When in Doubt, Pedal it Out!
“Why are you putting yourself in such trouble then?”
When I reached Gujjar Khan after covering 258 kilometers in a day, I asked myself the same question. I don’t know the answer. I have never known the answer. Why do I do this? My body was hurting like a wound, legs feeling as if tons of weight was carried on them and my back felt as stiff as it had been in an operation theatre for days. My mind was blurred with questions, each one more striking than the next. I was searching for an answer to this why!
Lahore, May 4th, 2018 ‒ it was 12 in the midnight and I hadn’t had the slightest idea that right after 2 hours I’d be cycling to Islamabad. From deciding to leaving, it took me just two hours to pack my bags‒ Probably the fastest planned tour of my life.
I could see the rising and never-ending top edge of asphalt paved road melting into the grey horizon in the far distance.
By the noon, I had made it to Lala Musa, a place famous for Mian Jee Restaurant where I had my lunch. It had been 10 hours without any major break. I started looking for suitable place to relax for a while. Soon I saw a serene sight of a Charpae placed beneath a shady Banyan tree, the branches of which were approaching the ground as they were offering help to climb up the stairs of enlightenment. It was so peaceful that I had no other option but to stay there for some time. After taking rest for three hours, I started pedalling again. It was 4 in the evening. I never liked evenings. For me, the evenings seem too dull and boring. Sun setting, people retrieving their steps feeling like robots, the stars hiding somewhere behind the haze of black cloud of day’s dust and smoke. Considering the route ahead, it was going to be a challenging evening. I could see the rising and never-ending top edge of asphalt paved road melting into the grey horizon in the far distance.
But the real challenge is when the going gets tougher and circumstances are not favorable. You ask yourself a lot of questions and one being most often than the others: Why the hell am I doing this?
The road was sloppy. Trucks were sweating; their engines growling and leaving a trail of black smoky cloud in a protest as they climbed uphill. Even after transferring all the power to my legs, I was only able to drag my bike with a snail speed of 5 km/hr. Have you ever made a plan where you don’t know what’s coming ahead? You just pack your bag for an unknown journey. It is sweet as long as the fun part weighs more. But the real challenge is when the going gets tougher and circumstances are not
I reached Sohawa and was informed that there’s no public hotel to stay. I had no energy to pedal anymore. It had already been a long day. “It takes 7 minutes to reach Gujjar Khan on Motor Bike, you’ll reach there in a maximum of 20 minutes”, a shopkeeper motivated me. That’s the thing about Pakistanis, they will try to help you, even if they have to lie a bit. I bought a couple of painkillers and ORS drinks from a medical store before starting my last session of the day. What had to take 20 minutes, took me more than an hour to get there. Gujjar khan was my place of stay for the night.
As the wind softly kisses your face, your heartbeat synchronizes with the song of nature and you subtly fall in love.
Have you ever biked? Grip the handlebar, push the pedals and let it unveil the beauty of travelling. Sweat up the hills and coast down the slopes. It explains the philosophy of life, keep riding or you’ll fall. Keep your eyes on the destination, not on the road. As the wind softly kisses your face, your heartbeat synchronizes with the song of nature and you subtly fall in love.
It was 8 in the morning. As I entered Islamabad – the city of someone very close to my heart, gentle drops of rain welcomed me. Cycling in rain was itself an adventure. A blow of cool air whipped my hair back and I decreased my speed to enjoy the weather. People were taking shelter under bridges. I put my mobile phone, the only valuable item with me, in a plastic bag tied to my bike for the same purpose and continued moving my legs up and down.
She asked the very question I was looking the answer for!
Although it was Saturday, the hustle and bustle was just as on any other day of the week. Google map was showing my destination to be 9.2 kilometres away when I called my mom. Like the mother of anyone else in this world, my mom thinks of me as a little boy who is still afraid of darkness, who cannot go on main roads because he is scared that truck drivers might kidnap him. As I told her that I have just reached Islamabad on my bicycle, there was a brief silence before she expressed her anger ‒ the sweet, caring anger. She asked the very question I was looking the answer for; “Beta, why do you do this?” and I think I have now found the answer: “For the pleasure that comes with pushing your body to the breaking point and conquering the unknown.”