The atlas cycle in front of me squeaks as the rider careens into one of the construction sites of the Aliens group. As I follow in tandem, I’m swept over by the cheers of the construction workers standing by the gates to welcome us into the rest station. Thumping music pulsates the 100+ crowd and the support they were profusely displaying for the cause was quite evidently portrayed in their charismatic faces. Each one ebulliently clapping and swaying as if they’re inviting the unbeatable winner of the Tour de France in regal honors! I’m at a loss of words to portray those emotions. These people just made my day and not to mention, that of the 150+ other riders.
August 15th ’09
Abhi is right at my door at 04:45hrs. He’d badly wanted to upgrade his Ubuntu OS and didn’t want to procrastinate it any more. We set up the downloads and leave for the Vidyanagar station at 05:10hrs. The mmts to Hitec city was at 05:19 hrs and it was almost evident that I’d miss it. He offers to drop me at the Novotel Hotel where the Freedom ride ’09 was to be started. and finally reach it at about 06:00am. The registration formalities begin as the riders dribble in along with their chic bikes [A few going upto 2 Lacs!]. We complete the registration of our team as Ram and Revathi ride in. I’d checked in my bike at Banjara hills the previous day to avoid riding the additional 30kms early in the morning. As the bike is checked out, I notice a flat in my front tier. Abhay and Deenanath pitch in with a few contacts and finally Venki comes to the rescue with his toolkit and the issue is quickly resolved. The human wave is flagged off right on time post the Flag hoist at 7:15hrs. The 62kms ride begins. My first ever long ride post the chestburn. If completed, this would be the first non-stop continuos ride without long breaks. I’m much wiser now with the Carb. loading for the whole last week and the early morning replenishment of banana shake. Besides, the plan mentioned thast replenishments would be available en-route as and when required.
We exit the city contours through the BHEL road. Amazing weather sets the pulse on and we start averaging about 20kmph. Riding through the service lanes on the roads ablely guided by the ever cheerful volunteers at vital junctions, we cross ICRISAT and a few kilometers ahead turn left to head towards Shankarapalli through Banur. Mobile replenishment stations and equally spaced out rest stations make riding an absolute cake walk! We take a three minute break at ICFAI Business School at about 40kms and get back to jackhammering the pedals.
A few kms before we hit the Mumbai road, we’re invited by resplendent green farms on both sides of the road. Nature starts tantalizing us with a light drizzle and swift gusts of wind. As I glide through the roads completely mesmerised by the smell of the soil and the pastoral surroundings, flashes of reports from the newspapers wade by. Its the mid of August and monsoon has not as yet set in most parts of the country. Several states have been almost declared drought hit. Latest IMD forecasts do not seem to be positive either. Agricultural situation seems to be quite precarious. Power cuts would soon be the next tarot cards with the Government. The Central bank would be chipping in soon to check on the inflation. Govenrnment seems to be gearing up its water reserve measures. All this amidst a supposedly mid-Monsoon phase. This summer seems to be one dicey season. Where are we headed to?
63 years of independence. What independence are we celebrating when the future itself does not seem to be rosy? Every second person on the road today has his own vehicle. Every chap who graduates from the 12th grade dreams of having a bike of his own. Every other person who enters the corporate mainstream signs in papers for the latest brand car. Public transport is rarely used by the so called elite class. Travelling in metro rails and state government buses is considered to be portraying a low status in the society. Most evident reasoning given – ‘Waste of time, Dude’, ‘Insufficient buses!’, ‘Lack of connectivity’. ‘Pollution’. People get a life. It’s all about setting your priorities right. Your work will not be hampered if you reach couple of minutes late! If time is the issue – Start early. Wake up early. Bad traffic ? – Mate, the traffic is because YOU are creating it. You’re just adding on to the stack of multitude issues!
A set of kids ebulliently waving flags by the road get my thoughts back. We soon hit the Mumbai road and head towards the Kothaguda Junction. Five more minutes and we’ve given a royal entry into the Novotel hotel. 11:05hrs. Other riders soon start swarming in and we head to one of the conference rooms. Couple of interesting events by kids from a dance school help sink in the post ride pains. A touching oration of the Vandemataram song by a Akshaya Akruthi special kid and a sumptuous lunch brings the first edition of the Freedom ride ’09 to an end.
As I request the organisers to deliver my bike at Banjara hills and walk out of the gates of the Novotel hotel, I sink back in thoughts on how much passion for Biking changes the way we think. Earlier this year i’d been for the Enduro3 race and to say they’ve been orgainising the event for the past eight or so years is a shame on their part. This debut ride organised by these folks passionate about biking was one of the best ever organised events I’ve been to! Right from the initiation to the end of the event every aspect – Timely availability of replenishments, Spacing out of volunteers, Medical support, SAG wagons, Rest stations, Mobile support etc was taken under consideration. To say they’ve set a benchmark in organising events would be an insult! Kudos to the amazing team of volunteers and Organisers. Eagerly looking forward to the Tour de Republic ride!
Registered Riders: 179
Cause: Proceeds from this event would be routed to underpreviledged children to fund their education
Organised by: Atlanta Foundation
Further details: Freedom ride ’09 Website