My love affair with cycling began way back in the 60s. It started with a small cycle which had two support wheels attached. I then graduated to a bigger cycle, and finally the day came when my Dad took me to Nobel cycles in town and bought me a Norton cycle, a beautiful shade of green it was. Every Sunday I would wash and polish my bike and take it for a ride.
Cycling at a young age:
I grew up in 7 bungalows, Andheri. Back then 7 bungalows was a one-horse town. There was just one road, which we called the ‘main road’, it connected the Versova fishing village to Andheri station. I would ride my cycle on that practically deserted road, which had marsh on either side of the road. I just loved the silence which made me one with my bike.
A few years later I bought myself a Raleigh Road bike, with drop down handles. For me, this was a Rolls-Royce. I used to proudly take it to school, and I was known as ‘the guy with the racing cycle’.
But all this came to an abrupt halt, when one day I was riding back home with my books in one hand and holding the cycle handle with the other, when I crashed head on with a truck. Fortunately, the truck was very slow, but nevertheless, it caused extensive damage to my bike, and I injured both my wrists because of the impact. I did get it repaired, but it was never the same again.
Cycling in Dubai:
Fast forward to 2015, since I worked for an airline in Dubai, I had the opportunity to go to Taiwan and buy myself a Giant fast road cycle. It was packed in a box, and the next morning I was in the shop to get it assembled. When it was all done, my joy knew no bounds.
A few friends and I would hook up our bikes on the car and drive to a cycling track a few kilometers away from Dubai and would cycle 50 km on the cycling track, every Friday.
Cycling in Mumbai:
Then in 2018, I retired and came back to Mumbai after spending 25 long years in Dubai. But not without my cycle.
Back in Mumbai I had no more friends left and didn’t know the roads too well either, so my cycle lay in one corner of the house. Until I decided one day to ride up to Juhu and after a few days went further on till Bandra.
One fine day I took my cycle and decided to ride as far as I could, and lo and behold, I reached NCPA! Of course, not without losing my way and missing several turns. I took a selfie of myself with the Oberoi hotel in the background and sent it to my wife. She asked where I was, and I said, ‘I am where I am, in Nariman point. She was in total shock. Thereafter I did a few more rides, but it got boring to ride all by myself and my cycle went into hibernation again.
A few months later a friend of mine said he knew a friend who rode with a group, and gave me his number. I called him up, but was not sure if I could keep pace with the Mumbaikars, so it took me a few weeks before I decided to do a ride with them and realised I fared well. This marked my entry to the West Coast Riders club. And I continue to ride with the founder members, Chris and Ayesha Pereira, although the club has been given a different name now.
I was once at NCPA and a guy saw my bike and looked at my bike and me up and down, and asked me several questions, including if I was on Strava, which I was not at that point of time. I then realised he asked me all this because he had the same bike, and he told me not many people in Mumbai had this bike. The person’s name was Carl Fernandes, who has since become a good friend and mentor to me. I was later invited to join his group which is called CAM.
Thus marked my foray into the Mumbai cycling world.
Since then, I made a trip to Vietnam with a few friends and we hired bikes and toured Vietnam. We were there for a week and everyday our guide would take us on a different route. It was a great way to see the country.
My journey continues.
I was born in a small sleepy town in Bombay (now known as Mumbai) on the 10th of February 1953. Attended primary school which was opposite our bungalow. Later on went to a secondary school. Did a part time job, while in school, as an instructor in a well know Mumbai gym. Finally ended up in the airline industry in th 70’s. Worked with two international and one domestic airline at Mumbai airport and my last job was with an airline in the Middle East, from where I finally retired in 2018 and came down to Mumbai. I now lead a retired life in the suburbs of Mumbai with my wife and son, and a dog, who is also part of the family. I now pursue my hobbies which are , fish keeping and birds, and of course cycling, which has been a lifelong passion.
Photo credits: Bryan Noronha
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Author: Bryan Noronha, Mumbai