Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Calm Alert

Reena Ginawala
Reena Ginwala is all about taking life as it comes: between helping people reflect based on Indian philosophy and traditional wisdom on the one hand, and investing in gardening, cycling and travelling. Here’s a conversation with her.
This post is part of a series of interviews with ABBF’s InSync Tandem Cycling Ride.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are your likes, dislikes, hobbies, passions and hopes and dreams?
I am a woman, 56 years old, a mother of 3 daughters age 32, 26 and 25 years. I like meeting people from different walks of life. I love train journeys and listening to Kabir folk music – I dislike hypocrisy, corruption, meaningless and exclusive development, violence and lack of safety for all. My passion and hobbies are to create tool kits for personal reflection based on India philosophy and traditional wisdom, gardening, cycling and travelling. I hope that the world will be peaceful and joyful someday. People will learn to share, be sustainable and honour our earth and the natural resources. I dream that people will not function from fear or greed but rather thrive from celebrating inter-dependence and mutual respect for all species on our planet.

Tell us about your journey into cycling. Can you tell us a little about your training? What was your journey like? 
Since early 2017, I have been in a harvest mode… My daughters are in their fields of passion, engaging deeply and authentically with their job, impacting society and the world in their field – Art Curation, Adventure Therapy and Veterinary Practices … With the youngest also graduating and standing on her own feet, I decided to focus on my fitness and aspirations. My daughter Tanya had been part of the support team with ABBF on their Tandem ride from Manali to Khardungla in 2016 and was taking groups this August so I decided to take the plunge and register. First I thought I could be part of the support team but my daughter encouraged me to start cycling and register as a participant. It was a perfect gentle nudge that I needed. In June, I bought a helmet and a cycle and started cycling, doing balancing asanas, pranayam and some strengthening and stretching exercises. Soon 5 km became an easy 20 km and in the next month, I did a 95 km ride along tricky slopes to Lavasa Dam. It took me 8 hours to cycle slowly and rest for 1.5 hours in intervals but the fact that I could sit on a cycle for 8 hours out of 9.5 hours was something that was unbelievable for me. This boosted my confidence and love for cycling. I fell a few times and learnt about my tricky spots and took guidance from the ABBF team to practice certain techniques of balancing, getting off the cycle suddenly, managing potholes and gravel while cycling etc. I have a realistic sense about my abilities and limits now and am keen to make a good attempt to cycle as much as I can during M2K2017.

You're all set to do something amazing with the ride from Manali to Khardung La! How do you feel about it? What is your special training regiment like? 
I am in a ‘Calm Alert’ state since the last few months. We will all maintain a high level of self responsibility and take calculated risks so that the best that is possible happens on such adventures many things are uncertain and the risks are real. A constant effort on dissolving our fears and egos is a must along with empathy and mindfulness. Our training regiment is as much a physical, emotional and mental journey. We need to cycle regularly and try different inclines, gears, work on cadence, rhythm, breathing and balance. We also need to respect our body and give it rest and appropriate food. Self Care is the priority. It feels good to be connected and grateful to my body while following this regime.

Can you tell us a little about your family? What do they think about the new amazing thing you're about to do?
I am a single parent. I have 3 daughters and a mix breed dog in my family. Tanya works with ABBF and is in the core team organizing this expedition. My other two daughters are in New Zealand and Colombo. They are very happy that I am doing this and preparing for something that I have not done before. They are quite confident and reassured that Tanya and I will take care of each other and other team members too will work together as a team. They think I am ready for this!!

What have your personal challenges been? How have / do you work to overcome them? What inspires you?

Discipline and consistency have been challenges for me since I long time. I have been able to overcome them to some extent as I practiced and exercised over the last 2.5 months. I am vegetarian and a bit overweight so eating right and consciously has also been an important aspect of my preparation. I do eat more proteins and sleep more regular hours, I also wake up early take naps during the day when needed. I am more tuned in with my body. There is much gratitude, responsibility and care for it now. I am aware of the need to improve my balance so I do some yogasanas and stretching exercises that help. There are cramps and specific pains that indicate tightness and misalignment that I need to look into. I have also watched videos on youtube and taken help from my friends who are into cycling since a long time. I fell down 3 times on a particular day when I attempted a long ride. The first fall within the first 45 minutes, was when I slipped in a pothole filled with water and hit my head on the road and bruised my elbow. It did not deter me. I cycled 95 kms in the hilly terrain outside Pune – to Lavasa dam from 6 am to 3.40 pm It took me much longer than others and I was almost on my own that day … in the rains with a young IT engineer cycling the critical terrain from Pirangut to Lavasa Dam wall alongside. I did feel overwhelmed about making it back the 45 km on my own as he went ahead with his friends but took a grip of myself and took away the pressure of reaching well in time. A conversation with Tanya to share my feelings of overwhelm and fear of falling helped as she reassured me and offered to pick me up when I felt it was enough. What helps is that I have conversations with myself constantly and do not feel alone. I also seek help if needed, do not have any ego issues or hesitation about that. I inspire ‘ME’ – with humility and self respect. I listen to music by Kabir, Shiva chants and Indian Ocean to fill me with courage and inspiration.