Let me be ME

Posts tagged ‘#MotherOfBoys’

Live to experience: Cycling across Austria and Italy

I understood the charm of cycling and also saddle sore during my first trip to Bhutan.
A Mumbaikar who had never done any climbs and a casual bike-to-work person was on her MTB managing on those massive climbs. This mountain biking experience made me realize first my potential and second the love for biking.
I then got a foldie and started regularly biking to work. I even did a Rajasthan tour on the bike and boy! I and my bike attracted quite a lot of eyeballs.https://www.idiva.com/news-entertainment/this-mom-cycled-across-rural-rajasthan-and-her-experience-will-give-you-major-travelgoals/15122153?fbclid=IwAR0QhmZFcGOLxjrLTrsHyxhQrpg0dCOVKuLGKkY0dds-4D4KF3e9cU4kUX4

I dreamt to explore Europe on the bike and this dream shaped into reality in August 2018.

How did we/I decide on the tour?

We asked like-minded people for the tour and formed a group. We had discussions over discussions, meetings over meetings, searching the web for the best possible route. The first tour in a foreign land, I had to keep lots of factors into consideration, especially the cost.
This time again I was the only female in the group, and the planning part automatically came to me.
We searched lots of sites for the best route but could not find any. Sapinderji, one of our riding partner suggested riding around Austria and Italy as his close family lived there. I liked the suggestion because I was still unsure about the dynamics of riding in a foreign country. Hence we decided to ride from Innsbruck to Verona with total traveling days from 9th -19th August 2018(kids’ exams were scheduled from 20th August, and anyhow I had to be back then)

Final call

Out of all the people discussing only three of us were left for the trip, and they were also unsure. Here I took a stand as I was very clear that even if no one comes, I’ll go ahead for the trip.
It takes hell lot of planning, effort, pleading, managing to move out of the house and somehow for men it gets straightforward.
But then Bansal uncle and SapinderJi agreed, and we were set to go.

Day 1 (09th August 2018)
Take off to Milan

Myself and Bansal uncle boarded the flight from Mumbai to Milan. We took a taxi to Verona which was pre-booked for us by Dimpy Singh (cousin of Sapinder Ji). It took us 2.2 hours to reach Verona.
I had already booked the apartment at Verona, and we directly reached there.
Check the link for the apartment, https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/21501982?s=51
The condo was strategically located, and it was a beautiful place to stay as well.
We finalized the bikes in the evening with Haider (owner at a local bike shop). We chose basic touring bikes where we could arrange our panniers as well.
We skipped the support vehicle to save the cost.

Selecting the bike in Verona

Day 2(11th August 2018)
Drive to Innsbruck

We loaded our bikes in the car and drove to Innsbruck which is approx. 3.4 hours drive from Verona.
Innsbruck(Austria) is Europe’s one of the most beautiful city.
It was cold here at night, and our apartment was very cozy. Our host was wonderful, and we had no problem in either locating or staying in the apartment.
Check the link, https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/19621713?s=51
The morning view was splendid.

On the way to Innsbruck

Day 3 (12th August 2018)
Innsbruck to Bressanone- 84.2 km

Day one of our ride and we were pretty excited. We got up early, packed our panniers and layered ourselves a little as it was cold. We had an excellent breakfast of freshly brewed coffee and croissants before the ride.
Oh! What a splendid morning it was, crisp sun, slight cold breeze, beautiful mountains, mesmerising scenery. I was already excited for the ride.
As soon as we started the ride, we found ourselves climbing the Brenner pass. We were not aware of the route hence were not expecting any climb. But the treacherous climb refused to end, and we climbed up for 40 km with basic bikes and panniers mounted.
We finally terminated the ride one station before Brixen, loaded our bikes in the train and headed for our halt.
Check our stay, https://www.airbnb.co.in/users/show/174956600

Here we were again hosted by Sapinder ji’s cousin and treated ourselves with rajma chawal and superb scotch.
Brixen is a laid back, quiet and a breathtakingly beautiful city.

Strava 1 <a href="http://”>http://

Strava 2<a href="http://”>http://

Day 4(13th August 2018)
Brixen to Bolzano- 44.44 km

We started at ease in the morning. It was a crisp, beautiful day and after manoeuvring for a while, we found ourselves on an exclusive cycling highway running parallel to the main road meant for other vehicles.
Oh ! what a delight to ride on a narrow lane meant only for cyclists. No rush or worry about any vehicles is honking or speeding. We had an incredible, delightful, hassle free and a fabulous ride. Each one of us was enjoying the route, and at one point we three were riding at our own pace and zooming freely.
The vineyards and apple orchards ran parallel to the highway, and Bansal uncle decided to be a naughty boy to pluck few and keep them in the panniers.
I was on guard and raised the alarm if I saw anyone approaching us. What fun, turning into mischievous little kids !! I was singing, clicking pics, taking videos and couldn’t stop my grin ear to ear.
We went through the local villages soaking into the vibrancies of colors and breathtaking architecture.
Sapinder ji’s young nephew also joined us on this ride, and it was great to learn a few Italian words for him. He also helped ask for directions.
We met many cyclists on the way, and we waved and greeted each other.
Here we had to change our stay option as the young chap with us was tired and our stay was a little far from the city.
But, everything happens for good and the place we decided to stay is beyond any description in words.
It was a wooden cottage owned by a couple who had apple orchards in the backyard and a beautiful extensive spread garden with amazing flowers.
We were served freshly baked bread with homemade butter and jam, fresh apricots from the garden and surely an excellent coffee for breakfast.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland!

Somewhere on the way to Bolzano

Strava <a href="http://”>http://

Day 5(14th August 2018)
Bolzano to Terento(route changed to Verona)-69.96 km

After a sumptuous breakfast, we were back on the cycling highway.
We met a family from London with three kids, and they were on a cycling holiday as well. We also met two friends somewhat over 50 years old and loved the way they were chatting and riding, also stealing apples and keeping them in the bag.
The whole experience of riding on the highway was stress-free. We were not chasing starva ratings, speed or QOM but we were pursuing happiness in riding across this beautiful country.
We stopped more than we cycled.
Each one of us was displaying a very happy hormone in the body language.
There was a particular midway café meant only for cyclists. It had cycle trainers, cycle stands and necessary servicing too.
At this café, our young champ gave up, and then our trip itinerary changed.
We decided to go to Terento and board the train to Verona and drop him home.
At night we were back to Verona where Dimpy ji’s famous restaurant called Maharaja welcomed us with best food and drinks.

Bicycle cafe

Strava <a href="http://”>http://

Day 6(15th August 2018)

Verona to Desenzano- 52.35 kms

We started from Verona to Desenzano aka Lake Garda early morning.
It was also Independence Day of India, so I hanged the Indian flag on my bike and proudly took it wherever I went.
It was a holiday season in Italy at that time, and everyone was in a holiday mood. We lost our way as usual and landed in a roadside café. There was a group of men over 70years I guess sitting and sipping their wine. Laughter, chatting and sparkling wine filled the restaurant at 9 am. Even without knowing the language we talked a lot and finally started our way ahead. We cycled through deserted, decorated and as well as villages full of life and colors. It was sweltering, and the sun was piercing the skin, but every pedal was worth taking. We finally reached Lake, and again this place stunned us with its beauty and charm. Colorful flowers, beautiful streets, all people in the holiday mood and the spectacular lake.oh ! it was stunning.
Our apartment was clean, strategically located and comfortable.
After a quick shower, we headed out for evening walk, followed by dinner and wine. It was a beautiful eve with live bands playing at every nook and corner, children dancing all over, young and the old shaking their booties too.
I heard a band playing “Happy” from Despicable 2. I rushed and requested to sing again because boys and I love singing this song together.

Enroute Desenzano

Strava <a href="http://”>http://

Day 7(16th August 2018)

Desenzano to Verona 46.46km

We got up easy the next day, had our coffee at leisure and cycled way back to Verona. We took a different route this time (as if we knew the way back, Ha!) and within no time we were in Verona.
It was scorching hot, and Dimpy Ji hosted us again with best of lemonades and salads.http://www.maharajah1.com/
We quickly took a shower and then walked all over Verona for site-seeing. Right from Gelatos, to wishing at Juliet, sipping wine, visiting an internationally famed pub, we did all until we were dead to retire for the day.
We stayed at the same apartment the next day as well.

Desenzano

Strava <a href="http://”>http://

Day 8 (17th August 2018 )

Our changed itinerary gave us two rest days, and we headed towards Florence to set the leaning tower of Pisa upright.
At Florence, Mr. Jyoti Singh owns a restaurant called Havelihttps://florenceindianrestaurant.it/ which is again a must visit. He served us with the best possible Indian food both veg and non-veg, and his hospitality floored us. After convincing him that we could not eat anymore, we headed for Pisa and also the town. Florence architecture is worth admiring and leaves one in complete awe.
We had a beautiful day roaming and driving around Florence and headed back to Verona by evening.
We packed our bags at night as our trip was now taking a different route.

Leaning Tower of Pisa- Florence

Day 9(18th August 2018)

We bid adieu to Verona and thanked our host. Myself and Bansal uncle boarded the train to Venice. Yes, we were now heading to the city of Gandolas.
Our Air BnB apartment here was nothing less than an excellent, super clean and beautiful five-star hotel https://cadegliantichigiardini-venezia.com/
With the sun in its full fury, we decided to stay indoors. I soaked myself in the bathtub for the longest possible time and took a great nap.
We headed out to explore the city on foot in the eve.
It is indeed a beautiful city with Gondolas ferrying from one part to another. We walked to almost one corner of the town to another finally had our dinner and came back to our comfortable room.

Bidding adieu to Dimpy Ji and his highly recommended restaurant Maharaja in Verona

Day 10(19th August 2018)

It was time to do the final packing as we were heading back home. With most beautiful experiences, memories, routes, food, missing the way, finding a new one, meeting new people, we boarded the flight back to Mumbai.

Flying off from MarcoPolo

Budgeting

I had set a budget of maximum 1L for the trip.We tweaked our flight destinations to match our budgets. We also chose Air BnB for our stay with kitchen. Sharing our expense,

Flights(economy)StayMiscellaneous
Mum-Milan(Emirates)
MarcoPolo-Mum
INR 48120INR 32000 INR 26000
Total-INR 106120

Some pointers for a smooth yet enriching experience

  • Form a group of like minded people- gives a lot of comfort
  • Be strict on the budget
  • Book tickets in advance and do a comparative analysis as well
  • Do an excellent survey for stay options preferably take one with a kitchen; it saves a lot of costs
  • Travel light
  • Be mobile and carry walking shoes to cover a lot of distance walking
  • Be open to immediate change in plans
  • When traveling with men, be very clear- they never grow up, ever! (you’ll have to play mommy role time and again)
  • Keep all the things sorted back home. Emergency doctor contact, inform friends about your travel, drop a message at school group for the last minute project submission help, maids should not take off. Trust me as long as things run well behind you; you’ll be at peace.

Trailthon: Why and How?

Out there, there ain’t no black and white. There’s only fast and slow. Nothing matters, not color, not money, not even hate. For those ten seconds you are completely free- Race

First Trialthon,Kolhapur,Nov’2018

Why a Triathlon?
Because I can. Isn’t it?
It started over coffee when I met Mehul one fine evening in May 2018. He suggested that I should enroll in Kolhapur triathlon. I looked at him aghast wondering- REALLY !!!
He discussed the race casually. Of course, he will be casual as he is avid is all the sports and also an Ironman.
But what about me? Good at none.
I thought to give it a shot. I surfed the website and realized that sprint distance registration was over. Hence, I enrolled for Olympic distance and again asked Mehul, “do you think I can?” and his reply was as usual, “oh yes! It’s not tough.”

Preparation; aka “maar jaega tu”(you’ll be dead)

I had to streamline my work out and get into further strict discipline, so I needed a coach, and unanimously I landed to Viv. His weekly training plans left me breathless, exhausted, muscle sore but extremely satisfied.
I followed sensible eating, adhered to the training routine,my gym instructor Sagar framed my sessions as per my training plan; I tweaked and adjusted the plan with my travel and kids schedule. Trust me it’s sturdy and tough to burn the ass on the cycle trainer and also teach geography for the test.
It was equally tough to deny all weekend late nights, skipping social dinners or even casual chit chat. I had to time my training along with home, kids, work, travel and all of them equally demanding. The wine and single malt connoisseur in me also took a back seat.
Uffff!!! Sipping nimbu-paani on Friday eve because I had to train from 4 am on a Saturday, who would ever make such a sacrifice other than a crazy head.

Here I faced two vital challenges,

First, to keep myself motivated every single day
Second, to follow a hard training schedule along with other significant responsibilities

Tackling the first one, to keep myself motivated every single day
Setting a goal with a motive to raise the bar higher and higher kept me motivated. I also believed that I am doing this for myself and not for anyone else. Training left my mind numb, and I focussed my entire energy in one direction. It was my meditation.
Also, getting into a circle of energy of like-minded people and seeing their achievements, struggles, hard work was motivating too.

Home trainer to manage kids studies as well

Managing the second one, Time- management
I started getting up early before waking up boys for school. At times I trained after I dropped them to school and was at the work desk by 10 am. I also managed cycle training while I was checking their homework or revising for the exams. During my travel, I never missed the gym and running.

Toughest-part ; aka Phatt jaegi

Me with Sheetal and Nimesh

November 2018, I was all set for my first triathlon and excited, anxious, nervous, running cold, parched throat, dizzy, etc.
On the day of the practice swim in the open lake, it took me several minutes to plunge or not. Finally, I managed but swam along the support rope for a very short distance. Tried several times but could not achieve the full length.
I suffer from Acrophobia(fear of heights) and during this process realized that I also suffer from Thalassophobia(fear of water, dark, uncertainty).
I studied a lot about it, talked to therapists, read several self-help books, and nothing helped, just nothing.
I had a DNF (did not finish) in Kolhapur triathlon. I could not swim even 100 meters on the race day.
I had to take this phobia in my stride, and I always believe that nothing is more powerful than the human mind.
Sheetal came to me as a guiding angel and introduced me to Nimesh, swimming coach who took groups for sea swims. I had an anchor now.

Open Water Swim group

I distinctly remember when I went for the first time for the open water swim — the night before I was crying, praying, meditating endlessly.
I got up at 4 am, took a deep breath and drove to Uran which is a two hours drive from my place. The sea was low that day, and I swam only until where my feet touched the ground. Nimesh was very cooperative here and encouraged me to swim further but I couldn’t.
The second attempt was better than the first one. The third attempt was very confident where I jumped into the middle of the sea from the boat and swam till the shore. That day the sea was very high with waves pushing me here and there, but I managed the swim.

I was now somewhat sure of swimming in the sea for my next race.

Second attempt, Abu Dhabi Triathlon March 2019

Last minute decision to get the wetsuit

Just a few days before the race Deep asked me to check with my coach about the wet suit and Viv gave a thumbs up. Now the issue was on how and where to get the wetsuit? Here Parul came as a savior; she not only helped in selecting but also guided on handling and renting. It gave me lots of confidence in the open water swim.Check the link herehttps://www.buttersport.com/

Challenges during the race

Trail Swim in wetsuit

I landed in Abu Dhabi feeling drained. Next day I had my trial swim. I took a while to jump in the water, but then I finally tried the sprint distance of 750 meters and was now happy and confident to swim through the whole length the next day.
I was back to the hotel with a terrible throat ache, and by evening I was down with a fever. I rinsed and gargled with betadine. Salt, disprin and a combination of all too. Could not eat anything or even sip water. I was terrified about the race now.

Bib collection day
Biking in swimming goggles

Got up much before time moreover who slept that night, popped two paracetamol and off I went to the venue. I was trembling by now.
Running nose, fever, body ache, and cold wind, nothing was in my favor.
At the holding area for the swim, we were starting in waves of four, and I had no waiting time at all, no time to ponder, regret, mull but to jump and I did.
I had a very poor swim, but I was determined to finish the full distance and not give up.
Once out the sea, I ran to T1 to get the bike and realized that I had not kept my glasses (I use high power glasses for the swim and run), I had no other choice but to wear my swimming goggles and bike.

I chanted my mantra which I also tell my boys, “Kadam bade hain toh rukenge nahin”

Finished the bike lap and hushed for the run. By now it was hot, and I dragged myself for the first 2kms. It was the last lap, and I was not ready to give up come what may. So I held my chin up and jogged –run-jogged and finally sprinted in the last km cheering to myself the way I do for Sid for his runs. I remember cheering loudly,“Sid, ho Gaya beta. Almost done, darling. Just 500 meters left, we will not give up. Run darling run. Mamma is right here with you.”


Once I touched the finish line, I sat down and cried my heart out(har baat pe hi rona aa jata hai), definitely for I finished but also that I did not give up.

I never will.

Popped two paracetamol pills, packed my bike(thanks to mastermindhttp://www.mastermindbikes.in/welcome.html and team here) and flew back home with a determination that next race will be better than this.

Trialthon doesn’t build character, it reveals it