So I started riding last Dec 15th on a cheap Indian bike - viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4719
It hasn't been all that long, really, and there are so many people here who've been riding much longer. But for me it's a milestone. I've never stuck to any sport/physical activity for such a long time. Weights, jogging, badminton. Here's how it usually goes -- 1 week to 3 months of intense involvement, burn-out, and then avoiding the place.
To be fair, it's not always my fault. When I went to the gym, the brain-dead "instructor" there told me to come early in the morning on an empty stomach, without coffee even, and work on my cardio. Instead of feeling fresh and invigorated, I would be dead tired at the end of my workout - I hated it, and I hated him. I went regularly for 3 months, but then one day I skipped it, and I never felt like going back. I hear now that the gym (one of Bangalore's older, more popular gyms, mind you) is on the verge of shutting down. Good riddance.
When I started cycling, it was an impulsive thing. I was sitting at my desk, and I thought it would be nice to ride a bike. I googled 'bangalore bicycles', found the BOTS site, read the FAQ, didn't understand anything, and the same evening, I went to a local 'cycle mart' and picked up my first LAS for all of 7,500. It's probably worth mentioning that at this point, I weighed (around) 110 kgs, and was a chain smoker (30 cigarettes a day). Just five years before that, I was a healthy 75 kgs.
The worst part was that I had never realized how much I had let myself go.
So I started to wake up early and ride, because no matter how tiring it was, it was fun goddamit. I would do 10 km and be panting at the end, but I'd come back home happy and the rest of my day would go great. Within a week, I started riding to office (5 km away). Within a month, I had become much stronger, my smoking habit had become very occasional (still is), and I did my first (non-continuous) 100 km on the 10th of Jan. I met a couple of friends there (Sampath and Madhavi), thanks to whom I was able to complete the ride.
That ride was when I became a real cyclist. 100 km without a vehicle? Did I really just do that? The kind of independence and possibility that a bike offers is amazing. It still gives me goosebumps to think about how much farther I will travel on my own power, and what places I still have to explore. Every time I turn off the beaten road and find a new, unknown route that is unexpectedly beautiful, I feel this insane rush of serotonin. It's addictive.
Like I mentioned in a different thread, I have lost at least 15 kilos since then. I have been suffering severe bouts of manic-depression since I was 16. I now ride/run almost daily, and my mood has stabilized to a large extent. I eat healthier, without trying. I've met some great people. I've seen some breathtaking views. I've had the best meals of my life after long days in the saddle. I drink less now, but I enjoy it more.
- Warming up makes all the difference. Don't push too hard too early.
- Rest is important. Don't cycle everyday, take a break when you feel energy dropping. It'll make you stronger.
- Some days, you're a roadie, other days you're a tourer, and some other days you're a mountain biker. Go with open arms.
- Find your rhythm. Once you're in the sweet spot, you can ride forever.
- Eat wisely. Feed your face = Turn your feet. Even if you're trying to lose weight, don't ride without eating. You will
suffer, you will
- Sometimes, you just can't. There's no shame in pushing your bike up that hill. You'll ride it another time and wonder why it felt so hard the last time.
- Talk to the locals when you travel. Especially when you're riding around remote villages, people can be genuinely curious. You'll find that many are eager to help you if you take the time to talk to, rather than just ask of, them. Of course, there are assholes everywhere, so be smart.
- Learn to fix a puncture. Carry a spare tube and a pump. Always
. I had a flat yesterday after more than six months. And yesterday was the first time I hadn't taken my pump.
- Try running. I was the last person you'd expect to see running, but here I am actually enjoying it. It does wonders to your endurance and ability to sustain a sprint.
- If someone has to ask you why you're riding, he'll never understand.
- In the beginning, you may need company to ride, but after a while, try riding alone. It's a different, but equally enjoyable, trip. You set your own pace, you're lost in your random thoughts. Pedaling is a hypnotic motion.