Posted at 12:58 pm , on June 5, 2020
I turned forty two years amidst a midlife crisis of sorts. My company had announced that they would be shutting down, and I was recovering from a recurring chronic lower back pain that refused to go away. I was not very physically active – I had a desk job. With two kids, I rarely got time to myself and when I did, I usually spent it working on plans for our company. The back pain got worse and my doctor warned me that unless I exercised regularly and improved my diet and added calcium, I would be in for my pain getting worse post forty. I was already depressed about my company shutting down – I was one of the first employees and we built up our advertising firm from scratch. Additionally with the long hours and lack of exercise, I was twenty pounds heavier than my usual weight. Turning forty seemed more of an end than a beginning as many people tried to tell me gently. I couldn’t even talk to my husband who’s been my best friend since we got married. I consulted a therapist who asked me to think of activities I enjoyed as a child. I could only remember running and climbing trees in our small garden, and cycling with my sister.
Needless to say on my fortieth birthday my husband presented me with a bicycle, a Granite 26T from Frog. We stay in Bombay – I laughed seeing his present. Where in this crowded city would I cycle and more importantly, I was too old for this. Cycling is for children.
He then presented his second surprise – a cycle for himself, the Ironclad 29T, also from Frog. He had also become heavier over the years and been lax about his fitness. We both can be children together, and more importantly fit children, was his retort to my remark.
We stay close to the sea, there is a promenade around for people to walk. People also cycle close to the promenade. My husband made it a point for us to wake up by 5 am and go for a ride by 6 am. I was surprised to see a bunch of cyclists at that time. They looked like professionals, and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere close to their cycling levels. We started by going 2 days in a week. I cycled leisurely looking the sea in the cool morning breeze. It felt great, a much needed time to myself. Gradually we increased to four times a week. I slowly started increasing my speed as well. I could feel a change in my mood after my sessions and a slow change in my body. I started eating better so my cycling didn’t go to waste. Slowly I started pushing myself further to increase my speed and distance. It was hard and there are many days when my mind gave up. However having my husband as my partner helped tremendously because we could gently push each other to doing more.
My cycling hours became a precious meditation time to myself. I was still unsure about work but I started pitching myself independently to firms. I got a few very small, poorly paid gigs which upset me initially but I took them on. Word got around and I started getting more work. My back pain improved. My posture improved. I didn’t know I had in me to push myself physically. I discovered a passion in me for fitness which I didn’t know existed.
Cycling together, silently, intensely built my relationship with my husband more. We joined a cycling club of serious cyclists. While we both are not professional cyclists and neither do we aspire to be, it was inspirational to be part of this club. Most of the members started cycling later in life after undergoing serious life changes and had greatly inspiring stories to share.
Today my husband and I both cycle together regularly five days a week. It’s been two years and we have been all over the city on our cycles. Next on our list is a cycling road trip with the members from our club. I cannot thank my husband enough for the gift he gave me two years ago. Cycling saved me in many ways.
I now understood what people meant when they told me forty is a beginning.