Nirupama Bhave and her scooter were inseparable till the age of 52. A chance meeting with her husband's colleague, who cycled from his home in Pashan to his workplace at Wadia College, piqued her curiosity. Twelve years later, the 64-year-old feisty woman cycles everywhere – in the mountain passes of Leh-Ladakh, the southern coastline, desert of Rajasthan, Pune-Mumbai highway and of course on roads of Pune.
“I rarely cycled in my school/college days as we lived at a short distance. Once I started working as a professor of Statistics and then Mathematics, the scooter was my preferred mode of travelling,” says Bhave.
Her first cycle rally was from Wagah border to Agra, a distance of 650 kms.
“I had just joined Pune Cycle Pratisthan when I heard the members discussing about the cycle rally. I evinced interest in it the rally and started preparing for it by cycling to Bhor and Ranjangaon. During the rally, I was slow compared to others. But I managed to successfully complete the distance,” she reminisces.
Since then Bhave has cycled from Goa to Cochin, Jodhpur to Ahmedabad and from Chennai to Kanyakumari. This year, in January, she cycled to Madhya Pradesh.
In fact, last Sunday, she accompanied her nephew on cycle, from Pune to Dombivli.
“It took us 11 hours to reach Dombivli. Now I have the confidence to cycle 150 kms in one day,” says Bhave, relishing the experience.
Looking at her fit, energetic and alert frame, one wonders about her exercise regimen.
“I should thank my parents for my physique. But to maintain my fitness levels, I do pranayam and breathing exercises for 40 minutes. Then I climb Hanuman Tekadi followed by 45 minutes of gymming everyday,” she says.
Bhave, who was part of the Mt Everest expedition and has also participated in Enduro's amateur category five times, believes in the “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” mantra.
“When I go on a cycle rally, the other members are younger to me by a decade or two. They obviously cycle ahead, but I meet them when they stop to catch their breath. I like cycling non-stop and to ensure that I match the rhythm of pedalling and breathing. When I realise I am getting tired, I push myself to cycle further for seven-eight kms,” she explains.
Bhave along with her friends is supporting the cause of cycle.
“We approach families, who have unused cycles, to convince them to pass on the machine to those who need. Cycles should always be in use,” Bhave concludes on a firm note.
1) “Recently, I participated in rock climbing and rappelling at Tail Baila. I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience. My love for adventure sports grew and multiplied with cycling.”
2) “I drink lots of water to keep fit. I eat big portions when I participate in the cycling rally, because two hours of cycling aids in digestion and burning the calories.”