Today was my first day on the Hercules Ryders newly bought. It has cost me 6500 rupees and a serious fight with my girlfriend (almost to the verge of breakup) to finally own this cycle. Made of alloy steel and blue- black in color, this 18-gear cycle from TI Cycles is one of the best buys i could get. There were other bikes of atlas and hero but as my bulletier friend manyu says, "Be a purist", i decided to stick to Hercules, a brand of cycle I always aspired to ride since my school days. Well, school days were fun with the Hero Jet as well.
So I woke up late, as usual, and dressed up fast for the office. Took my cycle out of my flat (yes, it is proudly parked in the dining hall of our 3 -bedroom flat) and took the service lift to get down from fifth floor to the ground. With a lot of anxiety and excitement I headed for my first trip on Ryders. I was ready for the traffic, the dust and the weather, but had not prepared myself for the headturns and comments. The first comment came from the guard of our colony, "Waah Sir !! kya mast cycle hai". I didn't react and kept moving on. Just outside the building was the old rickshaw-wala who takes me to office daily (not anymore, as i have a cycle of my own now) who looked at me as customer who was lost to another product. He sighed and I avoided looking into his eyes. In about five minutes, I hit the main road, and damn scared I was. After a gap of at least three years, I was riding and that too in the heavily busy Gurgaon roads. It took me more than five minutes to cross the highway to get to the correct side of the road. I could feel my heartbeat as cars passed by my front and by my back. Nevertheless, I had crossed the road and now it was a straight journey.
After about one and a half km, a right turn comes and am on the long stretch of road that connects to the NH 8, but before that stops at our office. I tried my hands at the gears too, doing it by complete hit and trial and in my mind revising all the mechanical engg fundas of gear ratios that IIT had tried to teach me. Only if I had paid attention. Anyhow, I was able to find a combination out of the 18 available, which made me comfortable. I was feeling hot by now and was sweating too. I took off the scarf first, and in next five minutes, my jacket was also unzipped. I reached the office in about 20-25 minutes and got a stare from the guard here too. It was really less embarassing for a manager to come in cycle rickshaw than a cycle. He grinned when I asked where should I park it? He guided me to the basement parking.
I was amused to see that I wasn't the only one who parked a cycle in the office. There were at least 20 others cycles, and most of them were the age-old Hero Jet and Atlas goldline super types. I locked my cycle and moved up the lift to my floor. I felt tired, sweating, a liitle scared but highly jubilant. The excitement today could easily match the excitement I had when I first rode the cycle way back in 1996, some twleve years ago. I had finally done what I felt like.
In the office, I kept telling everyone that I had come by a cycle, and there was a curious excitement. While most thought that it was a fitness move to decrease the girth of my tummy, some knew that i am just being miser enough to buy a car or a motorbike. Well, office was usual and I was more excited about coming back.
As I came out of the basement parking, I tried riding up the incline but failed. I walked. I will definitely figure out some gear combination to ride up this incline without effort, after all that is what an MTB is suppsoed to do. As I came out of the office gate, the guard grinned again and the rickshaw-walas, for whom I was a regular source of income sighed in both surprise and amusement. Someone even shouted "Sahi hai Sir." Well, I was embarassed and I kept moving on. This time I didn't have the courage to take the main road. I started taking the service lane and kept taking left turns to get to my flat. After a twenty minute ride full of both excitement and fear, I was home. My heartbeat is still above normal and I am sweating, in what is still a cold evening. I feel stupid to be doing it, but I feel great to be stupid after so long.
Welcome aboard Hercules Ryders. We have a long saga to live together.