Our helmets are green, sponsored, and the strap is too tight.
‘We look like watermelons,’ I tell my brother, so keen to prove his mettle as a fit fauji that for the one day he is town, he must wake up at 4.30 am and keep me company.
We're under-slept and waiting, at 5.30 am near Jantar Mantar, for the other five 'amateur cyclists' to show up — five 'enthu-cutlets', including my Enfield-riding colleague, Praveen Donthi.
Everyone was gung-ho till the night before. ‘Yea!’ and ‘Let's do this!’ and ‘I haven't cycled in years!’ and ‘Put my name down too’.
And I did. I even asked guy at the registration desk if we could be in a category cooler than amateur. He gave me an option —’Corporate?’ And I had to say ‘um no, thanks, amateur's good.’
Given that the starting time was 6 a.m. and we began cycling at 7.45, even the last of us to turn up had enough time to pick a functional bike — not easy given how everyone's body type seemed destined to remain out of sync with the seat level.
By 7.30 though, we had gotten past the obstacles — the jinx of the dud bikes, and the slight organisational impotence. And we were cruising, down Lutyens', in packs, pedalling easy with 'watermelons' on our heads, past the policemen and cameramen and trying to not think about what 25 kms would do to our behinds come the following morning.
The highpoint of the non-race was the sight of pros with their chiselled calves in appropriate gear, hunched on their expensive bikes with slender tyres zipping past. It was only and hour and a half of cardio-meets-chit-chat on a route that got monotonous after the second lap, the sight of Rashtrapati Bhavan up-close not withstanding. And you don't even get medals for finishing well before your cronies. But despite the hitches of chains coming off and no Salman Khan, I can't say the ride wasn't fun.