Tuesday, December 9

What am I thankful for ?

 Life is a journey …

The real challenge in life is to find the way and reach the end of it on time. If it is done, the dear and the near will applause. 
We may not see them do it,... we may not hear them say it..., 
   but there will be a soft applause... 
   an applause we appreciate in dead-silence! 

Often, it isn’t the end which is important ... it is the journey which is.

Come December, there are thoughts about the year,.. 
a cool season is in progress called the Advent, a Christmas and then a New Year.
What is the best thought I can think in this season? This year, I have written less blogs and a haven't put words to my thoughts the way I must have done previous years. 

I have sat behind day-traders in stock exchange to watch them play their game. They do it like gambling: not knowing their outcome. "Is my journey like that of a day-trader?", sometimes I ask. 

End of this year, what am I thankful  for?

Without beaches, bike and the sea breeze, life would have been a little difficult for me... 

How is it that I cannot thank all the people who have helped me make my life come to this point? Many times I take people for granted... the family for granted... the friends and the clients for granted. But for them, where am I?  Today, I look at them and say, "Thank You"!

I thank God for my bike..  and how it helped me meet many amazing people on the way. Without my bike, I would not have met any of those minds! 

End of the year, what strikes my heart most is a quotation from an old big-boss of the company I worked with, the Coca-Cola. Reading this quotation drives fear, anger and some bitterness in me...
Doesn't matter , I have some more time  to do better...  
Life is a journey and some of us can take a new road to do it.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.  Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”...  
          Brain Dyson ( former COO of Coca-Cola)

And Dear God, I am thankful for every breath in my life, cuz I value my relationship with You!  

Monday, November 24

My best loved poem...

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
  If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son

Poem : "If—" is a poem by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling 
Photos:    All my never before published photos of precious rides ....  

Sunday, October 26

Why Ride ?

After all these years of riding, I have understood that physical fitness and the soundness of the mind are two integral elements in enjoying a long endurance ride.  The second factor is the machine that the rider rides: your bicycle. The rider has to fit himself fully to his cycle. This is largely compromised by even advanced riders. Many pick a bike like the way they pick a ready-made brief and start using it absolutely without bike-fitting. In an endurance ride, any compromise in bike-fitness will leads to the slow development of fatigue. Moreover, as the ride progress, the fatigue grows steadily and the comfort of the ride deteriorates. At one point, fatigue cries out aloud, making it difficult for the rider to enjoy the ride. Then, it is a struggle between the rider and his poor-fit bicycle to reach the destination. This is not all about an endurance ride. 

For a Malayali, maintaining an all year-round physical fitness is a major challenge. The continuous rains in the monsoon and the tailing rains in the subsequent season of post-monsoon keeps any Kerala rider indoor. The only method to escape from this to have an indoor trainer. 

Regular workouts on an indoor trainer should be supplemented with strict diet and a regular regime in a local gymnasium. One of the most advanced, yet simple workout a rider can perform on his trainer is the “Speed Interval” workout. Added to it, a strict high-fiber and nutritious diet and a schedule to tone up the body in a gym  completes the requirements to keep yourself ride-ready  !!

End of the day, there is a magic question every endurance ride has to ask himself, "Why ride?"

Photos from the first major ride after the rains. 


Sunday, October 5

There is another sky

Got a little distracted today seeing all the flowers, butterflies, and bees.

Home garden is credited to my wife. She takes care of it. I enjoy the bloom.

After the long office hours, it is almost evening by the time I reach home. With a weak sun ready to set, the sky often is in no mood to light up my garden. Still, I enjoy sitting outside and seeing all these flowers in the twilight hours. 

The joy of the garden lights up something special . Even after a long bicycle spin, reaching home wet and salty, tired, hungry, or thirsty, the garden bloom is a welcome sight. 

Sitting outside, by the garden on a Sunday like this, after a short and brisk  90 Km cycling, I was eager to see the blooms.

The yellow flowers dominate rest of the colors. They have almost invaded leaving only a little room for rest of the colors to show off. What was more spectacular was the number of the butterflies and the bees. I ran to get my camera.  But it was of no use. Somehow, the butterflies and the bees seem to sense my presence near them and were flying away. 

After all, they were doing this since millions of years. I don't think there is anything special about it today. May be, I was noticing it only now !!

As an school boy, I used to read Emily Dickinson and think on her verses. Today too an Emily Dickinson ('There is another sky') came running to me :  
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!


Saturday, August 2

A tryst with Fort Angelo

The Fort Angelo is one of the most important seashore forts of Kerala. 

I made a tryst with this beautiful location to see if it can be my next cycling destination. Just 102 Km from Calicut, it can be a beautiful place where I can come and stay put for some time.

( I wonder if the department of the Archeological Survey of India will allow my cycle inside the fort! ) 

The mighty laterite structures are a great sight to see, feel, and stand beside. The colonial powers were generous to use this building material as their primary source for their massive structures. Baked bricks were never used in any of their buildings in Malabar, when these red stones were available in abundance. 

In 1498, the Portuguese navigator Vasco De Gama set his eyes on Mapila Bay and asked the then local king, Kolathiri Raja, if a settlement could be built. The benevolent king was pleased to give him the prized spot of Mapila Bay. Later, as Portugal forces weakened and as the colonial power rolled into the hands of the Dutch, they added more structures to this fort. Finally, the British brought their changes, adding security at all the sides of the fort, making it an important military location.

The architectural feature of the fort is composite: that of the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British put together. The beauty of the structure is that, all the three sides of the fort are surrounded by sea with long spectacular view of the distant sea. The built up is huge and massive. The entire structure is made out of local laterite stones. The lavish use of these stones will make one wonder as to how these stones were hurled all the way to the mouth of the bay and lifted up so high to put them in such a precise manner. Stones are dressed like teacakes cut and kept on a tea table. After more than 500 years of constant exposure to sun, rain, and salt water, I cannot spot any major deterioration in the masonry work. The ramparts are beaten by strong waves 24 X 7, and still it holds perfect. I wonder what type of mortar was used to hold these stones against the beating of the waves day and night ! 

The restored flag mast stands at the exact location where the original stood. Standing there and looking across the sea, I was feeling the strong winds of the times caressing my face and whole …. When there wasn’t any means of signaling to the distant sailors but the unfurling of flags in different shapes, color, and size and the use of the cannon booms, these flag masts were lifelines.
What a time it must have been to stand miles away in this rough, rocky sea on a fighting vessel to spot this fort at Mapila Bay! 
Many times, the flags of the colonial colors might have flown half-mast, many times the colors might have been brought down signaling the change of guard and many times the colors might have been dragged down to sign a violent takeover.
Today, the mast is silent … silent like the fort.

These structures were built by the Dutch when they brought in their famous cavalry  to fight the British. Think of the early 16th century when more than 200 Dutch horses stood war-ready in these horse-stables. These walls must have listened to the low and gentle neighing of those horses, having come a long way from their Occidental native lands. What surprised me is the coolness and the comfort of these structures which were in good condition by any standards.

The Portuguese fortified this built-up with high ramparts and totally isolated it from mainland with deep water-moats all around. Added to that, cannons were placed on the strategic merlons pointing to sea and land. It would have been almost impossible for the enemies to run over this fort without negotiating these moats. Later, the Dutch built ammunition-house and stored gunpowder in this fort. The British added more cannons and built additional crenellations to the battlement of the fort.

The once used living quarters, Church and the basic amenities of the fort  are not the same as we see it today. The fort reached its glory during the reign of the Dutch Colonial power, when their Governor resided in it. Today, we only see empty buildings, much of it exposed to the elements of nature. Still, we can see that stones and the wood staying together to give a shape and form of the past…

The only surviving writings in the fort is an epithet. It tells of the death of Susanna Weyerman, the first wife of the Dutch Governor of Malabar Godfried Weyerman, at the age of 17. Was she buried somewhere in this fort? But what surprised me is that there are no religious signs or quotations from the scriptures on this epithet. Instead, there is a strange sign of a skull and bones carved on the granite.  

P.S : I couldn’t do a major photo shootout. I could only click few shots of the fort as I was with my family and family-shots had to be prioritized.  



Tuesday, June 24

A POEM and a BIKE ...

Note like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed , sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.

From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 

Keep, ancient lands, you storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

*** * ***

Post Scripts: 
Poem is "the New Colossus" by
the the Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus.

The Bike is

resting up hills in Waynad, KERALA.

Cold winds blowing across the hills,
or in the deep dark  by the golden bamboos,
SURLY is the owner's pride !!    

Sunday, June 15

Rideable ART is my CyCle

There is always the uncertainty in the word 'solo'.
Life without uncertainty is boring.... 
       holed up in a strange road,
       the locals circling around you,
       a fLat rubber,
       broken chain, 

       oR running out of food or drink.  
Still, if there is freedom and individuality
 solo game is the name of fulfilment, 

 freedom finds full expression in solo spins.

130 km of solo ride.  
Up a favorite hill.
Maiden century ride on a new tomato-red bike
SURLY calls it 'Pacer'

Lakkidi is famous for rains. Lakkidi tops the world's register for the highest degree of rainfall.
Through a meandering spin from Calicut to Adivaram (foothills), Lakkidi beckons me to my hills.
Every time I climb these ghat-roads, I see this tree. It tells me to wait and look at her.
How can I wait?
Life is too short to WAIT

The pleasant story of this ride is the 44 km spin which takes to the bottom of Lakkidi.

I call it “meandering” because of the funny rolling it offer. I haven’t found such a take on any other National Highways around this part of Kerala.

Looking down on Calicut from these hair-pin bends can be a joy....
looking up I see a fine cloud formation


Reached Adivaram drained of spirit for the rest of the journey.

Now stands the fun..
12.5 kilometers of non-stop climb,9-hairpin bends, 2300 ft. elevation +
baptism in the rain. 

am at AT LAKKADI...

hEllo! Come in, IT'S BREWING !!
mY favoirt waterhole is calling,
"hang the helmet... 
is stemming" 

"sit down"  
for my bum, wheels are good ...
so is Arabica!

My WORLD came true ..
hours deep in words,
deep in reading, 

at my
watering hole...

How can there be life without WORDS?
Life without words is a poor life.
"I'll Share anything except This COFFEE..." cup says. 
i WILL share everything for WORDS...
because "
WORDS r all i have to take YOR heart Away"


Who said, "RIDEABLE ART is my CyCLe..." ?

good BYE Solo RIDE"

Post Scripts:  

 (1) 'SURLY' isn't just a name of a bike,
it's a state of mind
(2) Just because we both ride bikes doesn't mean we're friends.