I Cycled 53 Kilometres to Beat My Demons & It Was No Cake Walk!

Weight no issue, I reminded myself with a smile as I managed to complete the 50-odd kilometre cycling trail.

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I embarked on a personal weight loss trip – a 53-km-long one!
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"Ping! Ping!" The alarm let out its shrill cry as the hour and the minute hand (keeping their promise to me) touched 3 and 30, respectively. As the #citythatneversleeps lay shrouded in darkness with absolutely no hint of the imminent morning, I slapped my hand against the screen, eager to shush it.

Alas, the damage was done, and besides – old habits die hard.

I’d been an early morning homework person/Netflix viewer/treadmill hopper for as long as I could remember – and this morning, I was definitely up. All it took was a splash of the coldest water and a jiggy with the toothbrush to nudge me fully awake and raring to rush out the door… I was up to conquer a first in my fitness journey…a cycling trail.

Had I Bitten Off More Than I Could Chew?

At 7 am, four silent figures stood eagerly waiting for the 7.20 am ferry at Mumbai port: three men and one woman. I know we were all thinking a million to a dozen thoughts right then; my anxieties ran to the tune of “Will I be able to complete this trail? Will I look like a complete failure if I can’t?” We weren’t talking cycling around the housing society anymore – this was a massive 53-kilometre-long trail, frequented by uneven patches and sudden turns. Had I bitten off more than I could chew?

The roads we pedalled across were unlike anything I had seen back in Mumbai.
The roads we pedalled across were unlike anything I had seen back in Mumbai.
(Photo Courtesy: Reshmi Bhattacherya)

As the ferry touched the shores of Alibaug, and we heaved our respective wheels off of the boat on to the beaten-down little road, we knew our adventure had begun. The sun was shy, which meant we could cover most of the trail without having to stop for a sip. The roads we pedalled across were unlike anything I had seen back in Mumbai – Nature’s absolute best with lush green shrubbery and the occasional trickle of a stream where a little black bird had hopped to, for a drink. The trail was opening our eyes to a part of the city we’d never seen before.

We cycled on, ticking off kilometre after kilometre – genuinely forgetting to keep track of how long we’d come. I was beginning to allow a quiet sense of triumph to seep in!

It was during the journey back, however, that I first felt it – the sharp pain on my wrist. It was a series of short jabs at first, before the pain began to sear through my arm and I cried out. My wrists could no longer support the weight of my body and I called out to my trail lead in desperation – “I can’t!”

Without a word, he slapped two bands across my wrists and helped me mount my cycle again, saying simply, “Try now”.

I shook my hand, wanting to jump off, but one look at his stern gaze and I reconsidered. I began pedalling again – and this time, I could feel the wristbands bolstering my upper body. My trail lead didn’t give up on me; cycling at close quarters, he kept shouting, “Just 5 more and you’ll be on the ferry back; just 5 more!”

We cycled on, ticking off kilometre after kilometre – genuinely forgetting to keep track of how long we’d come.
We cycled on, ticking off kilometre after kilometre – genuinely forgetting to keep track of how long we’d come.
(Photo Courtesy: Reshmi Bhattacherya)

Completing What I Started

“It’s easier for you,” I told him. “You’re fit and you’re strong, and I’m small and chubby.” I hadn’t been able to wrest this thought from my head throughout the trail – but my lead only smiled as he said, “Everything in life is a mind game. Your mind controls your every move – never the other way round. Listen to your mind and make it your best friend.”

And that’s what I did for the next one hour. Every second seemed to test my mettle and I fought against the urge to push away the cycle and stop. The pain in my wrists had now travelled to my legs, and I had given up on speed. But I was going to finish what I’d started, I determined.

The last leg of our trail took an hour to complete (my trail lead had glibly lied about those “5 more” kilometres). But complete it, I did. I was able to mount off my steed and stand on my two shaking legs as I waited for the ferry.

As the ferry inched away from the shoreline, I allowed myself to savour the personal triumph.
As the ferry inched away from the shoreline, I allowed myself to savour the personal triumph.
(Photo Courtesy: Reshmi Bhattacherya)

As the ferry inched away from the shoreline, I allowed myself to savour the personal triumph. Whatever pain, whatever sweat lingered, only reflected the rush of adrenaline I’d felt when I jumped off the cycle after the 50-odd kilometre trail. Weight no issue, I reminded myself.

I looked over at my trail lead and asked, “When can we do this again?” He threw back his head in laughter.

(Reshmi has been a financial research associate for five years. She is also a traveller by heart, a fashionista by choice and a writer by love.)

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