Happiness On Two Wheels

Happiness On Two Wheels

Mr Anurag Mantri

Chief Financial Officer

People who know me are privy to my passion for sports and fitness. Being an active kid, I’ve played a lot of sports in school, especially hockey. I even used to cycle almost 15 kms back and forth from school in class 7. But just like a lot of us, most of my physical activities stopped when I entered the corporate world. Thanks to this lack of exercise, my cholesterol was at 220 at the age of 25 and the doctor warned me that at this rate, I won’t survive for more than two years. That’s when I decided to take control of my personal life. I started a life of discipline to inculcate the habit of exercising in the morning before work. In 2010, I picked up cycling again, and I haven’t given up ever since. I even learnt yoga and went to Rishikesh for an intense detox session. I can ace a headstand for 8-10 minutes.

Cycling for me began as a hobby with 1 hour practice sessions on a single-stretch road. But, it soon progressed to intense sessions with advanced cyclers from Spin Life. Within 3 months, I graduated from plains to steep roads. One day, I challenged myself to cycle on the road passing through Ghata Village in Sector 55 of Gurgaon - a steep climb with a dangerous bend, and definitely not a wise decision for cycling starters. The road is so steep that even trucks cannot pick up steam on it. As luck would have it, I lost control and fell down after completing the ride, and it took me a good 15 minutes to recuperate myself. At that moment, I swore to myself to leave cycling forever.

But by that time, cycling had turned from a hobby to a passion, and I’m glad that one failed attempt did not deter me. On 30th January 2018, I cycled from my place in Gurgaon to India Gate, around 76 kms, the longest I’ve ever cycled! Gurgaon-Faridabad Road, or ‘GFR’ as my biker clan likes to call it, which includes a steep ‘Tiger Hill’ bend, became my favourite. Cycling on this road got me to the speed of 50 km/hr because of its steep decline. I even went for Aravali off-roading. It’s a beautiful but difficult track. It’s safer in the sense that there’s no traffic, except the danger of falling off into the valley.

Why Do I Cycle?
Because I love it! Cycling introduced me to all sorts of people. Although we shared the same track, we had different purposes for cycling. Some came for health, while others came for mental wealth. Somehow I feel that these interactions play an important role in shaping my journey. You see all sorts of people on the road and there’s so much warmth and positivity in the early hours of the morning. It feels great to start off my day having the heartiest of conversations with the coconut seller on the road, or with the Sardarji in his dhabha, who sometime gives us bread, butter and tea, without even taking money! There’s beauty all around us, we just need to stop and stare to recognize it.

I slowly got into the habit of cycling alone. I never thought I would like it, but I fell in love with it. It is pure bliss when it is just me and the long road ahead. All my thoughts are streamlined into the vastness of the road. For me, being alone on the road is like meditation. If you keep thinking about the problem, it keeps getting bigger and bigger until there’s a breakdown of emotions. That’s why whenever I’m stressed; I go cycling to clear my head. It is my stress-buster.

What Have I Learnt Over The Years?

I took upon a friend’s advice to have a cup of rice before I cycle, because rice, like any carbohydrate takes 2 hours to break down and convert into energy. This works for me, because after a heavy cycling session, the carbs break down into energy when I need it the most.

A word of caution for other cycling enthusiasts is that they should be wary of cars and trucks on road, especially those that are standing still. Most accidents happen when someone from inside the car opens the door suddenly without a glance at the road.

I feel it is extremely important to push our own boundaries and to test our limits, personally and professionally. Necessity is the mother of invention and it was only at a troubling time, that I learnt how to change tyres on my own. Apart from that, morning fitness is critical, and one needs to majorly require their lifestyle changes. A sedentary lifestyle does not go hand-in-hand with the corporate set up.