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Stories of Riders : Vince Costa

Amidst pouring rain, internet outages and rising covid cases, I spent day after day cooped up in a dingy outhouse with little light staring into my computer screen. I was bit by the "Fixie" bug. Instagram can be your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time. Here I was checking image after image, imagining my Fixie someday.

I must have been close to nine years when a large cardboard box showed up at home one night. A very generous couple had gifted me a BMXish type of cycle. It stayed with me till I was fifteen, and when I was done with it, it was a very different cycle to one I had received. We had both undergone a sea of change.

What is a cycle anyway? Two wheels, some pedals to propel it, brakes to stop, and a frame made of some metal to hold it together. Oh, and a seat to make the whole thing as enjoyable as possible. Sometimes when I contemplate the very simplicity of this orchestration, I'm left dumbfounded at the profound way these few components can affect some of us so deeply.

"Kent", made in Taiwan. To a nine-year-old boy, Taiwan was a cool word to be used amongst friends. "My cycle is made in Taiwan", I would declare proudly, not knowing where it was geographically or that it was the epicentre of the cycle manufacturing industry. The creme coloured cycle with a coaster brake was unique—way ahead of its time in my locality. People would be puzzled and concerned that I was riding around with no visible brakes. In a few months, I had mastered the coaster brake, a quick flick backwards, and I could do all sorts of things, from bringing it to a sudden stop to sliding around the place. Over the years, we became inseparable and a formidable pair. Even though the cycle wasn't built for gravel terrain, I would punish it through the most rigorous tracks—Uphills, narrow trails and in and around the dry rice fields. I wanted to mimic the BMX bandits. If only I could pull a wheelie or a stoppie, oh heaven. I managed both decently but not wholly. All these activities come with a warning, and one fine day, I fractured my wrist. My parents called me incorrigible and stubborn because I was back on the bike with a cast in a few days.