First 472 Kilometres are Always Hard!

by Mar 28, 2018Adventure, Bikepacking31 comments

Sweaty palms, drained legs, exhausted breath and 300 kilometres on the odometer. It was day two of my first cycling adventure. “I am an idiot”, I thought as I pushed the pedals on an ever-increasing slope of a kilometre-long bridge near Khanewal.

Dec 23, 2017 – a beautiful, sunny day in Lahore. The trees were veiled in the lightest of mists, with mercury declaring 230C as I started my cycling journey from Lahore to Bahawalpur – my hometown. I had all necessary gear tied to my bike. Two of my friends were supposed to accompany me, but they couldn’t join at last-minute notice. I love my friends. All of them are super non-cooperative creatures. I am sure everyone has the same breed. Since I had already considered this situation, my motivation didn’t shake. I got on the bike with the second learning of my trip:

Talk about planned adventures and your friends will ditch you, ALWAYS!

A long-haired young boy wearing a helmet cycling on an unusual bike and carrying different backpacks was not a mundane sight for my fellow countrymen. It felt a bit awkward initially, so I took off the helmet and continued pedalling.

I had first long break at Pattoki for lunch, where I left my water bottle, which to my surprise, was delivered to me by two guys working on that restaurant. This gesture increased my faith in small acts of kindness by ten-fold. As soon as I crossed Pattoki, I witnessed an accident. A chilling thought occurred to me, “what if I get in an accident serious enough to make me dead?” The answer came in as a third learning of the tour:

Some things (in fact all things) are out of one’s control. We can’t do anything about them. Like it or not, there’s a master plan and an extraordinary planner!

By the evening, I had made it to Okara, covering 120 km. Finding a place to spend the night was a cumbersome task. To cut a long story short, after a struggle of two hours and pedalling for 10 extra kilometres, I was able to find a reasonable place to stay. As I laid down on the bed, an overwhelming sense of accomplishment embraced me. Considering the circumstances before the start of my trip I felt like I have achieved a milestone. A week earlier, I posted the details of my plan on a social media site. Everything was great, and my parents were kind of okay until one of my relatives saw my post and tried his best to describe all the negative things that may happen with me during the journey, to my mom. He succeeded, and my Mom asked me not to embark on this journey. I assured her not to be worried and lied (yes, I had no option) to her that I won’t be doing this nonsense. The learnings had begun even before the start of the trip and first of the lessons was:

Keep your adventure secret from your relatives. Whenever you’re planning something that seems crazy or something that hasn’t been done in the family, don’t disclose it. Casually discuss it with parents and siblings and see their response. If they are positive about it, go ahead, otherwise, go ahead without mentioning it to them.

The second day started early. As a morning workout, I pedalled for about 40 kilometres before having breakfast. It was after lunch when I started seeing the effect of continuous misuse of my calves. The road stretched forever through countless green fields as I continued pushing my bike. I had planned to make it till Khanewal before sunset. The 4th learning of the tour was not surprising as I discovered that:

Planning is a waste of time. An ill-executed tour is better than the best-planned tour that never happened. Don’t waste time and energy on planning everything in detail. Just get the roadmap, highlight few targets to achieve by the end of the day and hit the road. You will see that as soon as you start, things will begin to fall in place. If something unexpected comes along, enjoy it. Let the excitement lead you.

Sweaty palms, drained legs, exhausted breath and 300 kilometres on the odometer. It was 6 in the evening of the second day of my journey. “I am an idiot”, I thought as I pushed the pedal on an ever-increasing slope of a kilometre-long bridge near Khanewal. The 5th learning was, in fact, a try to lift my dwindling motivation. As the sun, that started its journey with me, begin to settle into a quiet, peaceful night, I talked to myself:

If you’re really up for an adventure, be ready to have some tough time. Anything may happen. The point is, if you want something to be exciting and bold, it is not going to be easy at all. Adventure is not meant to be all cool and fun. There definitely are patches when it’s not pleasurable anymore and one has to push to survive.

It was a crisp Monday morning, the sky was painted in blue with some lost grey clouds across the horizon, gathered either to celebrate my journey or to mourn my diminishing motivation—it was too early to say. People were still in their beds enjoying the last intense quarter of their sleep when I started my third and last day. My legs pedalled like a machine, and soon I was touching 40km/hr.
“Welcome to Bahawalpur” was not just a simple road sign for me. It reminded me the caress of my mother’s finger as she combs them through my hair (and complains about their ever-growing length), the hug of my father and the sweet smile of my sister. The excitement to make it home, made me merge three sessions into one, 5 hours and 22 minutes long session with odometer announcing 472. I didn’t stop for lunch or any tea break. My legs were hurting but it wasn’t pain, it wasn’t discomforting either, it was a feeling of nothingness. I kissed ecstasy, the first time in my life, and it was — sweet. I felt like I could pedal forever.

31 Comments

  1. Sohail Ahmad

    Very impressive. In start mujyy lagaa thaa k yaar yee pagal pan haa matlab is age mein bhii cycle payy safar karnaa aur woo bhii itnaa lambaa wasn’t a good idea. But jis aim k sath tum chalyy hoo aur har mushkil koo Face kartyyy howyy Journey complete ki salute to u Umair Ali.. I am really proud of u my Friend.. Keep doing such stupid stuff.. And keep insipiring Us. 😘

    Reply
  2. Moeen Ahmed

    mujhy toh kuch bolna bhi nahi ata….inspired….!

    Reply
  3. Muhammad Asjad

    Ooooo, Man love it means just love this.
    As a cyclist I might know the risks you took and the way you make it possible is just more than bhtreen.

    It’s just a craziness with such heavy backpacks and thing you made last day without any break for me it’s all just amazing and I found your family your hometown as a motivational aspects for you which helps you to make it possible.

    And about friends I just want to say it’s more fun when you are on your way all alone (my thoughts).

    For future tours I would love to share few contacts, so you can have more guideline and insights one is of Mr Umer who used to visit Karachi and khunjrab pass on his wheels.
    The other one is my inspiration Mr Abdu Rehman Palwa who is on the road from last Oct 2017 to break the record by moving around the Pakistan on wheela and he’s just going to end his tour on 28th of April in Lahore, you can found his activities on FB.

    Writting is behtreen you can also add your short-trimmed video on YouTube if you made that.

    at the end wishing you best luck for future road-goals.

    Reply
    • Umair

      Thank you Asjad for flaring up my motivation. Yes, I added Abdur Rehman. He has no doubt done a remarkable job. and can you please share the contact details Mr. Umer? I am planning a tour to Northern areas. Need some information and suggestions.

      Reply
  4. Matee ue Rahman

    All I can say that I m feeling proud that I m one of your friends.

    Reply
    • Umair

      It’s actually the other way around. I am lucky to have you as my friend 🙂

      Reply
  5. Sehar

    Aahh..✌
    This adventure is something unreal for the some ordinary people .. but you ,my friend ! You did it beautifully.This is amazing even to imagine a cyclist unaware of his hurdles and yet he is moving.
    Felt so good to read every word.
    Good luck for the next stupid thing you are gonna do and make it great😄
    The best part is you’ve shared the lessons you’ve learned.
    Thankyou for this 🙂
    Bohat c dua’ayen .

    Reply
    • Umair

      Hahaha! Thank you so much for your amazing words, Sehar. Yes, many stupid things are planned. it’s the question of when 🙂
      Stay Blessed!

      Reply
  6. Abeer Khan

    Wow! Very inspiring and interesting. What an adventure….and the way you described it was really appreciatible and your photography is awesome.

    Reply
    • Umair

      Support & Appreciation is all an amateur writer needs. Thank you for that, Abeer!

      Reply
  7. M.Ali Raza

    Wonderful, quiet an adventure 😍

    Reply
  8. Wajeeha Iglesias

    Okay…wow!! Quite motivating…reading this makes me wanna go on an adventure

    Reply
    • Umair

      What are you waiting for then!

      Reply
  9. Avril stant

    You have done a great job
    Very good , this is talent which make PAKISTAN proud . Missing PAKISTAN 💚

    Reply
    • Umair

      Seeing your comment is actually quite motivating. Thank you, Avril. How did you land on this page?

      Reply
      • Avril Stunt

        Haram is my good friend . She told me about you and then your adventures .

        Reply
  10. Haram Safdar

    Proud of you my bahi . Hatsoff to you . Really like it 😊😊and do whatever you want i’m always with you and i will always support you 💞

    Reply
    • Umair

      Thank you, my sweet little sister 🙂 Stay blessed!

      Reply
  11. Laiba naeem

    Very nice article bro ……quite adventerous and unique …stay blessed😇

    Reply
  12. Yumna Fatima

    I loved all of it 🙂

    Stay blessed Ali ^_^

    Reply
  13. Tahseen

    Waoo Man. Love it.
    I really appreciate your passion for adventures. I told you, you not only have artistic looks but also a artistic heart. What I admire more is your audacity.

    Lets make 1 plan again. I’m dying to do an adventure these days.

    Reply
    • Umair

      Thank you Tehseen for beautiful words. Yes, I am planning something, will let you know soon.

      Reply
  14. Zeeshan

    its good to see you here , keep it up my boy

    Reply
  15. Muhammad Ali Hassan

    Always in love with you.
    Dear Friend…

    Reply
    • Umair

      Why am I surprized, Ali? 😛

      Reply
  16. JayWaZir

    TwoFriends 😂
    Love Your Passion buddy…keep it up …waiting for next blast❤️

    Reply
    • Umair

      So, apparently, you are still alive after ditching me. Lucky you!

      Reply
  17. Safeer Alvi

    Congratulations Umair on the first of many adventures (hopefully). Being one of those ditching friends, it is a regret that I fully plan to compensate for in future inshaAllah, though I wouldn’t blame you for not believing that.
    Now, about this piece of writing, I really liked the flow and incorporation of small Forty-rules-of-love-isque lessons. I’m hoping to see more of the tales from the road. My favorite thing about this article was actually the picture of sunset, breathtaking towards the end. It was breathtaking. Keep hitting the road bro, peace!

    Reply
    • Umair

      Safeer, you have motivated me a lot throughout the trip and I know you had the genuine reason. I am sure we’ll have some adventure together inshaa Allah 🙂 and thank you for appreciating my writing. I hope it will improve with time. Love!

      Reply
  18. Shruti

    It’s awesome! Fell in love with your words 😘😘

    Reply
  19. Nayab

    This is so amazingly written. Finding something you are passionate about is truly something to live for and maybe to die for. Looking forward to read more.

    Wish you good luck! 🙂

    Reply

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