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Cycling | kiruba.com

Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

Why I Still Like Lance Armstrong


(Pic courtesy: Gawker)
When I was in my 3rd standard, my Tamil teacher taught me about a bird called ‘Annam’ ( or Annapparavai), a beautiful, white colored, swan-like bird. The specialty of this bird is that even if it was given diluted milk, it had the ability to extract pure milk and drink it.

My teacher would often say that the people who we meet in real life are like diluted milk. Every person has both good and bad qualities. Like the Annam bird, we need to extract just the good qualities.

For a long time, I thought that bird was real. Even after realizing that its a mythical character much later, that lesson got entrenched in my mind.

That early lesson comes to my mind again as I think of Lance Armstrong.

There’s no doubt that he made mistakes…grave ones. He cheated, he lied, he bullied. Yet, I can’t get myself to hate the guy.

You must give it to a guy who can raise over $500 Million for a foundation. Try raising even a small amount of money for a charity and you will know how tough that is.

He has given hope to many cancer patients. Just ask Yuvraj Singh. Ask his mother. Ask the mother’s of all the patients who were inspired. Now, lets talk again.

I have done a bit of cycling.. a tiny fraction but that’s good enough to appreciate anyone who rides the Tour de France. 3500+ kms at an average speed of 40kms. That’s frickin’ insane. With or without drugs, that’s just plain astounding. I tried attempting 40 kms speed and after 2 kms, my lungs were ready to explode.

I have read every book of his. I liked them all. Authoring a book is not easy. I’ve done four and I’m fairly confident that they suck. So, when I find a book with lucid narrative, I can’t help but appreciate it.

Cycling is not a popular sport. Not by a long shot as compared to Soccer, Cricket or even Golf. Yet, Armstrong made a fantastic name for himself and almost single-handedly made the sport popular for my generation.

I’m not for one bit defending what Lance Armstrong did. What he did was plain wrong. He deserves the punishment he got.

What I’m really hoping is that he gets a window of opportunity to get back to sports…be it cycling, marathons or triathlons. I strongly feel he deserves a chance, even if its not for himself but for the sake of so many people like me who have made mistakes in our lives.

I hated Mohd Azzaruddin and Ajay Jadeja for what they did. While I still arbor animosity, I admire their resilience for how strongly they have come back. With so much hatred, its easy for people to buckle down and disappear. These people chose to claw their way back.

I sure do hope Lance gets his chance. I would love to see him come back clean. You can be sure I will be rooting for him… even more than I did before.


Why This Photo is Special to Me !

This is one of my favorite photos from the ‘Tour of Tamilnadu’, the 7 days, 900 kms cycling trip. The tour was split into 7 stages and the toughest one was on Day 3. We had to cycle 188 kms from Rameswaram to Tuticorin and had to do it within 12 hours. Not only was it the longest distance of the tour, it was also the harshest. The sun was beating down hard and the heat amplified by salt pans that spread across thousands of acres. As if that wasn’t enough, the route was through a boring stretch of National Highways. Our legs were weary from having pedaled 94 and 127 kms the previous two days.

It was tough day. Both physically and mentally taxing. They say that the race is divided into two parts. The first part is 150 kms and the second part is 38 kms. It may not make mathematical sense but they are right. The last stretch is the hardest. Each kilometer starts getting longer. The pain in the legs grows with each push of the pedal. The sun saps your energy no matter how much Enerzol you drink.

That’s when I teamed up with Ramesh, fellow rider and NLP trainer. We stuck together and gave each other company. We chatted strange subjects to fight boredom. We also had to fight the sweeper van which threathed to pick us up off the road in case we didn’t finish before dusk. That’s an ignominy we didn’t want to face. Now, in addition to fatigue and pain, we also had to fight the clock.

We finally reached the destination, GRT Regency Hotel at Tuticorin, exactly at 6:01 PM. The first thing I did after parking my cycle was reach out to Ramesh for a bear hug. That hug showed the power of human mind to overcome physical hurdles. It showed the power of team work.

Kudos to KrishnaKumar, fellow rider and a photo enthusiast for seizing the exact moment. To me, this photo will be special. Very special.


Loknath : The Masseur Who Gives Extreme Pain and Ultimate Relief

Bicycling an average of 120+ kms everyday on Indian roads can take a huge toll on the body. By the end of the day, the thighs feel like wooden pillars and the calf muscles hurt so much that you wish there was a Jaipur foot for replacement. That’s where Loknath, the official masseur for the Tour of Tamilnadu comes in. He may look puny but his hands pack a punch. He has decades of experience and knows precisely which parts of the body and which muscles need to be worked on. Going in for a massage is like entering a torture camp. Its like signing up for pain. Correction: Extrememe pain. But once you endure 10 minutes of Loknath’s dreaded hands, you feel so much relief that you are already raring to cream the 120+ kms of cycling the next day. Here are some pics from his massage sessions. View All Images





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