Archana Sheshagiri was about to leave for TFN when we connected with her. Tour of Nilgiris (TFN), one of the most challenging and the longest Cycle Tour Event in India that attracts cyclist from across the country and outside too.
What better time to chat with her as she embarked on yet another cycling adventure and listen to her recount her beautiful journey for us, about the thrills of following your heart and passion. We believe that these are the stories that need to be told for all those women out there who are just one doubt away from realizing what makes them come alive.
On being asked to share a little about herself, Archana quoted beautifully, “I choose dangerous freedom over safe slavery”, as she went on to describe how she let go of her corporate jobs at companies like Infosys and Capgemini, to go with her passion of being a biker. An engineer in electronics and communications, Archana now works at “BumsOnTheSaddle” (aka BOTS) as she pursues her dream, and seems to be enjoying every moment of her day out in the sun, unlike when she sat at her desk in a closed office.
Archana’s journey into the biking world is the most endearing, which if you are a Bangalorean, can completely relate to. Like any true blue Bangalorean, she is completely in love with her city which you can read in her words, in which she describes how she started of in the city, on cycle day. (http://theignitedheart2014.blogspot.in/2014/08/the-ignited-heart.html?m=1) First with a rental and then with her childhood gift, the famous “Ladybird”. She subsequently moved on to a geared bike, until she owned her very own. There has been no looking back since. Only many long winding roads that has been very aptly termed, “bliss in the hills”.
Her longest ride is 665 kms with adventures along the way. Archana has a way of reporting her rides which is said best when quoted directly. On being asked about her best and challenging ride, she narrated the following, “My best ride so far has been the Kudremukha ride this year. What started as a 1200km brevet attempt, due to sleep deprivation I opted out on the next morning and slept for 20 hours straight after having ridden from Bangalore to Belur. Once I woke up, we decided to take a different route from the Bliss in the hills route since we had already done the most of it the previous year. We rode from Belur to Kalasa to Kudremukha. As we entered Kudremukha range, the rains nearly slashed us. We managed to stay in Kudremukh for the night, did the Karanjil peak trek the next morning and then we realized that we had no cash left and had to go 25km to find an ATM. We somehow managed the situation and rode to Mangalore the next morning.”
He stories reflected on her strength and positive will as she went on, “In 2014 , I had just started cycling and was completely blown by the bliss in the hills route and decided to attempt it. At around 400km, 10:30pm in the night, I was stuck in the Periya forest range in Kerala. I was with one other person and we had missed reaching the control point in time. A lorry that passed by offered help but I was too determined to do on the bicycle. It was a 20km climb, we had had no dinner and were drained off energy and simply couldn't climb anymore. Every other leaf and structure looked like an elephant! We decided to turn back and rode the downhill. Thankfully found a church at the base of the hill where we spent the night. The next morning, we were woken up by the sisters who were kind enough to offer us room to freshen up. We started riding towards Mysore next morning and took a bus from Mysore to Bangalore. I've had quite a few bison encounters during my rides, super close calls, where the bison locked eyes with and was ready to charge. Thankfully we were saved each time by the act of God. “
Archana is a great example of someone who does what she loves and loves what she does. Her activities extend to trekking on weekends and long distance marathons. She has run the Javadhu hill ultra (after cycling to the location), which was a 50 km run besides the TRORT and the Bangalore Marathon. You can imagine the enthusiasm she has for her life when you encounter her words in which describes each hill, as if she speaks of her best friend.
She also told us about some interesting discoveries and trips, and we share here her direct words, “During the start of this year, we found out that there's a hill near Salem which has 72+ hairpin bends to reached the top. We rode to this place - Kolli Malai and it was one of the best rides as we rode nonstop to the top. My ride partner and I are quite obsessed with the climbs and elevation gain. This year we have covered around 10 new climbs that include Kolli Malai, Yercaud, Kuppanur, Yelagiri, Periya, Boys Town, Madikeri, Mandalpatti, Kalahatti, Kalpetta - Gudalur, Gudalur - Ooty, Mettupalyam - Ooty, Manjoor, Valparai, Devarayandurga.”
On her next milestone beyond TFN, she says "I'm looking at a non event driven year and more of a self driven, strength and flexibility based improvements for 2017."
Archana’s message for women who want to take up riding is simple. She believes, all you need to do is, get out there and ride. Think positive, strong, and safe with no inhibitions or hesitations and have a great time. The perfect advise for all aspiring bikers.
Lastly to all the women out there who are on the precipice of following your passion, quoting Archana Sheshagiri, “You are a symbol of strength courage and freedom, when in doubt, go back to the moment when you made the decision of following your passion, that moment is the source of energy and clarity.” So take the plunge!
Signing off, Oya – Own your Attitude