Early last year, I was thinking about picking up some way to exercise regularly. My last hiking trip to Everest Base Camp was too far in the past and I wanted to set an exciting goal.
I decided to pick up cycling. I was an avid cycler in school days going to and fro to the school on it. On the weekends, I would take the road bike on the hills of the Borivali National Park in Mumbai. The bike really wasn’t meant for the hills and I had plenty of falls to show for it. I also took a classic Series 1 Lambretta scooter up the hills (unbenownest to my dad) but that is a story for another time.
To keep things interesting, I borrowed a colleagues idea of mapping his runs on a map to gamify the process of riding the same terrain. He rode the entire stretch of the US as his goal. (Thanks for the inspiration Kohsuke!)
I picked something modest…
With the quarantine, I really miss my trips to Europe and was thinking wistfully about Venice. A few years ago, me and my wife did a train ride from Switzerland to Venice and changed trains in Milan. Running through Milan station for changing the train has remained in my mind. Especially, since the hectic run contrasted the comfort of the Italian trains.
I decided to pick Milan to Venice as my easy intro ride. It is just 335kms, how hard could it it be?
Turns out plenty, it took me about 9 months to get there. If I was in Italy, spending 9 months on this journey would be wonderful but as an athlete the progress is lame 37kms/month :-D. Let’s pretend I had plenty of Vino and pasta along the way.
Choosing the right bike…was quite the challenge
I started cycling with a ebike called Nakto 26″ on 4/20/21. Turned out that trying to push a heavy ebike without the “e” was not fun. Doing a 5KM run in my locality was hard. We have some gentle slopes around where I live.
I then graduated to a Cannondale road bike. I am just amazed that amount of differentiation that the american market offers for something as simple as bike. What bike to buy under what category? Truly a first world problem. Graduating to the gears was fun especially as someone who rode a gearless bike – pure joy if you get the gears, misery otherwise.
Mapping the ride
I would do a bike run, come back and map it on Google maps. Use Google maps street view to see the neighborhood. Read about the location on Wikipedia.
Right at the beginning, I discovered Monza. As a recent fan on F1 – I used this excuse to go through the entire F1 series on Netflix. That added a few weeks.
Hitting simple roadblocks… took away weeks
A couple of months into the new bike, I ran into a few back to back punctures. Patching the tyres didn’t quite help as the patches would leak into the ride. I graduated to adding new tubes and ran into couple of punctures again. That took the wind out of the momentun. In hindsight, procrastinating fixing the tires took the best months away of the year from riding.
I didn’t quite get on the bike in the winter.
Also, somewhere in June, I engaged a personal trainer and have been working out fairly diligently. Cycling isn’t quite the option on the days I work out. I have homework from my trainer on other days making it hard to get on a bike other days.
I discovered that my breathing has been shallow all my life and that has serious ramifications generating output on the bike or endurance sport – no wonder I don’t enjoy running. I now use HR training on the bike to build endurance and right breathing pattern.
That said, I have been plugging around – persistence is something that I am good at. Persistence does pay.
This week I finally reached Venice.
To sum up, I feel like the tortoise in the “tortoise and hare” story. Slow and steady…got the tortoise to Vencie. Here are some pictures from my last trip there to entertain you.