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The Pagoda ride and then coastal ride

I was longing to go to the Global Vipassana Pagoda near Gorai. Had missed a ride earlier when friends had gone there. Finally, we decided to go there on February 4, 2018.

As is typical of me, I announced it to my friends and family and of course my accountability partners just so that I had no means to chicken out. And it worked. The previous night I slept past midnight and when the alarm went off at 0444, I was two minds whether to go or skip. But I jumped out of bed rather than listen to my silly sleepy mind and left home at 0600.

Reached the meeting point at Dadar TT and met Rony. He had got my tail light so he fixed that. We finally took off at 0615 just the two of us for what was to be a superb ride. The weather was pleasant so no complaining.

We rode over all the bridges starting from Andheri as the Metro construction work has made the roads below a living hell. Turned left at Kashimira and went in towards Mira Road and Bhayandar and other spots. The road does get a little uphill but it wasn’t so bad.

We reached Gorai beach around 0930 and clicked photos to preserve the memory of my first ride to Gorai beach on the bicycle.

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After the photo session, we left from there and found a simple restaurant which served us some lovely egg bhurji with paav. It was filling and kept us going through the sunny ride.

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We started around 10 am and rode to the Pagoda. The grandeur of the Pagoda is breathtaking indeed. They have a nice, clean restaurant which serves pure vegetarian food. Since we had already finished our breakfast, we had delicious buttermilk there and boy was it delicious!! Had another round as well. We decided that the next time we ride here, we would have our breakfast at this restaurant. They have a swing opposite the Buddha statue and I have a fetish for swings so enjoyed that as well.

Left from there and rode to Manori jetty. It is a short ride of about 9 kms. On the way, we spotted this house with bougainvilleas in full bloom. It was an amazing sight.

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We then took the ferry from Manori Jetty to Marve which is a short ride across so it would hardly take 10 minutes.

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From Marve we cycled again this time to Madh jetty via The Resort and The Retreat hotels as also Aksa Beach. This was another 9 kms but it was fun. You suddenly felt the traffic of the city though not as much as the normal Mumbai traffic.

We took a short trip on the ferry across the waters to reach Versova. Honestly, it was shouting distance so to say as the ferry took us to the other side in less than 5 minutes. It was tough manoeuvring the bicycle through the sand. No, I wasn’t even riding but just dragging it in itself was tough. Don’t expect any pristine beach or such as we landed on to the fishing village and it WAS DIRTY. What followed was an ordeal as the road leading out was extremely narrow and two trucks came face to face. Even a cyclist couldn’t get through. Finally, they managed to move from there and so we could move. We hit Yari Road and we spotted a Subway so had a filling meal there.

We took off from there and then continued the journey back home trying to avoid traffic as much as possible. We took the road via Juhu beach just so that we could be near the coast as much as possible. After all, we wanted to do the coastal ride.

Took the usual route thereafter and we returned home. There was less than usual traffic honestly. Maybe it was a Sunday so people were enjoying their siesta. I made it home at 3.26 pm having done 94.7 kms. All in all, it was an exhilarating ride and the view of the Pagoda was breathtaking.

A big thank you to Rony who always motivates me to complete the ride (especially during the uphill climbs). Without him, I would be the king of DNFs. (Did not finish). The two of us will definitely be riding there once again and maybe after reading this, we will have more cyclists joining us.

Here is the map of my ride from Strava.

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My P3 at Toastmasters finally – The Relationship Cycle

MyHercules ACT 110 Project 3 Speech was kind of jinxed as it took me quite some time to write down and then when I was due to give it, I had to call it off as had to travel outside town. Finally on September 5, 2014, I gave it as a Test Speaker at a corporate club, Recall. Thanks to all who made this possible. I finally got the monkey off my back. Here is the transcript of my speech.

The Relationship Cycle

In 1976, a 9-year-old boy accompanied by his father was out to buy his first bicycle! There it stood in the corner, a BSA resplendent in maroon beckoning him as he was all set to spread his wings and fly. His eyes gleamed as he was only too eager to escape from the clutches of his sister’s hand-me-down bicycle. That child is slightly overgrown now as you can see but his love for the bicycle remains unchanged.

Contest Chair, fellow toastmasters and guests, join me on my two-wheeled excursions.

I continued to cycle in and around the building. 2 years down, started cycling to school with Mom’s stern warnings about the traffic. The short distances gradually increased but the maximum I rode was 6 kms away to Siddhivinayak temple. For 7 years, this bicycle remained an inseparable part of mine till someone stole it from Dadar. I was devastated as I cried my way to the Police Station. Alas it was never found. At the end of the academic year, I begged my parents for a new bicycle and bought the same maroon BSA. This cycle was with me till the second year of Engineering when 2 more wheels got added and I began driving in 1986.

Driving a car is indeed different from riding a bicycle. I buried my love for the 2 wheels somewhere deep in my heart for 27 years. Finally on March 29, 2013, after a lot of deliberation, I bought a shining blue Hercules. Like the new-found possession in 1976, I started cycling the very next morning. Mom being Mom continued to warn me every morning. What started as an exercise, soon became fun as I rekindled an old flame. I got hooked to Mapmyride on the phone which measured the distance covered with the speed. It posted the stats to Twitter and Facebook so I could brag about it to all my connections. More importantly, it made me accountable as friends questioned if they didn’t see such posts. This added to the pressure.

Having pedalled for over a year all alone, I mustered the courage to cycle with a group. I was shy and always thought others were fast riders but this group was headed to see the flamingos in Sewree, my backyard. This was transformational. Made so many new friends and began learning. I learnt that my low-speed was because I was riding in the wrong gear for the whole year!

Social media got people to support my passion for cycling. It was now time for me, the cyclist to give back to society. On May 25, 2014, for the first time I cycled for a cause to support the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India. About 50 cyclists from across Mumbai rode in maroon T-shirts. Some of the patients travelled in vehicles and one of them was so enthusiastic that he let his young son pedal with us all the way to Haji Ali and back. It culminated with two senior neurologists explaining to us about the disorder. I decided then I would organise a ride on World Parkinson’s day in April 2015 to highlight the cause of my Dad and others suffering from Parkinson’s.

Now that I have told you about my cycling journeys, let me also tell you about my first love, food! I always relished the local breakfast be it the fresh karela juice at Yeoor Hills, the delectable Mushroom and cheese Omelette at Mondegar or the freshly baked Mawa cakes with Brun paav at the century old B Merwans, Grant Road. Along with food, I also discovered the grandeur of Colaba’s Afghan Church, the greenery of Aarey Milk Colony and the steep hills of Yeoor in Thane to cite some spots.

In conclusion, don’t let your childhood passions be buried somewhere in the corners of your mind. Get out and take the first step – Rent a cycle from the neighbourhood cycle shop. Cycling is the new Golf for networking. Join a group if you can but remember you are not participating in a race but just for fun. Don’t forget to invest in a proper helmet to protect your head and a pair of decent gloves to avoid blisters. Pedal for a cause and I am sure you will be pedalling for life.

The video recording of my speech is here. Sorry but taken on the phone.

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Ride to Afghan Church, Colaba

Afghan Church

This morning we rode to Afghan Church at Navy Nagar in Colaba with Bandra Cycling Club. Since they were leaving at 0545 we thought we will join them at Shivaji Park so we (Rony, Nitin and me) left at 0600 from Dadar TT. The group was slightly behind schedule so we waited and then joined the party. Rode to the first halt which was at Haji Ali. Waited there and then we took off again after a pause (essentially to have some water). I huffed and puffed up my way up Peddar Road and it wasn’t so simple but made it. Next stop was just before Air India Building where we paused and then took off straight for Afghan Church. After the usual group photos, a few of us went inside the Church. Took some pictures which are available here. I didn’t know much about the history of the church but did read on an inscription “This church was built-in memory of the officers and private soldiers, too many to be recorded who fell mindful of their duty, by sickness or by sword on the campaign of Scinde (Sindh) and Afghanistan, A.D. 1838-43.” (Courtesy this Wikipedia article). The impact once you step in was phenomenal. We make it a point to visit churches in Europe but here we are not knowing even what lies in our own backyard! The stained glass panel was simply mind-blowing. The pictures I took quickly were those of what struck me as soon as I entered. After we stepped out, we disbanded as a group of 40 odd and the three of us went our own way. Went to Cafe Mondegar near Regal Cinema for some delicious white omelet with toast that I devoured while others had their own choice of eggs. As we stepped out, we saw a group of Triumph motorcycles parked outside and the riders all of them were enjoying inside Cafe Mondegar. Took some pictures and then we decided to head back home. The sun was scorching at 9 am but then once we were under the Eastern Freeway, we were very happy as the shadow let us ride in peace. Thoroughly enjoyed the 40 kilometres or so we rode. Beginning to learn new things and discovering new places to see as well as eat:-)

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Cycling Tips

Thanks to Chetan Shah for collating this information. Will do a world of good to a lot of newbies

To get started, I would recommend that you buy a cycle & basic accessories. For most beginner riders in the city, I would recommend a HYBRID bike. The other 2 types of cycles available are ROAD bikes & MOUNTAIN bikes. A good Hybrid bike should cost anywhere from 12-30k depending on brand & features.

With the bike, You should definitely buy the accessories below :

  • Water bottle holder & bottle
  • Helmet
  • Tail lights (red)
  • Front lights (white)
  • Cycling Gloves
  • Air pump

Also, I recommend that you go thru the videos given below to get a basic understanding of bike seat height, gears etc. there are hundreds of similar videos on youtube.

Gear Shifting basics – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4ok96KDfpE

Fixing Saddle height – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE3XyTXUIxU

Basic Bike fit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrZBjOloChg

How to maintain your road bike – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijJWdhw1c6s

Compiled by Chetan Shah

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The return of the bicycle

The return of the bicycle

For someone who has just taken to cycling, I thoroughly enjoyed it. So many memories flashed by. Awesome one.