought parathas and Balraj bhai had arranged for food too.. we had satranji to seat on , and we merrily are the gala buffet . Time was not a concern . We had 16 hours to do 200 km . I thought in my mind , I could have some good nap in between if needed.

That’s for always sprinting ahead !!!!
We could hear jyoti , she was always the first to get ready and shouting , chalo chalo … Me n Sudarshan , as lazy as we could get , slowly n sluggishly got back on our saddle . Urmila was there , she had bought some electoral for us . She is the 5th member of our gang , but out of action due to ankle sprain . She had attempted the most difficult brevet of our times , in the heat of June , and I am her great admirer since then .We said good bye to all present and started towards koradi . There was a fear for Sunday Sadar traffic , and lot of discussion was done for the same . When we passed through Sadar, I could speed and ride as smoothly as if I’m on a highway. Only the square at koradi , in front of temple had some rush , except that , it was a silky route .

The koradi road is always special for me. I had done my first brevet ( it was a night brevet ) on this road . 200 km night brevet, and I knew the road like back of my hand . The aim was to reach savner by dusk , we managed to reach a little after . Prasad Pitale stood there as a lone warrior and was helping us all with the same enthusiasm he always has. I got hold of cold garments and made some clothe swipe. The road ahead would be dark , and cold and we would have few spots to fill our bottles and tummy . We had decided to stop at badchicholi and eat something . Just a few km before badchicholi , rishi, Gajanan and Kishor sir overtook us.

After few km , a rash car driver , with fully drunk companions overtook us , hurling some good swear at us. We found out that , he did the same with the riders in front and thus we all decided to ride together . So we were now a group of 12 riders , riding together in the night . A group , slows you down , but it has an advantage of comfort and talks . And the distances evaporate like a mist. We reached Balaji dhaba, pandhurna and decided to have food . Balraj bhai and Sanjay bhai decided to ride ahead and eat on return . We had a good roti , daal and took some good rest .

I was having some trouble with my stomach . Everything I was eating was getting offloaded . I was not having diarrhoea nor desentry . I hadn’t eaten anything rotten , still everytime something went down my mouth , it had to be offloaded soon .Plus the night was getting chiller . I put on my winter cap , gloves and thermo wear . We reached teegaon around midnight . Jitesh bhai and Rajesh Chansoriya sir were there. Both were really helpful and helped me multiple times .Rajesh sir asked about my health and suggested some bananas and made sure I ate few more before we left back. 300 km done . 8:30 hrs for 100 km . It seemed an easy task . Plus the route back was maximum downhill , so not much to worry about .

We next had a stop at Balaji dhaba again, we had some tea and fruits and took 15 min nap , before resuming our journey back . After a few km , I felt weakness or was it sleepiness , I did not understand. I asked Sneha to stop , as all others were riding quite ahead. She quickly pointed out that I was low on glucose as I was avoiding food. I sat down and ate 2 chikkis and electoral . This helped me a lot and I felt rejenuvated .We soon reached badchicholi and it was just 60 km to go . From here the group got seperated . Me , Bhushan Sneha were riding at the last . We all reached Heti dhaba around 3:30 am. The familiar sight of Aniruddha Raich car was a wonderful relief. We again filled our bottles , I ate few more bananas and started our final leg towards Nagpur . After a few km , I was having another bout of stomach upset , and had to stop . All the riders were already ahead , so it was just Sneha n me left . She utilised the time to have a good sleep. A point here on Sneha , the RIDE RESPONSIBLE. Well a duty of ride responsible is to manage everything , and she donned the role perfectly . She was cheering us all when needed, pushing us, singing, cracking jokes , stopping if anyone was left behind . She made sure each n every rider was riding to the end point . Not an easy task , kudos to her for all the efforts. 

We started back and soon reached savner , and with 20 km to go , saw few riders parked in front of us. It was Gajanan bhau, Rishi bhai and Ajay Kulkarni sir. They were feeling sleepy and had decided to take a nap . We bid them good bye and continued our ride towards Nagpur . As the sun started to rise , we reached koradi . It is marvelous to see how much your body craves for the sunlight. As soon as the first rays hit us , my brain was fully activated . With just 10 km to go , we were having a good time in hand .

As we approached the Sadar area , I was filled with exhilaration . This was my longest ride till date , and it was a special one . I had quit at 400 BRM , and  it was coincidence that I was getting back on the 400 BRM only . I was flooded with emotions . I tried to focus on last few km left . Sneha was all pumped up and excited as we crossed the RBI square. From here on it was a full sprint to the finish line . Tarique bhai, Swati, Bhushan, Sudarshan and urmilla were there to greet us . We got lot of photos clicked as we entered. There was a banner hanging ,  I finished 400 km . I looked at it and smiled . The smile of satisfaction. I have achieved a dream . The whole event took 25 hrs 30 min . Yet I was not feeling a bit tired . The joy was overflowing and palpable . We took lot of pics , and finally I took the pic with my bike in my hands overhead . I always dreamt of having this pic . I thanked all my gods , my parents , my sister and my friends , they had stood by me when I was at my weakest . They had given me courage when I needed it the most , and today it all had turned into reality .

The team of riders at the end point

My fav pose.
I sincerely thanked all my co riders for their support throughout the ride. 

Rishi bhai, Gajanan bhau and Ajay sir rolled in few minutes later . And we waited for Mihir Hardikar, our last rider . To ride all distance alone takes lot of courage, and he had just shown the grit to achieve it . Salute to you bro .

As I lay still on the ground at the end point , I saw all the faces surrounding me . All were happy , and all were animated with their talks. I tried to see through them, and I could see the battles each one was fighting, i could see their war marks and the glory of the win in that fight . As the moment went by, I understood a simple fact , each one has fought something or other to achieve this. There is no easy way to glory and everyone deserves the joy 🙂 hats off to all the riders , you won the battle ! 

My friend Aarti called me up and  said to write a blog , I CONQUERED !

More battles lay ahead , and I will face them , step by step . Right now I’m happy to see one item off my bucket list and happiness on the face of aai, Baba, Tai, Nikhil, Nikita , Aarti, Sudarshan, Sneha , jyoti , urmilla , Tarique bhai, Bhushan bhai, Rishi bhai, Gajanan bhau, Balraj bhai and many more .

As the slept on my bed , I could see the past 4 months & 3 days in front of my eyes, the pain, the agony. The efforts , the encouragement , the shadows , the light . The jealousy , the happiness , the water in eyes . The never ending alarms, the forehead sweat , the pounding heart and smile on achieving the task . The stretching , the rest, the determination to come back again . The mountain in sight , the glory of a fight . In the end a voice spread through my mind , a serene voice , spreading calmness as it echoes :

I M CONQUERED !

I QUIT 

Preparing for the 400 km brevet , I was pretty sure , I would be at the finish line . I was about to face the reality , bang in the face.

11 sept 2016, I had memorised the date for so long, the day for my 400 km brevet ( a cycling event , where a fixed distance has to be completed in a fixed duration of time , without any external help, on a human powered cycle) was nearing . I had just completed my 300 km brevet , 3 weeks back and with a good speed . I was pretty confident , that I would do the same on 11 sept . Alas, the destiny had its own plan .

The preparation was going well, I was doing my regular exercise . everything seemed alright , except the small problem, pain in my knee . I was facing the knee pain for quite a few months , and it has reduced completely after my regular exercise and physiotherapy . However , it appeared back all of sudden on 1st sept . I had just 10 days to go. Frantically I started doing my muscle strengthening exercises to get the knee back in shape .

After 9 days it felt much better . On the eve of the ride , we all had gathered at Ncyclopedia to distribute kits to the riders , and brief them on the route .As usual the evening was a smooth affair . We had a wonderful chat with everyone , and I gave a good route briefing and some cycling nuska …. One I forgot myself to implement ( and yes it was THE FACTOR) . Ride at your own speed , do not chase anyone ! How simple ! Yet so difficult to understand !!!!

I began the race day with good energy . I was ready early morning , I completed my breakfast and was pedalling towards the start point in no time . The event started at 5 am from zero mile , and we were all ready to get the rubber burning . As  usual I started slowly , and steadily picked up the pace . Shubham ( my fellow rider, who always accompanies me on big rides and training) was riding with me, and when he is besides me , I had no worry .

After a few km , I noticed some noise in my wheels , I stopped to inspect . The newly installed boomerang lights were making noise . I found a quick solution and started to ride . On the way I found Dr. Ashwini mending his cycle ( he had a series of puncture in last brevet ) and I thought , so early ? Why ? What was wrong ? He seemed confident , so we trotted on.

We continued to ride further , the groups had separated , and each one chose to ride with their comfortable speed . Sudarshan had joined us for the comapany. The wind was just blowing softly ,but it was a cross wind . As we crossed koradi, the wind was blowing fast and it was threatening to become a head wind( a nightmare for any cyclist ) . After a few km,the wheel started making loads of noise and I realised that my boomerang lights had fallen off. I had to stop and find a permanent solution . I took them off and put them in my bag and lost valuable 10 mins ( did it really matter ?) .

I started riding again with my buddies and the wind started getting stronger . I knew by my experience of the route, we had one hell of a climb left . Suddenly 3 riders appeared from behind , I was glad to see the faces of Yash, Sachin and Ashwini . They were riding in combination to avoid the head winds , and we followed the suit . It was a tough ride and we had to turn left at 90 km mark ( and hopefully end of head winds), and that was the motivation to follow them . The divident paid off , slowly and steadily we overtook each n every rider . The dreaded climb came , and here I got separated from all of them, the trio went ahead and shubham and Sudarshan ( s²) were lagging behind . Here I took the decision to pursue the trio and started pedalling hard . They were always in my sight , yet out of my reach . I bent down, and put my head down, get as flat as possible , parallel to the road ( a technique for least resistance, I had learned from Jitesh bhai) and kept pedaling till I reached the trio. After that the journey looked smooth. Surprisingly we were the first to arrive at the checkpoint no. 1.

We had our routine done , got the cards signed , gulped some bananas , (I was waiting for food point for lunch ), and started to pedal ahead . After a km , I saw a bad patch of road , and I thought its just a patch , how wrong I was ! The nightmare had just begun . With each passing km the road patches got bad and bad . At certain point I started cursing myself , for selecting the route ( I am the member of committee who decided the route ) . The consoling feature was that, the winds had gone , and surprisingly the sun was hiding behind the grey clouds .

The volunteers of Washim welcomed us with open hearts, and it was a mini mela over there . atleast 100 people were present there , and it seemed like the matinee show had just got over . frenzy atmosphere, photos everywhere , I forgot for a moment , it was a brevet event . We ate our heartfull of bananas and off we went to road ahead , dreading what the next turn might bring !

For the next 35 km, Dr. Ashwini accompanied me , it was pleasant ride . We shared lot of our thoughts and enjoyed the company . The distance was covered by optimum speed . I was feeling hungry!!?? It wasn’t anticipated . I had calculated it. I shouldn’t be hungry till the food point !!! It was another 15 km that’s 45 min normally , but in this terrain , that was an hour .  I told Ashwini the same , and his reply was : “If you are hungry just eat !!”

It was so simple . yet I had made it so complicated . I opened a chikki from my stock and we both happily shared the sweet delight . Steadily we reached the food point . It was rose in the myriad of desert ,( or is it oasis in the desert ? My mind was too clogged ). The warm faces of the volunteers melted all the strains of the rides and we had a sumptuous lunch . It was a lovely food . Enjoyed it to the core ! Here some riders decided to rest, and I was in hurry ( god only knows why I wanted to hurry ) I started with a 25 min rest . I met S² at this check point . They were riding smoothly , and each rider was cursing the track , including myself !

Zoom …I started from the lunch point , 160 km done , 240 to go, I was well within the qualifying time and well within my set goals . The route was supposed to be a bad one , but the surprisingly , it was a great road . After an hour of riding , I was tired ,and wanted a company badly . All of a sudden , I heard a familiar voice from behind , and it was shubham riding besides me. The joy of seeing him was overwhelming . We kept riding steadily ahead.  And soon were joined by the trio with a change of Dr Ashwini being replaced by Vikas . Vikas is a wonderful rider, I have trained with him few times, he is that type of rider ( slow and steady wins the race ) . And eventually he was the first one across the finish line . So yet again the childhood proverb was true !

As we reached Paratwada- 202 km mark, I was feeling slight pain in my knees . I applied copious omnigel (pain killer spray) , ate some bananas and stretched a little . Yash was suffering from severe knee pain, and he called it a day at paratwada.I was shocked a little , but decided to carry on.

Few km into the paratwada Amravati road , and I was feeling exhausted , it was just 220 km .. It was too early to feel exhausted ! What was happening . I stopped , got down my bike, stretched a little , rested for a while , took out some debris from my rear wheel , drank few sips of water and started riding again. Few km later, I realised ,I was requiring a lot of energy, I stopped and found out that my rear wheel was loosing air , puncture in my rear wheel, a riders ( at least mine) dreaded fear. We got down to business ,and fixed the wheel within 20 min . Quite a few riders overtook us, at this point . I got worried as Dr.Ashwini was still not seen , I rang him up to confirm, and he said that All was good with him . Reassured , shubam and I started our journey to Amravati .

The plan was to reach Amravati before sunset and we achieved that .Here too the volunteers made a delightful preparation. We replenished ourselves in their hospitality and began our journey towards Nagpur . 150 km to go and 15 hours left . It seemed quite achievable . In all this planning, I had missed a very imp point , shubham was without a riding light , and that was scary .I cursed myself for lack of insight and asked shubham to ride besides me for the rest of the journey .

10 km in the ride , we touched the highway . The highway was a smooth road, and only one climb to be negotiated after 40 km mark,near Talegaon and after that it was a butter milk ride ( as smooth as it gets) . I had done practice on that route and I knew, it would be an easy job after Talegaon. I was cherishing this thought , when I noticed my lateral surface of right knee ( iliotibial tract ending to be precise) started to pain !!!!! It was alarm for me. I had suffered the same pain in left knee and I was out of cycling for 2 months for that ! Yash had quit at paratwada for the same ! All the endorphins were draining away and the Adrenaline was running out . Sudden grip of fear engulfed my mind , and the pain started getting unbearable .

I stopped at once , told shubham my problem , took some water, took rest for 10-15 min. We started to ride again but the knee was sore and it was constantly pricking my mind . Fear , is a bad thing , to have it in middle of brevet, is worse .I somehow wanted to reach the next checkpoint, so that I could rest there .I had plenty of time in my hand, so there was no rush . Few minutes later, my worst fears came true. I couldn’t ride few metres . I found solace at a petrol pump , took out my shoes and rested my wary mind . I shared my fears with shubham , and he understood . I didn’t want to quit . I had dreamt of this night for the last few days , I wanted to finish the event badly . I had practiced for it , I had given my days for it . As I rested there , the pain reduced a little , but the damage was done . Fear had taken over , and I was convinced, I would injure myself more if I decided to continue .I took another 30 minutes rest before calling up the organisers and telling my decision to quit .

Those 30 minutes were the heaviest 30 minutes I faced . The decision to call quit , is never a easy one . You know that you have to do that 270 km again some day to reach this point , it will not be easy . All the hard work will go in wain .The mind responded , we have another day Sarang , we will come back . I was feeling sad . This is not the result I wanted . I saw Sudarshan and Dr. Ashwini enter the petrol station . They had decided to take rest and take it slowly from there . I told them my plan , they asked me not to quit, but I was unable to walk. And that was the end of it . I called the volunteers at next checkpoint and told my decision . Few minutes later Sneha called me , telling me not to quit, keep riding , I had plenty of time . I listened to her patiently , but my mind was already exhausted and it had made the decision , the pain was unbearable to ride and I vowed to come back another day !

I vowed to the stars, the moon , the emptiness surrounding me , shubham and myself , I will be back ! You know what ? There was no solace in that promise , I left my dreams at that 270 km mark . I felt the agony of  quitting. I tried my best to hide it throughout the night , throughout the coming days. But it kept on haunting me , the pain was at least bearable , but the thought left a scar , numbed one , full of doubts , with a big hole in my insight ! Next day morning , I saw messages and posts of my fellow riders completing the brevet. They were reaching the finish point at very last minute, but that was the point , finishing it within the time . There was no 1st or 2nd, there were just the ones who completed within the time . And with each thought, my heart sank more. I pittied myself , why was I behaving like this ? Why was the joy of my fellow riders completing was making me numb instead of making me happy. That day I realised for the first time in my life , what was the pain of quitting , what was sorrow of letting go in middle of the event! I had failed , and I had realised my errors , through hard way ! I was getting accustomed to a new feeling , which I had never experienced before , or rather didn’t pay much attention before ! I was tasting a new medicine , and it was bitter one !
I spent the next few hours contemplating my emotions and my ride ! I knew it from the very first moment   but didn’t have the courage to accept . I had done the same mistake , I had adviced others to avoid ! DO NOT CHASE ANYONE , RIDE AT YOUR OWN SPEED . In the process of completing early and chasing the trio and the time , I rode on higher gear ratios , meaning I had used a lot of energy riding fast . That day Rajesh ji called me, and taught me a lot in those few minutes . He advised me to avoid high gears for longer rides and guided me for the future . I had learned a lesson .Till the point I felt exhausted , my quadriceps were completely fired up, my core muscles had gone array , and I had started using my accessory muscles for the riding . And that precisely , led to my downfall ( a bit dramatic, I know ) .

Last few weeks have been quite heavy for me . I haven’t cycled a bit,  haven’t exercised at all . Each time I think of the future brevet or  exercise that fear comes back . I have adjusted to living with a constant pain in my knee , which is bearable .But this dismay, the fear of quitting , is the worse . I tried a lot to get back , but the grip is iron clad .

I had quit on 11 sept night , 8 pm precisely , yet the tremors are still visible in my mind .I had quit .

Quit – how easy is it do , yet how heavy it can be live !

Me with my training gang – Shubham , Sudarshan and Rishi bhai.

Vikas bhai – the first one at finish line . He is my hero ! With Neel my partner for 300 km brevet last month.

Jitesh bhai , tarique bhai- the guru

sachin Palewar – the climber

Aniruddha- the sensational rider

Yash – the fastest

Dr Ashwini – the brave

Sudarshan – the spirited one

Rajesh ji – my inspiration

That’s me ! Enroute !!!!! With shubham.

As I was writing this article , I went through a lot of emotions , and I thought a lot !

I had quit , yes I had . So what ?

That day has gone . I have to start fresh again . I have to get back on the saddle and get back on the road . That is where my heart belongs .

I promise to myself , that I will be back , this time it brings a smile on my face and enlightens my soul 🙂

I WILL BE BACK!

Heart Beat

Aman : do you like chocolate drink or strawberry?
Asha : I would love to drink chocolate with extra chocolate in it .She replied with a blush.
For a moment he kept looking at those mesmerising eyes , dark brown with a tinge of blackness. It Seems as if, the huge earth has opened a mine for the world to explore. Full of mystery, fun and excitement, they became livid when she smiled.
It was his favourite work. He would sit in front of her whole day long and swim into that deep brown sea. She would keep on saying things about her daily chores. She was lively when she spoke, her expression were amazing, but nothing was at par with her eyes. Aman hardly ever remembered what the talk was, he was busy swimming the ocean of vastness of her eyes. He was swimming on and on and on…..
The images started blurring up , a whirlpool started to form in front of his body. He got panicked. The whole body felt numb. He could not sense anything for a moment except his heartbeat. It was beating frantically dhakdhakdhak dhakdhakdhak. With a kick the adrenaline rushed into the system and he started swimming against the current. The harder he tried to swim the further the whirlpool started sucking him in, in towards its vastness , towards its epicentre. He stretched his arm, started kicking harder and harder. Remembering all the lessons taught to him during his swimming training, he started using every bit of knowledge he had to survive. But the results started falling further. The more he struggled the more the water started sucking him in. it was like the swamp water. Thick and swampy, make you pull in and in, more you try to come out and out. Finally he started praying to his lord Ganesha, “ please Bappa, please , come n save me; save me please” . none of his prayers seemed to be answered. He got sucked in more n more and he started shouting frantically for help. At last the water covered whole of his body. He could breathe no more. His eyes started to bulge trying to find a way out. He started searching for any breakthrough possible. The mind kept shouting “Let go! Let go!”. Aman did no understand and he kept on swimming harder and harder in search of way out. Slowly , his leg started to give away, he could feel the carbon-dioxide rising in his body. He was feeling drowsy. It was becoming difficult for him to concentrate. He started using the other 3 limbs in haphazard manner , but the results were the same. Slowly whole of the body started to get numb. The legs, the thighs, the waist, the abdomen, then the chest , the hands also gave in, slowly the face and everything seemed motionless. Only the heartbeat was heard. Dhak dhadak.. dhak dhadak… it started slowing now. The mind was shouting “ Let go! Let go!”. But the heart did not listen and slowly and slowly it started to fade….. suddenly a hand came and pulled Aman out. He gasped for breath, And started moving all his limbs frantically.
Aman woke with a sudden rush. He was breathing rapidly. All his body was completely wet. All his muscles were aching badly. His leg felt almost numb. Slowly it dawned to him, he was only dreaming. It was a bad dream. The worst he had had since the breakup .It was almost a month , since his breakup but it felt as if yesterday , when he was sitting and chatting with asha. The day was  bad, he remembered. Friday morning 7 am. It all began with the bad headache and rest day followed up same way. But the whole world came crashing the moment Asha said those words. She was saying something for a long time, but aman was not paying attention, he was engrossed in her eyes. When suddenly noticed redness in it. She was crying, crying loudly. That is when he heard her : “ I cant live with you anymore. I’m breaking off!” . Within seconds, even before Aman could understand what is happening, she was gone. And with her gone, gone was the joy of his life.
The first week was the worst , he didn’t feel like eating, drinking, doing anything. All time his eyes were set on the mobile, trying to call her or hoping that she would call him back. Every time the phone vibrated his heart started racing, hoping it was from her. He stopped going to work. He stopped talking to parents. Tried staying in his room as much as possible .
His mother entered his room. She sat close to his head. His eyes were wet, staring at the ceiling. She sat quietly next to him, just observing him. He slowly gazed towards her, lifted his head and kept on her lap. “Maa please take away this pain, I cannot bear it anymore. I want to die maa. I want to die. I cant live without her…” and he started crying loudly. She quietly watched him, took his hand in his hand and started singing his favourite song. The song had a wonderful effect on him, he stopped crying , his heart started to settle, his head became clear. He was just listening to the music , the words were still not clear. But slowly and slowly they came up to him. She was singing the Gayatri mantra :
“ Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt !
OM !”
she had a peculiar way of stretching the OM, creating ripples, and magnetic effect. The ripples started clearing his mind. Seeing the change in his face, she knew that the mind is clearing. She calmly placed her hand on his forehead, in front of his third eye, and chanted the mantra; tremendous ripples started to create in his mind. His delusions disappeared, his face started livening , a smile broke on his face and he went to sleep.
He started floating in the sleep. His body was becoming heavy with each passing moment. Yet he was feeling lighter and lighter. The ripples of OM were creating peace in his mind and body. He saw a bright light in front of him. As he looked further he saw a door with staircase. He started walking towards it. “ With each step you take you will feel more heavy and relaxed” mother guided him. “ One, two … Deep breathes, release all your worries, three… Four, five.. You are becoming relaxed and relaxed with each step, six… Seven…. OMMMMM…. Relax.. Eight… Deep breathes… Nine and ten”. He was standing in front of the door. There was a bright light coming from the other side of the door. As he opened the door he was surrounded by the bright white light. He could not see anything, yet he had no fear. He took a deep breath and stepped forward.
He looked back and saw the door was slowly fading away . He looked around, he could feel as if he was moving, He was amazed to see himself on a boat. The boat was sailing smoothly in a river. He started looking at the surrounding, the river had 20 m bank, there were mountains on both the side. The mountains were full of flowers. They were all types of flowers. He wished he could touch them, and as he wished , the boat started moving towards the shore. The boat came to halt at banks of river, Aman got down and moved towards the flowers. The aroma was refreshing, it entered his mind and relaxed him further. He bent down and started noticing carefully each and every flower present. They were all fresh buds, sparkling in the light of sun , creating mini rainbows on every inch. He slowly rose up and looked further. Beyond a certain point, he saw a place. It was a special place, and it was drawing him towards it. He started moving towards it. And as he rose, he saw a small pond. The pond was full of clear water. The water was so clear that he could see the bottom of the pond. At the centre of the pond was a single lotus flower. It was a flower which he had never seen in his life. A huge pink flower, it was so big that one person could easily sit on it.
He started walking towards the lotus. Strangely he had feeling that he would just glide over the water. It was a magical water indeed, he did not get wet, he was just gliding smoothly over the water. Gradually he approached the lotus. It was more brighter than he had thought, yet it had a soothing effect to the eyes. He stared at the petals. They had a texture of fine fabric, he touched it. They were as smooth as fresh milk. He moved his arm over it. It responded back with a warm feeling. The feel was as real as it could be. As he approached the other side he saw a hillock just besides the lotus : A pathway to sit on it. He walked over it and looked at the lotus. The lotus was an amazing conglomerate of petals, so beautifully arranged that one could hardly see the start and end of it. As he sat on it, the petals moved to comfortably accommodate his posture. He felt as if he was floating in the air, yet firmly connected to the ground. He slowly gazed around. He could no more see the way he came from. All his worries were slowly evading him. His heart was settled and beating softly . He closed his eyes.
He was taught the art of concentrating on ones breath. He started feeling each and every breath. From the entry into the nose, as it passed through the airway, into the lung. The warmth, moist and the aroma of it. He felt it all. Slowly he could feel the air pass through the lung and diffuse into the flowing blood. His thoughts were now concentrated on the passage of air throughout the body. He started from the head. As the blood flowed through head, he could feel all the muscles relaxing, slowly his head started to relax . He could feel the tension muscles relaxing, slowly and slowly. Then as he moved down the face started to relax. The eyes, face, ears, cheeks, lips, mouth, and nose, slowly each part relaxed. Then he concentrated on the chin, the chin is known to be the emotional baggage of the body. As he did so, all the thoughts related to his breakup started to surface up, yet he was calm, there was no struggle. The thoughts just came and went. He could see that they are not affecting him anymore. Slowly and slowly the thoughts vanished, and he could feel the weight loosing his mind. He felt at ease. As he moved down the throat , relaxing his neck, the upper back , following the spine and lower back, the spine became straight yet relaxed. Slowly moving forward he could feel his chest and abdomen relaxing. The shoulders and arm and forearm felt limp and at ease. Moving down the waist slowly the thighs, the calf, the feet and the toes all got relaxed. All his body felt relaxed and at ease. He could now feel the air flowing through each and every part of his body. Slowly he started go further deep. He could now understand his situation, he had everything he needed. Asha leaving him, did not bother him anymore. He felt the ease and calm. He just caught to the humming of OM. The word OM sent a ripples through his body,activating each and every cell. The cell became lively and started emitting a soothing white light.
He was feeling relaxed and at ease. Each passing moment was lifting the burden of his heart. The light reached each and every part of his body, making him lighten up. He heard a voice , it wasn’t clear first. As he concentrated he could here it perfectly . It was AMAN calling out to him. He could make out the huskiness of his voice. It said : “ AMAN you are a special person. You have special powers, the most important being the power of love. Everywhere you go , the atmosphere is filled with joy. You have the courage to make a person smile. Each person has a role in our life. As you know yourself, Asha has taught us a lot in our life. She has played her part , her journey in your life ends here, let go of yourself, don’t hold on to her. You have a task for yourself. There is so much love surrounding you, yet you have made yourself obscure to all of it. Open your eyes my beloved, see the love around you.” Soon images of his parents, grandparents and friends started revolving around him. They all were standing in a circle surrounding him with their warmth. Their faces were lighted up and all were looking at him with tremendous love and affection. He could feel the love that was being showered on him. He began to cry and as he did so, he started feeling relaxed, he could feel his heart beat again. He smiled , swept away his tears, and started walking towards them. As he walked the joy started filling his core, he could remember the days of his youth and masti. He stopped in front of his parents and embraced them tightly. With love and compassion flowing through him, his eyes swelled again with tears, but this time with joy. Turn by turn he embraced each and every person present there. Each hug was reciprocated by love and warmth. He was amazed by the energy flow. Slowly he walked to the centre and bowed to them all. He sat down back on the lotus, folded his arms in NAMASKAR and thanked them all for being there for him. He asked them to kindly return whenever he needs help. Slowly everyone walked away. he closed his eyes.
As he opened them , he could see the door in front of him. He heard his mothers voice : “ if you are finished walk up-to the door and open it.” He walked to the enlightened door and opened it. He was greeted with stairs leading him down. “ with each step you shall come back to your body and feel your surrounding” saying so she gently placed her hand on his heart and started counted ten to One.  As the counts went she could feel the heart beat and the excitement . Her son was back and the heart told it all : Dhak Dhak Dhak Dhak ……..!