This blog is about my experience of cycling with pedal power group Vasai which is about 50 kms towards the north end of Mumbai.
On a Saturday evening I searched for a place on the internet called ‘Pedal Power Cafe’. My friend had told me about pedal powers a day earlier. I wasn’t aware that the number i am dialing is of the owner Ajay Malik. I inquired to book a cycle on rent from his store. He was friendly during the call & kind enough to offer me to join his group for a ride next morning which i accepted it happily.
I am not a regular traveller to the north end of the city & sought help from ‘m-indicator’ for the earliest train departing from bandra to vasai next morning. ‘Travelling alone’ ‘riding with strangers’ i was a bit nervous & quietly decided to pack up my sling bag with some energy bars, bananas, riding kit & went early to bed.
Sunday, at 5.05 am, i boarded a fast local from bandra which was scheduled to arrive vasai at 5.55 am. The rain clouds seemed to be happy & refusing to stop as i looked outside feeling the crack of dawn. Half asleep, half awake & little nervous, i reached my destination & realised that i have left the sipper behind. The rains continued as i figured out my way to reach the meeting point pedal power cafe.
It was 6.10 am & under the shelter of the cafe, i sat on a wooden bench only to see empty streets, heavy showers & a small temple on the opposite end. As the rains started to show it’s might, a young monk arrived at the temple, unlocked the holy place & commenced with his rituals. A little cat too made an entry & moved around confidently but the monk had no objection & he continued with his thanks giving. It was a lovely sight & i noticed that my nervousness was gone & felt more energized.
Around 6.30 am, a young boy arrived on a shining bright red btwin, parked it gently as we exchanged smiles. He was completely drenched but full of spirit & assured me that today’s ride is gonna be a memorable one. My emotions were high as we progressed with our conversations. Soon, two more guys joined us & we were now a group of four. At about 7.15 am the owner of the cafe ajay made an entry with his wife & cousin all dressed up in cycling suits. As we introduced ourselves to each other the cafe was being opened for us to take our rented two wheels. It was time for me to change into my cycling suit & as i came out from the shower room we were finally a bunch of eight riders, all ready for the adventure to begin.
From pedal power cafe, we started riding slowly forming a herd under heavy showers. Ajay was the lead rider & we were heading towards Tungareshwar, a hilly place known for its scenic beauty, mountains, waterfalls & more popular for a temple of Lord Shiva.
In about 25 minutes, we reached the place & were welcomed by the green sanctuary with it’s gravel pathway & narrow passages. One wouldn’t be able to manoeuvre swiftly without an MTB & the bikes did sustain the off roads considerably. We also saw groups of motorbike riders, trekkers & weekend travellers relishing the beautiful weather. After crossing two small streams we took a halt & a lot of pictures. The place was quite serene & my soul got completely refreshed. Silently, i told my self that it was a good move visiting this place. Strangers were no strangers, energies renewed & in nature’s company, terrific experience.
‘Pedalling can take you to places’ and i further believed in this quote which I wrote about a month ago after riding in Costa Brava, Spain. With happy moments & memories we decided to return & rode back again forming a herd to be safe in the moving traffic. While moods, feelings & expressions changed, one thing was constant during our entire ride ‘Rains’.
Once we we’re back, the herd started splitting with firm hand shakes & greetings filled with a promise to have another ride together. I decided to have breakfast in the cafe & explore its uniquely designed furniture, wall paintings, decorative’s all inspired from bicycles & packed with a delicious menu. Sitting in the middle of a sublime ambiance, i felt – there is nothing on earth that i wish to bring back in my life other than my childhood.
I would like to end this blog with a quote by Laurie Lee –
“Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn’t raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things”
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai