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Archive for the ‘Biking’ Category

Up and down the Mountain


An advantage of living in the blue ridge mountains: the opportunity to mountain bike. I’ve always been a fan of cycling, the feeling of being free and the freedom of motion both exhilarate me to quite an extent, an escape of sorts even. I consider myself a pro at ‘aimless’ biking, which is a term I use to define biking with the sole purpose of getting lost. All other kinds of biking fall under ‘commute’, which isn’t half as fun, unless you manage to get lost on your way to work of course.

 The wheels naturally turn towards lesser crowded roads, out of the city and to more calmer surroundings. The suburbs and regions outside in Bangalore were almost ideal for cycling around. Enough and more lakes, some rail tracks, small roads with trees lined on both sides and the occasional expanse of an army land.. vast and totally cut-off from the city were all appreciated and well trodden (riden?) when I lived there. Blacksburg however, is a different tune altogether. Biking on the roads is no fun because of the traffic (which is at a much faster pace than in India) and there isn’t as much freedom. Here I resort to my Indian-ness; there are much stricter rules and not as many casual roads per se, unless you’re on a biking trail.  No complaints though, there are enough and more biking trails that branch off inconspicuously from these busy roads and lead you to open farms, barns, fallow meadows and over a fair amount of creeks. The onset of summer is awaited for this one reason, so that I can get on that bike and take off to some pleasant meadow where Thoreau may have watched the sunset from.

The mountains that surround these meadows and our town of Blacksburg, however had been off reach until very recently when an enthusiastic friend of mine invited me to go mountain biking with him. What was a ‘recovery ride’ of 6 miles for him nearly killed me. But it was an experience unlike any! I am forced to add another kind of biking to my list now.. ‘survival’ biking. There is only one way to go down a steep slope that turns at the end and has large rocks strewn around. You just go. There isn’t enough time to turn handles and stop and chose a path, you have to let your speed just take you down and pretty much pray you don’t crash into one of the tall trees. If I had known how risky the road was, I never would’ve gone. But having done it once now, I can’t wait to get back there again. Dense trees, denser shrubs, an occasional stream to ride over, some startled deer and the smattering of forest sounds as you whizz past on your two wheels. Another mention I have to make is of fellow mountain bikers. I have not known more friendly people. It’s as though the mere presence of you on a bike in a forest brands you as one of them, that they smile and let you ride past or politely inquire of your fortitude or even urge you on to clear that uphill slope. Maybe they smile knowing what they do, the mountains have claimed one more :D.

If you ever need to jolt your senses and face some of the more basic facets of life (a.k.a staying alive) try mountain biking. If you want to lose yourself among shrubs, tree canopies and dry streams, try mountain biking. You are warned reasonably however, it ain’t easy. The scratches on the knee notwithstanding, I did end up sleeping for 14 hours straight the minute I got home. I am still alive to recount the experience though. 

So, whatever your reasons, riding on a mountain once must definitely be on your list.

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The Adventures of Cycling


More like the romance of cycling. I doubt there is any other exercise that frees the mind as much as cycling outdoors does. The inspiration for this piece started as I rented out a bike, to ride across campus and give my final exams. Exam done, I figure why not wander around a bit before heading back to the dorm and preparing for another day, another exam. Thats just half the reason. I’ve been eyeing the bikes (american for cycles :P) ever since I knew they could be rented out. Its just that the weather’s so darn cold. If its not cold, its wet. If it is warm and dry, I’m probably out of town. Anyway, the spark of spontaneity paid off and I was cycling aimlessly (which in my opinion,  is the only way one must cycle).

I’ve never explored the scape beyond the college and my extent of exploration was only as far as where the buses could go. It was pure joy, in having no boundaries and being free to go wherever it pleased. The scenery was mostly barns and fields with the regular assortment of cows, horses and cosy lil cottages.  The unsteadiness of riding a bike after so long and the cold wind were hardly discernable once I was out of sight of civilization. I must have biked a long way, cause even the wayside cows seemed to notice as I biked along. Of course, the ride was not all hunky-dory. I was out of breath after about 20 secs of cycling and I constantly found myself on the wrong side of the road, trying to get back to the right side, and then eventually losing judgement on which confounded side of the road ppl ride here. I was almost sure that I might have reached the next county, when surprisingly a familiar student apartment complex loomed ahead. Turns out I hadn’t come that far after all.

I shall leave the county for my next adventure on the bike. And eventually, I shall bike all the way to the mountains :D. Ok, maybe not that far. Nevertheless, I was glad to know that the Don Quixotic tendencies I’ve inherited from my dad have not yet been buried by reason and age.

And here’s my passing suggestion: “Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it if you live.”  ~Mark Twain