'Motor-less' Cycle Diaries
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
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
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