Unsung Heroes

Yentha Heroes are not necessarily celebrities. Our hero is a person who brings a smile to our lives or who makes a difference in our neighbourhood. Suggest a hero and Yentha will do the rest. Trust us. Do you know anybody like this? Or a story waiting to be told?
   
 
'Motor-less' Cycle Diaries

The unsung heroes of  Yentha are those whose good deeds are not appreciated enough. What is special about these heroes is the fact that they do not seek appreciation either. Their good deeds give them the morale boost to carry on. Our hero today is no different.

C D Francis captained the 'Kerala Cycle Tour' team which started its journey on 16 September from Kasargod. Seven days later the team reached Trivandrum on Septemer 22. The team members varied through the different sections of the 657 km journey; but one man rode through it all, through the rains and the sun, through the  pot-holed highways and the curvy valleys, for the entire stretch – team captain C D Francis. After knowing all this about him the image you have in your mind about him takes a drastic hit when he reveals his job – a lineman in KSEB.

 

 

 

“I joined KSEB in 2004. An injury at the job laid me out for a couple of months. Even as I recovered, my back remained sore. The doctor treating me told me that I had to regain my strength through exercises; but I couldn't lift weights with the condition that my back was in. He advised me to take up swimming or cycling. Swimming pools aren't that common in my village, and so I took up cycling.”

That was not actually the beginning for him. C D Francis actually loved cycling through his village roads ever since he was a child. But the transformation of a mere pass time into an essential tool to regain his strength gave cycling a special place in the heart of Francis. His reasons for liking this sport are both imaginative and factual.

“There is something special about cycling through the early morning air. The feel of cool breeze through you sweating skin does wonders for your mind. I cycle 20 km to my job every morning. That makes me feel very fresh and active for the rest of the day.”

And at the same time, he also speaks about the bigger picture that he is trying to create for the sake of a better future.

 

 

 

“Using  cycles we can do a lot to preserve the fossil fuels from getting exhausted and we need to do it for our children, other wise the day will come when they will turn to us and call us selfish. Burning lesser fossil fuels certainly means a much cleaner atmosphere. And cycling also helps a great deal with the mental stability of a person.”

For a man who spends a considerable amount of his time atop a cycle, Francis sure does know how the mere act of cycling could improve the mind-frame of a person.

“Cycling itself is an act of balancing. And that is the true act of balancing, unlike with a motorcycle. For a motorcycle a meagre balance is enough to stay on its two wheels because you are hardly moving your body while riding it. That balance does get reflected with how you deal with things in life. Cycling needs quick reflexes and that makes you a quick thinker. Cycling requires you to have real stamina and a tremendous amount of patience.”

 

 

 

Such is Francis’ faith in cycling that when he chose a life partner the only virtue he looked for in the girl was whether she liked cycling or not!

And Francis feels quite saddened by the attitude of f the vast majority that shies away from cycling, thinking it too arduous or unglamorous. “They seems to have lost all their power of perception. They say it is to save time that they rush past in motorcycles or cars through the clogged city streets to their offices or colleges. A good cycle can easily do at 40 km/hr which is the average speed of motor vehicles inside the city, no matter how hard they step on the accelerator and how often. And then think of the additional weight it puts on your pocket. Fuel prices are blowing up through the roofs and yet they prefer a ride costing them a hefty sum, through the smoke filled air, hardly moving a muscle, to their offices or classrooms, when cycling provides them with a much cheaper, more efficient and way more healthier choice.”

His journey of 657 kilometers, which he covered in 35 hours and 56 minutes of cycling time, as part of the 'Kerala Cycle Tour' was the realisation of a long cherished dream for  Francis.

“I had asked my officers to let me do something like this to spread the message of energy conservation among people three years ago. Not a word of it has been mentioned till now. So when the 'Energyy Conservation Society' approached me with the Kerala Cycle Tour, naturally I was excited.”

No talk about a journey is complete without sharing experiences. Francis too shares a few.

“The roads – you think yours are bad? Then you really need to take a look at the highways, that lie north to Kozhikode. It can't even be called a road; just a spread of metal on the surface, that's it. But even then, the trip was very enjoyable. I got to see different kinds of people and through them the different dialects of Malayalam that's spoken in our land. Then there is this peculiar smell attached to each place. The smell of the soil of Trivandrum is vastly different and easily distinguishable from that of Kollam or Alapuzha.”

For Francis, the lack of popularity for cycling among the current generation has more to do with their own laziness than anything else.

“In our time, we were the ones who had to create our own opportunities and work for them. But now, the youngsters have opportunities lavished on them from every direction.   So even a walk of a few minutes isn't possible for him and prefers to ride there  on a motorbike. Every excuse they come up is hollow, as the truth lies in the fact that they have got used to being lazy.”

 

 

 

 

At 36 years, Francis certainly does not nurse any dreams of making it big in the field of sport cycling, nor does he think doing a 'Kerala Cycle Tour' is going to gain him fame and fortune. This KSEB lineman from Thrissur has other reaons for the ride he has made.

“I believe that cycling is the way for presenting the future generation with a better future. And I want to spread that message as wide as possible. Every one of our lives are lived with worth only when we contribute something toothers. Spreading this message is my contribution to the society.” he says.

The seven days it took to ride from Kasargod to Trivandrum were the most relished days of Francis's life. And his aspirations have gone higher after the experience.

“Someday, god willing, with a proper back up and finance, I would like to do something like this, touring around the entire nation. That would be a dream come true for me.”

He made it sound like the dream lay somewhere far deep inside thi grasps of uncertainty, but judging by the will of this man as proved by his tenacious ride across the length of the state in the rain, sun, dust and soot, to make his life worth living, it seems like a certainty awaiting the right time to turn into reality. 


By Mukesh Venu

 
Posted By : Deepa, On Sep 28, 2011 10:41:33 PM
 
 
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Kudos to the man and his spirit! I too think of taking up cycling, but it requires lot of willpower to overcome the inertia. Though I have done lot of cycling in my younger days, now the road conditions also puts you off! Probably with a geared cycle, Trivandrum roads can be conquered!
Srikanth NS, on Oct 01, 2011 07:49:32 PM
 
 
Team Yentha too urges its readers to take cycling as a better alternative for city commuting. Thank you for making such a relevant comment.
Team Yentha, on Oct 03, 2011 02:40:18 PM
 
 
Great going Francis, I could read it only today. Looking forward to our All India trip.
Venu, on Oct 05, 2011 09:44:23 AM
 
 
 
thanks for yentha for publishing stories like this. Main stream media always ignore alternate stories.
Prakash, on Oct 06, 2011 08:11:17 PM
 
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