If one word could describe the 10km corporate leg of Sunday’s Chandigarh Cyclothon, it would most certainly be ‘cramps!’ And before you quickly judge me for that sign of exclamation and think of me as that stereotype who loves to discuss Power Yoga while sipping herbal tea on a couch in front of the TV – which I do, honestly – I must make my moot point that I was not alone in the Cramps Club, nor were we a pitiable lot exactly.
Ours was the third most populated club – after the Enthusiastic-Kids-of-Excited-Corporate-Bosses Club that was followed by the Oh-No!- My-Cycle-Broke-Down Club – but our socialist agenda set us apart. As the small but dominant Fat-Salary-Toned-Body Über Bourgeoisie Club passed us by, our Cramps Club was busy struggling for survival.
Many cheated and took a U-turn at 2-3 km, while others saw their pain as a virtue and limped along, two older men finding it an ideal moment to discuss certain Russian writers, and a pretty young girl even employing Norah Jones’ sad songs on the way.
But times were not always like that. Between 7.30 and 8.20am, around an hour before the green flag from Sukhna Lake, we were a happy bunch choosing from cycles handed out by the organisers to those who wanted to take part but did not have the means. Some of us were lucky to get cycles with gearshifts and comfortable seats, while others were liberal with profanities for the kids who were busy deflating tyres and breaking brake handles, awash in a rowdiness allegedly exclusive to the under-aged and the under-privileged.
By the time we reached the halfway mark, walking seemed a better option. With no one wanting to offend anyone else from the same club, realising that laggards’ dignity lay in numbers, at least 30 of us began a quiet walk of shame. As the sun grew angry, at least 15 retired under trees, not accepting defeat but blaming the very idea of a race. Ten more called it quits near a public water tank and put the blame squarely on the bad quality of cycles provided by the organisers, while five others simply disappeared (only to later meet us smiling at the finish line).
The five of us who remained -- two strikingly similar-looking girls with identical blue cycles, a young man with a beehive beard and a black cycle, a boy with light eyes and a pink ride, and Yours Truly – decided to board the saddle for the last 300 metres and arrive at the finish line with the winning-ain’t-everything attitude.
But when the finish line was in sight, Yours Truly and the Beehive Beard Man found it too shameful to cross it last and sped ahead. The girls were quick to get the cue, but the Green-Eyed Boy didn’t even try and finished last. Applause followed, but it was all his. The cramps that had limited us had become his endearing virtue.