What is Difficult – not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure;
Climbing Mt. Everest; Running a full Marathon; Finishing Tour De France; Swimming through English Channel or Participating in Ironman Triathlon is Difficult?
Well, do you think it depends on the person, or should I say age, time, and opportunity. The answer is none. All you need is a goal, a challenge, and a positive attitude.
I could not help raising this topic, because I just went through a similar experience and thought would share it with the wider audience.
It goes back not long ago in October 2009, when I was looking for a road bike for a cycling event in Bangalore called Cyclothon for participating in 25kms race. Since, the road bikes are very expensive and I had not cycled since 1990, did not wanted to invest in an expensive bike.
Though, I could not participate in that event, but while searching for the road bike if someone could lend me one, a friend of mine suggested why don’t I participate in Tour of Nilgiris (TFN) scheduled in Dec’09 (www.tourofnilgiris.com). Tour of Nilgiris is India’s biggest cycling tour, riding for 8 days with one day of rest for more than 750 kms, climbing more than 7000 Metres and going through 3 states of India. It sounded really challenging and tough, but I made up mind that I will give my best shot if I get selected, and work really hard towards it – that’s when I picked up my dream of participating in TFN09 and applied for it.
To begin with, there were lot of questions which crossed my mind –
- Will I get selected for TFN, because there were only 70 places on the tour?
- It was almost 20 years since I had biked, will I be able to ride for 7 days?
- Will it be possible to ride for more than 100+ kms every day?
- Even if I practice hard, will I be able to climb the total elevation of 7000 Metres? And the toughest of all, the Ooty climb of 2300 Metres. (Think of it Mt. Everest is 8848 Metres)
- My back was weak, will I be able to handle the continuous riding?
- I didn’t have a good bike, how much should I spend on the bike?
While I started riding with a heavy old Hercules bike lying at home to test myself out, I will confess the first time I rode, inspite of good fitness, it took the hell out of me to complete 20-25 kms. I was panting and struggling to complete that distance.
Before I realized, it would be difficult, my name got selected for TFN, and got the news in beginning of Nov’09. Then I said to myself, no looking back – now that I am selected let me pick up a good bike, strengthen my back, train well and carry the positive attitude.
I got my new bike in mid of Nov 2009, I trained like a pro every day for 4-5 weeks which involved getting up at 4.30am every day, riding for 2 hrs in the morning, and riding for 5-7 hrs on the weekend with rest on Monday. I also had to go through special diet plan and the exercises with the physio and at gym got intensive every day.
Then came the day, I was so looking forward to – 16th Dec, the beginning of TFN, there was such an amazing atmosphere at the Koramangala Stadium in Bangalore with people from all the over the country with colorful attire and all the colorful pro bikes ready to take off. There were men, women, and people from various backgrounds including some from other countries at the flag off early morning. There was a man who had come to participate from US, his bike’s cost was $10,000.
When I started the ride – I had only 2 objectives – don’t come back home without finishing it and the second one – don’t get swept (every day, we were allowed to ride between 7am to 6pm, and if you are not likely to reach the destination by 6pm, they will pick us & our bikes in the truck). It can get really embarrassing if someone is unable to complete any sector of the tour.
Our tour was scheduled as follows –
Day 1 – Bangalore – Mysore (145 km); Day 2 – Mysore – Hassan (120 km); Day 3 – Hassan – Madikeri (115 km); Day 4 – Madkeri – Irupu (80 km); Day 5 – Irupu – Rest Day; Day 6 – Irupu – Sultanbathery (140 km); Day 7 – Sultanbathery – Ooty (95 km); Day 8 – Ooty – Bandipur (60 km)
I went through lot of pain in my back, neck, muscles, butt, and hands because of non-stop riding. It made me think so many times why am I doing this? What is the fun riding in the heat? What am I trying to prove? Why should I keep going when I am in so much pain? Well, I could find only one reason behind all this – how to win mind over body?
I completed TFN not just with flying colors, but completed most of the sectors in top 10 positions, never got swept, and biggest of all – the Ooty climb which everyone looks forward to, is paranoid about finishing it and the reason for signing up TFN – I finished 6th out of 70 people at the Ooty climb. I will never be able to express my feelings and joy of climbing Ooty with 2300 Metres on Dec 22nd in approximately 6 hrs with just 1.5 hrs behind the fastest man on the tour. It was a continuous climb of 95 kms with a gradient of 4-8% which is pretty steep. Considering I started biking 2 months before the tour, trained for 4-5 weeks, I felt really blessed to have achieved this feat. This memory will last forever and keep inspiring me at every stage in life.
The ride was very interesting – watching the 70 odd people cycling for different missions and goals; some fast, some average, some slow; men and women from 21-55 years age fulfilling their dreams; passing through highways where cars, trucks and buses are zipping past you; going through cities, villages and towns; riding through good and bad roads; bikers stopping to help the riders with bike problem or fixing the puncture; people motivating each other; some villagers offering coconut water to some riders, another bullock cart person offered water melon to another rider – all this at no cost; taking pictures of each other and the fauna and flora; eating so many groundnut “chikkies” which I have never eaten in my life; drinking more “electaral” than water; kids waving at you in every town and village – making you feel like a superstar; waiting eagerly for dinner like never before; finish ride of the day, share your experience over dinner, sleep and ready to wake up again at 5am; 3 people sharing the room – deciding who’s turn to wake up first; finding the best and most peaceful sleep ever; passing through most beautiful scenery – greenery, hills, valleys, bridges, waterfalls, lakes, etc; spotting deers, elephants and other animals at Bandipur; coming home like a hero; an experience of a lifetime;
I can write many pages on just the experience of the ride of 8 days, but on this blog I just wanted to highlight the term “difficult” and relate my recent experience with it while highlighting the sense of achievement when you nurture a dream, follow it, and fulfill it and achieve something which was “difficult” according to you.
Ofcourse, riding 100 kms in a day could be difficult for some and easy for another, but I suggest we pick up some dreams which could be as simple as learning guitar, learning golf, driving a Porsche, flying a jet (it’s possible), losing extra kilos, sky diving, visiting your favorite destination, running a marathon, go on a world tour, taking your camera out of your closet & start clicking, spend time with under-privileged, visiting your relatives / elders, spend more time with family, help fulfill your kids dream, make a movie, act in a play or participate in TFN 2010. The list can be endless….
No dream is big or small, anything which you have been wanting to do, or would like to do, but you didn’t have time or you thought is difficult is what I am referring to.
TFN has been one of my most satisfying experiences. It gave me strength not to give up, push beyond my limits, and belief that you can achieve anything in life.
Fitness is definitely important, but most of our life is function of mind. Healthy body and positive mind leads to good performance in both personal and professional lives. I would say – “Live as if you will die tomorrow, dream as if you will live forever”.
Lance Armstrong said – “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on”. So think before you use the word “difficult” again.
If you have still have got any doubt, please check this video and you will certainly be inspired!
Wish you the very best!