Monday, August 7, 2017

Cycling through the buzz

"Sugar is a harmful industrial grade drug", a friend WhatsApped me yesterday.

I know, and I'm addicted to it.

And when I severely overdose, as I did for Rakhi yesterday, then my head buzzes me awake after the first wave of sleep. At 3 a.m., I stared at the clock, wondering what to do with the rest of the night.

At 4, I crawled back into bed and slept fitfully until my son, Kedar, poked his head into our bedroom at 5:30. He already had his cycling shorts on, so I decided to grit my teeth, and ride through the buzz.

Tentatively at first, and when we saw Supratim running up the road from Andrews Ganj, I was still only clocking 27 km per hour. We swung right under the South Ex flyover, negotiated the merging traffic of school vans and DTC buses, rounded the short section of the Ring Road, and then gathered speed as we rode past Defence Colony. By the time we passed the Lajpat Nagar metro station, the endorphins were kicking in, the air, though heavy with damp, was still cool, and I revved up the pace to gather momentum for the long ramp of the flyover.

Sunday's long slow ride must have been good for my legs, because the climb did nothing to slow me down, and even as I crested the flyover, I was still clocking 33 km. an hour. I crouched to make the most of gravity, and hit 40 before I started pedaling. We were on a roll, and roared up the Oberoi flyover with the same gusto, past Delhi Public School, and under the massive neem trees of Mathura Road. We slowed a bit as we crossed the Zoo, then veered left past the High Court, meeting traffic again on the impeccable tarmac of India Gate's C hexagon.

By now, I needed a drink, and there's something compelling about the Amar Jawan Jyoti, so we turned in to stop by India Gate. A young cyclist stopped by us, in silent communion. Kedar's tires needed a little more air, and his pump was proving fiddly, so our new companion proffered his. We chatted for a bit, then rode out to the traffic together. The rehydration salts in my bottle felt good in my system, and the hexagon is free of traffic lights, making for a great sprint round it: 33, 34, 36, 37. It's great to be alive, and kicking those pedals around.

Even at 7, not a soul stirred along the road fronting the villas of Golf Links. Billionaires need to sleep in late. We cruised past the Lodi Road crematorium; in a last burst of enthusiasm, I decided to test my legs again, and pumped up the Def Colony flyover. I held 33 till a hundred yards short of the top. Then I got the gearing wrong, dropped tempo, and was a little dismayed to see my speed drop to 29. Ah well..we rode back home at a easy canter.

The pink papers were waiting on the dining table, car prices have been kicked back up, as the GST council adds a post-script cess. I call for a chai. The buzz is gone, replaced by the mild excitement of an unfolding day.

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