Recently I did one bicycling ride. A long one. Into an unknown terrain, with unknown people (then) and with lot of skepticism (then). This was mind-blowing..! It changed me quite a bit, as a person. It modified my thought process in many ways and made things look very simple..! Through this blog I embark you all on this journey!
Well it started with one of our family friends (Yogesh) telling me about one group through which he and his wife (Gauri) had done several bicycling tours in different parts of the country. We all are sports-lovers. I love to play, do gym, jog and bicycle. Pune is becoming more like a cement city and has less to offer in terms of good bicycling trails. Hence I would follow a standard route mostly through the city each weekend. The pollution, traffic and noise would keep me alert on the roads and was happy doing the same each week, until Yogesh and Gauri spoke to me. I have a busy schedule, professionally, and hence I barely gave any thought to their suggestions. However, I did see their videos and photographs and it did interest me. I met Gauri and she told me about the upcoming ride to Bhuj and Rann of Kutch, in Gujarat. I still procrastinated and didn’t respond. She told me about the wonderful train journey and bicycling through infinite roads. This time, I put an enquiry to the organizers (www.speakingwheels.com) and got some information. This way I met Rahul, one of the organizers, over phone. Rahul was in no rush. Very slowly and steadily he explained the scope of tour to me. I had called him to tell him that I will not go; but the call ended up with my confirmation to go! “I would rather travel with unknowns, rather than the known, if I wish to explore in life”, was the sentence from Rahul, which was the turning point! Now I was set to explore on a journey with 20-odd unknowns, into an unknown terrain and with almost zero expectations!! And the day arrived.
Travelling from Pune to Mumbai, I met Rupali, who was as new as me, but knew the group well. We had wonderful journey till Bandra station. I saw a railway station after two decades and it looked different. It was quite busy, but since it was late night train, comparatively one could concentrate on details of the station. It looked clean. There were electric carts for old people to commute between platforms. The platforms were well lit, displays were clear and coach positions were clearly electronically marked. I was impressed!! In the train the coaches were clean and Indian Railways provided neat and clean bedsheets, blankets and pillows. Each one of us (20+) had different coach/seats and arrangements. Hence, we would not have met for the entire journey at all. Anyways I didn’t know anyone, except Rupali, by now. But Rahul came in to chat. Amit, who was another organizer, also came to my seat for a chat. Many of our troop gathered around and I found that each one was on their own journey into the unknown. Amit also made me comfortable through his conversations. We got talking to the Gujju family in my compartment. They shared their Theplas and laddoos magnanimously. They didn’t look very well-off… but “being Royal has nothing to do with being Rich”!!
We reached Bhuj and in a small autorickshaw travelled to a hotel and settled in. I got introduced to Netra who was sharing my room along with Rupali. I was sharing a room, also, after a decade, with someone. Netra had come from Jodhpur and her bicycle had come from Pune, which was rented. She was on an exploratory trip, next-level! I was impressed.
As we started the drives, I realized that it was utter fun!! Some snoring in the rooms, great food during the stay at each place, people whom we met in Bhuj and Rann, the artisans and artists we met, the wonderful back-up vehicle people and infinite memories created during the next four days were just amazing. Aboli, one of the co-participants, a doctor by profession, was amazing! She accompanied me in an extremely boring patch of track. A wonderful person with a mix of maturity and fun-loving nature at the same time! Everyone enjoyed the place by afternoon and evenings in their best attires and infinite photographs were taken.
The cycling through Chari dessert was the best!! It was literally patch of sand track. It had no vehicles. Just camels, bullocks and few foxes! This stretch of land had no habitat. The Infinity-road was also the same. It was a long road of more than 30 kms of stretch with no vegetation, trees and traffic. As you drive by yourself, you experience something which you will never feel in any city/town. Driving through nothingness, emptiness, blankness and still consciousness. You are only with yourself. This is a unique experience. Thoughts just come and go and slowly they disappear and you are into entire consciousness with bliss. This is a meditative experience. This is the state in which you are not tired, thirsty nor hungry. You are just in your own zone, with yourself. As I travelled through this terrain I thought, all co-riders are just fellow travelers, enjoying their own journey, which sometimes coincides with mine. We travel a while together, talk a bit, exchange our ideas and views, and then we continue our own track. I am not expecting anything from them and vice versa. It’s just pure chat, eat and enjoying together. Make good memories together, joke out on the situations and live in the instances and pass by. It appeared so simple. In fact, we all were together, and yet were independent!!
The highlight was the ride on the Independence Day. The drive towards India-Bridge which is Indian Border was magnificent. The day had a ride of almost 90 Kms. This was the most bicycling I would have done in my life, on one single day. I did it quite comfortably and reached the destination. But on that turn, Amit was waiting. He said we have to go 10 kms more to complete 100. I said “no-way”! 90 is also my first time. He said 100 is great and I should do it. He will come along. With hesitation I agreed and he pushed me to complete it. Conversations, jokes and observing terrain around made these extra miles look less tiring and we completed 100!! Was a great feeling. I came home with new energy, new lessons and new experiences.
I realized that if I had gone with some expectations, I would have had something to compare and the experience would have been biased. If I did not had Amit to push me to 100, I would have missed the experience. If Rahul had not convinced me to “venture with unknowns”, I would have missed a great experience. If I had not travelled infinite terrain with 360o views, I would not have “found myself”. I feel that our life is actually this simple. If we live it with zero expectations, it will keep on surprising you and make your journey interesting!! You will find good people at every turn and corner of this travel who would push you to do better, guide you to new routes and just let you be with yourself!! Sometimes you will also find “sweepers” who would assist you through the travel in difficult terrains. Such journeys will slowly give you an opportunity to be either one of those who helped… to boost your fellow-mates, to sweep and upbeat the lagging riders, to assist others for arrangements and scheduling. Just like your professional experience makes you mentors!
It was a wonderful bicycling experience which helped me realize the simplicity in life..!! Therefore, as I always say, atleast one road in our life that we should choose, has to be a dirt-road!! This road helps you self-realize, re-boot, meditate, take your own stalk and explore your horizons! It gives you a perspective from Nothingness to Beyond..!! Thanks to team Speaking Wheels!!