I had always known how to cycle. But had never cycled for long distances, on actual roads, among other vehicles. After months of sitting around in my house due to lockdown, I was deprived of stimulation and tired of monotony. I wanted to move out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. So, when a friend proposed to go cycling with me, I was ecstatic! My goal was to cover ten Kilometers atleast twice a week, for two months.
Learning Outcome 1:
I was incredibly nervous of managing myself among other vehicles. To get over this fear, I had to accept the fact that there is uncertainty and risk in cycling in an urban environment, especially for a beginner. That I had to prepare myself and take extra precautions to stay safe. I spent a week surfing the internet and acquainting myself with all traffic rules and learning how to keep myself safe on a cycle. I memorized basic actions like hand-singnaling, sticking to the left lane, maintaining distance between other vehicles and even purchased safety gears.
The lack of physical activity during lockdown had decreased my stamina. To get my body reacquainted with exercising, I started with small rounds and gradually increased the length.
Learning Outcome 2:
On day one, my cycle was wobbling a little. I wasn’t able to keep my arms completely steady. My pace was considerably less compared to my friend and I had to take several breaks in between. While taking a turn, I had to wait for a long time for vehicles to pass and I eventually stepped down and walked my cycle across the intersection. I barely missed running into a scooter that was coming in the opposite direction. Always staying aware of other vehicles around me while keeping my eyes on the road, moving around pedestrians while navigating along the selected route and making split-second decisions was overwhelming to me. When I saw how effortlessly my friend was navigating, it initially embarassed me but it also gave me confidence that I would improve over time. And I did.
On the third day, I was able to keep my handle steady and complete my round without any breaks. On the fourth day, my speed was faster and consistent throughout. Gradually, my muscle memory and traffic intuition improved. I started knowing when to slow down instead of constantly applying the brakes. I was able to make smooth turns and navigate traffic easily. This skill will be very helpful in the future when I progress to driving other vehicles. As of now, it will help me to run small errands without needing someone to drop/pick me up at places.
Learning Outcome 3:
To stay organized, we mapped out a route with relatively empty roads. I reviewed my schedule and alloted an hour for cycling at a fixed time, everyday. Since I knew that my friend would be waiting for me, I was able to force myself to stick to the schedule. On weekends, we would go early in the morning. This made me more energetic the rest of the day more productive.
Downloading a cycling tracker helped evaluate my performance. When I started stretching and keeping myself hydrated before the cycling seessions, a lot of improvement was visible in my statistics.
Learning Outcome 4:
The first week was very difficult for me. I used to get completely exhausted and take long resting periods after coming home, disturbing my entire schedule. Even though I felt like messaging my friend to go on without me, I controlled that urge. Gradually, I built up my endurance and started completing my rounds without getting tired. Then cycling became something I looked forward to everyday. Instead of draining me, it started energising me.
Learning Outcome 5:
Cycling with a friend made this experience quite enjoyable. We worked together on figuring out timings and routes for our rounds. She provided me with a lot of good tips and I listened and followed them. This helped me improve. I realised that is important to acknowledge the expertise of people that I work with, rather than focusing on my own. That teamwork and leadership is all about learning from others.
Cycling early in the morning, on empty streets was the highlight of this experience. Witnessing the sunrise always started the day on a high note. Halfway through my rounds, I used to stop at the river bank and sit silently for a few minutes before going back, giving me a sense of calm and happiness throughout the day. This experience taught me that I should have atleast a few goals that challenge me, all the time. It made me more of a Risk-taker and Reflective person.