Road to recovery from angioplasty: cycling has become my passion

I took a tour with my older brother’s ATV and loved it. So I asked my doctor if cycling could be a viable option for me. He checked my vital signs and gave me a boost.

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As a recovery process after the angioplasty, I was told to start almost the entire activity board from scratch. I had to walk slowly, couldn’t think of running for a while, weight training was out of the question and even driving was supposed to be minimal. The only thought that came to my mind was, “Well, how am I supposed to live like this?” “. For the first 2 months, I only managed to walk my porch and then walk my dog. There was nothing beyond that, I was allowed to do it, the short life was boring.

During this time, my wife had received vouchers from Amazon and she bought a home exercise bike. The brand and the product had no complaints. It was just a DIY product and I don’t think there was any R&D to make it. Post some local jugaad, I made it work at my convenience and got hooked on it with my latest love for cryptocurrency!

Below is what Amazon calls a training bike.

So 6 months later my itch to do something more involving kept growing, at the same time I noticed that my older brother, who stayed a few blocks away, got himself an ATV for get rid of the extra fat that it had accumulated during the lockdown. As far as I knew him, his enthusiasm was bottled with a quick expiration date! So when I checked the cycle I noticed that even the plastic wrap was intact and completely unused. I didn’t bother to explain it, so I took it for myself, had it fixed locally, adjusted it to my proportions, and took it for a spin. I loved it, so I asked the guy at Cardio if this could be a viable option for aimless strolling. A good 6 months had passed and as he had checked my vital signs, gave it a try.

My brother’s mountain bike, a solid bike.

Once I had covered enough miles to gain the confidence and strength required to ATV locally and occasionally on the hills, I thought about going somewhere and for that I needed some guidance. Cyclists were not lacking to my knowledge. Two of my elders had converted road cycling from a hobby to a passion. I could still go see them, but that would be asking a heart surgeon for the cure for the viral cold. A few years ago, I had run into a forestry officer who had started coaching road cycling on weekends. So I contacted him. Based on our fairly long discussion, we bottled for:

  • I needed a real road bike if I wanted to ‘Go Places’, although the geometry of the road bike is different, you get used to riding regularly.
  • Based on my physical port Firefox Aeon700C was the model he recommended, here I could tell I’m a big fan of native products as the first option. I am a competent authority and have a lot of experience in the sustainability of products made in India.
  • Fortunately, we were able to locate a store in Panchkula that had the model, we immediately headed there and made the purchase. The bike costs 38K in total.
  • I was advised to immediately opt for a suitable helmet and some essential accessories like gloves, riding goggles, a powerful headlight and several taillights, a shorts, a gel-based seat cover (essential for road bikes) and a fluorescent colored jacket (there was never any compromise on my brown sweatshirts). Decathlon to the rescue. I also have a key lock.
  • At that time I was only planning on road biking not sightseeing so rear pannier racks etc. were not thought of, but according to my knowledgeable knowledge, they would be coming soon!
  • The most important advice given was to understand the basic nuances of cycling. I contacted the local cycle mechanic instead of browsing YouTube videos. In a few months under his tutelage, I was able to change a tire with my eyes closed, among other things.

The Cycle and the essential.

So now the ride has begun. Yes, the geometry was quite confusing at first. The gears were positioned differently, as were the brakes, turning my head behind was a task with other minor obstacles, but say in a month or so I was comfortable driving. I started slowly, mainly from Solan to Panchkula, then to Chandigarh, further to Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal and one fine day, I reached Panipat (it’s 220 km from my home), I was delighted.

But then came the rains. I just couldn’t handle the cycle as well as before. The tires skidded mercilessly under braking, and I had a few close shaves. For anyone on blood thinners, this is a good last call. I called my acquaintance who suggested some changes but honestly they hovered over my head, concluded that I would be mountain biking when it was raining and continue road biking when it wasn’t, the arrangement worked perfectly. However, as always, I wanted to know more.

Then one day something unexpected happened, as it sank.

  • Wife: Listen, 4 of my friends from medical school with their husbands are planning a vacation in Goa over the coming long weekend, I told them you were ready.
  • Me: Wait what?
  • Wife: We are going to Goa; I know you have wanted a vacation for so long.
  • Me: I’m coming, my bike comes with me, if it’s okay, I’m playing or take my photo.
  • Wife: Okay it’s doable, come with this stuff and disappear when you’re not needed, and it’ll be a great vacation.

I have been sold. I travel light anyway, with cycling clothes it was lighter than usual, I brought in one of the countless packers in Aggarwal and they helped me pack the bike according to the airline regulations. We flew in Indigo and they didn’t fuss about the well-wrapped cycle. I was pretty sure there were Aggarwals in Goa who could help me with the flight home. We traveled by minibus from the airport to the resort so the package was well swallowed up. The packaging done was excellent. Nothing went here and there so I put it together and remembered I forgot to carry the air pump, the hotel staff had cycles so someone organized a pump , and I was all sorted. I joined the gang in cycling gear for the buffet lunch much to everyone’s amusement, once that was done I was gone.

Day 1

Varca Beach – Dabolim, Google showed two paths, I chose the one that would pass through the small villages of Goa just to absorb the feel of Goa. One thing about Goa is the threat of street dogs. They come to hunt and they are joined by another gang forming a big gang and they chase for a long time, I did what I had to do to make them leave making sure no animals were harmed in the process! The villages of Goa have a terrible calm, cycling around them made me feel very happy unlike the main roads where the traffic keeps you on your toes. I had an old buddy in Dabolim who I paid a surprise visit to, he was extremely happy to see me but lost me when I told about the nature of vacation! Being a teetotaler and vegetarian, Goa doesn’t have much to offer my kind, however, Veg Xacuti and Sol Kadi are must-sees. I left my hosts at the end of the evening and preferred to take a different route avoiding any meeting with my four-legged friends.

Day 2

Later that day I planned to visit another buddy who had moved to Agonda. I was advised to take the coastal road to Agonda, it meant I passed through Caravela-Cavelossim-Betul-Nuem-Kakolem-Cola-Agonda. The ride was breathtaking to say the least, never tiring, the old bud was delighted to see me. Agonda beach has incomparable beauty, a must visit for all. Surprisingly the old man loved cycling too, and he got himself a gravel bike, I didn’t want to show my ignorance as it would have rubbed my ego, but we decided to cycle back to my station together and I put a bet of 500 dollars because I ended up winning, the plan to study more on a gravel cycle was put on hold!

Great shots of Agonda beach.

Day 3

The hotel staff had highly recommended the Savri Waterfall inside the Netravali Wildlife Reserve. It was about 50km from the station passing through the villages of Goa again, the route I took was excellent, it went through the essence of Goa, unfortunately without a map or Google maps you might get to lose. The place is just not marked correctly for tourists, if this is done deliberately for preservation purposes it is worked until T, however it is a must see for all visitors, try to hire a cycling if you really want to enjoy Goa, the motorbike is just a waste of time, little involvement and Goa is extremely rider friendly when you enter the interiors (in my opinion). The waterfall, although poured out like it wasn’t monsoon, was still amazing. I liked it.

Day 4

At home luckily a good packer came and packed the cycle the day before. He charged a premium but then he packed well. I thanked and tipped the hotel staff for their help on the waterfall destination. We flew with Indigo again and no issues were made on the cycle packaging. Arrived in Delhi and goodbye to the gang who patiently allowed me to be myself! We drove to my in-laws before heading to Solan the next day. So ended a small but rather fascinating cycling holiday for us, I enjoyed it.

I decided to thank my wife for the vacation by taking her to dinner in one of her favorite backs and she ordered some fish, how to eat fish in Delhi after spending 4 days eating the same in Goa remains a mystery!

My strengths or a point to remember from my cycling experience:

  • Always better to cycle in a group.
  • Find your own pace and live with it, increasing gradually is the way to go.
  • Stretching done for the marathon also helps in cycling life.
  • Cycling clothing is essential. Cycling shoes are a booty. I use simple electric shoes and they work well.
  • Headlights, taillights should be more than one and should be openly bright. Don’t compromise here.
  • Research helmets, try one on before you buy. Don’t compromise here.
  • Wash cycle with lukewarm water, especially during the monsoon immediately after riding.
  • Oil the parts prone to rust.
  • After a long ride, take the bike to a bicycle mechanic to have the brakes checked, among other things.
  • Road rage on a bicycle does not help.
  • Expect the unexpected on the road, some will be nice memories and some will not, that’s life.

I see myself, in many ways, as a product of God’s benevolence. My next trip would be from Solan to Jwalaji temple to pay homage to the Almighty. More when that happens!

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