I will begin with a quote I read somewhere: Cycling doesn’t add days to my life’ I do it to add life to my days. I’d like to give due credit to the person who said this – cycling has transformed my life completely.
I have been cycling actively for almost 3 years now, I feel like a new me – truly alive, aware of the nature, my surroundings and of course, I met a healthier me. It’s as if I have found a new purpose – my true calling. So, the unhealthy and stressful life when I was spending 18 hours on my desk, is behind me, now.
I’m penning down my thoughts in this article as I know that there are many CXOs out there, working their heads off day and night – just like I did till a few years back. But, my friends, that’s not life. That’s not what life is about – it’s not just work, work & work. I am not going to preach you or anything, but rather would invite you to read this article through to know how cycling has helped me be the best version of myself (CYCLIST MUNESH V1.1 :)) – relax, it’s just 10 minutes read. I hope you’ll find it worth your time.
When I was a young 6-7 years old kid, I used to wonder, why God gave wings only to birds and not us, I too wanted to fly high, feel the freedom. As I grew up, I got my first bicycle and then I realized, cycling is as close to flying as possible – you feel free, your mind feels free and your spirits take flight.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s early morning or late evening, if I am riding a bike, I know I can survive anywhere, overcome obstacles, emerge a winner.”
1. My initial days – cycle set the momentum in my childhood
Back to the story, my first introduction to the bicycle was when I was a young lad. My father, a schoolteacher in a village in Bayana, a small town in the Bharatpur region, in Rajasthan, India, used to take me to my school and to the market on his cycle. While I sat in front, my sister sat at the back of my father’s cycle. In Indian villages, a small straddle is fixed on the cycles to make a place for a small kid to sit in.
I don’t have a snap of back then, but here’s a picture that I got from Google. It resembles our setup a lot.
Then, I outgrew that small seat and my father got a very regular, small, red-colored second-hand bicycle for me as we were not very rich back then. I remember being on cloud nine at that time and I started riding it to school in my 5th grade. I used to ride it to school till I reached my 8th grade. I was so fond of this first bicycle of mine that I learned all about its mechanics – I changed tires myself, did the punctures, cleaned it, maintained it, and even serviced it on all Sundays.
I also used to ride it to bring some small stuff from the market etc. Then, in 10th grade, my school changed as we wanted to avail better educational facilities. I got a second bike, again a second-hand one; it was not a good professional grade bike, but I managed with it, somehow. The roads were also not like today’s smooth roads and I used to ride 15KMS (9.32Miles) almost daily.
The passion for cycling took root there itself. I realized that for me, no bicycle translates to no life.
The scenic village that I explored cycling beside my father in those days, remains etched in my memories even today. It seems like I was in a different dimension back then.
After the village school, I joined college for my graduate studies in Bayana. Since it was far from my village, I and my brother used to stay in a rented accommodation. Here again, I used to ride my bicycle to college every day.
I remember an incident quite vividly. One day, there was a downpour, a torrential one, and the roads that connected Bayana to my village got swept off in heavy rainwater. I had to travel back to the village that day as exams had got over and we had given up the accommodation.
That day, for the first time, I rode 40 KMS (24.8548 Miles) approximately – a big thing, considering the quality of the bike, the roads, and my physical challenges- my right leg has only 30% strength as compared to my left leg. But this has never stopped me – in cycling or in the corporate world.
After all, the more challenging the struggle, the sweeter is the victory. Isn’t it?
2. Settling in the Corporate World – no time for cycling days
I’ll keep this section shortest for my sake.
From Bayana, I shifted to Jaipur for my higher studies. But during my days in the college, in 4th semester, I realized that this is all theory. I wanted to gain real-world knowledge. I started my hosting business and ZNet Technologies started taking shape while cycling faded away in the backdrop.
With Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner, Microsoft
This was the time I spent as all other CEOs. Life runs past the CXOs. We eat, sleep, and do all our activities with business and expansion as the topmost priority in our minds. I was no different. I used to eat and sleep at irregular hours and with my regular globetrotting, there was no time for family or hobbies. During this time, my business was uphill, and my mood was downhill.
Soon, my health started taking a nosedive. Even when I was awake and working, I felt that my energy levels were low. Somewhere down the line, I started missing the sunny days, the breeze on my face, the enthusiasm, and energy that I felt when I rode my bicycle. I wanted to feel free again.
After 19 very successful years in business, I decided it was time, I should do something for myself as well. Life should have something more to offer – I had the success, money, power, happiness, but I wanted more from it – the meaning of my being…
3. The awakening – cycling revives me
And then, I took my first step towards what I think is my meditation, after so many years. Yes, you guessed it right! I decided to start cycling and so, bought a Hercules cycle. My first 6 to 8 months were the hardest, finding out time for a revived hobby, even for riding 5 to 6 KMS, was a challenge. But I persevered and started going out all alone – with my thoughts keeping me the company.
Then I decided I should get into this seriously. I deserve my share of happiness. So, I bought my first professional-grade off-road and on-road bike – a Cannondale Trail 4.
Then I started joining other people who shared my passion for bicycling. I joined a Vaishali Nagar, Jaipur, India, based group.
Things started taking a very positive turn and I started riding 50 KMS (31.06 MILES) or more daily. There are many benefits to joining different cycling groups:
– We learn a lot from each other
– The importance of security – security gear is an essential part of riding in a group – you got to wear a helmet.
– We motivate each other during the long rides
– We keep updated about gear, bikes, and the latest in cycling as a sport
– It’s a lot more enjoyable than riding solo.
Now, I have a totally different routine. It takes nearly three good morning hours to get ready and go riding for two hours. So, I get up every day at 4:00 AM as, by 5:00 AM, the ride begins.
But as the CEO of ZNet, I must take care of my official responsibilities as well. And, as most of my colleagues would agree, morning is the best and only time for setting the tone of the day for us. So, I started utilizing my ride time to the fullest by listening to audiobooks.
I consider my time best invested this way as I am able to learn something new daily by listening to audiobooks – they add up to 25-30 hours in a month. I use Blinkist, LinkedIn Learning platform, and more. I have completed 128 book blinks by now.
I plan to write an article on that as well, soon 😉
Sometimes, I listen to songs to refresh my mood. Morning, I feel, is the best time to learn. I plan my day and weeks beforehand so that I get time for everything.
There are various benefits that cycling has helped me gain:
– I daily learn something new, as stated above
– It is a good exercise for the complete body – my stamina has increased
– My stress levels have reduced – I feel energetic and refreshed throughout the day, I don’t get irritated anymore
– I get to see the most unexplored places – the nature is so so rich in India
– I get to make new friends
– I increased my concentration power and focus – when you ride continuously for 100 KMS in 4 hours, you learn to focus
This has made me realize that you need to think big, when you keep a big target, that’s out of your reach, you get the maximum satisfaction on achieving it and then other things become smaller in comparison.
This, I apply in business as well. I keep my targets bigger, and I have realized that my achievement is always bigger.
Now my partner – Sabarinathan Sampath, SVP & COO, ZNet Technologies, has also joined cycling. It has become a joint passion for us. We push each other to the limit. Sometimes, when I feel tired and decide to give it a go, he motivates me. Sometimes, I do, when he is not feeling up to it.
This shared passion is very important that helps keep us grounded. We don’t want to miss riding even a single day, now. Although, we take a day off because as per medical practitioners, it’s necessary to take a break from exercising and one shouldn’t do it on all days.