Mangalore: Meet amateur cyclist Abhishek Kumar Sharma hailing from Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and professional cyclist Norbert “Nobbie” D’souza from Kadri, Mangalore (DK). While the former who is not a professional cyclist but had taken a cycle journey travelling through India to promote PM Modi’s “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ had reached Mangalore after completing nearly 11,000 kms, while the latter during his younger days had bicycled from Mangaluru to Delhi, covering nearly 5000 kms in just 11 days and one hour in the year 1977. Both these cyclists had close encounters with each other when they were both introduced by Team Mangalorean.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” had said Albert Einstein- and both these cyclists have great passion for cycling that they have enjoyed this hobby by pedalling for fun and glory, and this sport has kept them moving in their lives. Norbert had passion for cycling since his younger days, he recalls saying that when he was only 12 years old, he stole his father’s bicycle to participate in a 23-km cycling contest from BC Road to Mangaluru. cycling barefoot- and guess what, he won the contest in the year 1964. “I remember my first achievement well, as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru passed away on the same day,” said D’Souza, who later went on to win championships at the district, state and even national levels.
“Spending nearly an hour with this extraordinary cyclist, I have gained so much knowledge about cycling, and I will cherish this moment for the rest of my life” says Abhishek after receiving some tips on cycling from Pro-cyclist Norbert D’Souza. Explaining some basic tips while cycling, D’souza said, ” Road riding is a great outdoor fitness activity. But it requires some cycling savvy – and some basic safety smarts. Learning to ride a bike is one of childhood’s rites of passage. And they say that once you learn, you never forget. But just because you knew how to steer a Atlas or Fieldstar in grade school doesn’t mean you’re going to be entirely comfortable hitting the road as an adult cyclist, particularly if it means riding in city traffic”.
“Getting into fitness or competitive cycling can be intimidating for many adults who haven’t ridden seriously in a while. But don’t let that keep you out of the saddle. All you really need is a refresher course on some basic street-cycling skills — including the ins and outs of bicycle safety. Driving a car is second nature to most of us, but on a bike, the road suddenly seems different: Which lane should we be in — to ride and to turn? At which intersections do we have to stop? For the most part, the rules for riding a bike are the same as for driving a car. But there’s one important caveat: When it comes to right-of-way, cyclists should never assume they have it, even if, by all rights and regulations, they do. Why? Because when rules get broken, the consequences are almost always far more grave for the person on the bike. Who cares if you have to wait an extra 30 seconds for that bus/car/truck to clear the intersection? Better slowed and safe than right and wrecked” added D’Souza.
“Riding well also takes experience in a variety of different riding circumstances and a healthy dose of common sense. Cycling short or long distance without any real degree of experience can be dangerous. Many people don’t prepare properly. Nobody wants to talk about cycling safety, but far more should be said about its importance. Practice clipping in and out of your pedals, hopping on and off your seat, balancing, starting, stopping and cornering at various speeds before you make your way out into traffic. Do wear a helmet. Signal your intentions and make eye contact with motorists before you assume they’ve seen you. Watch for dogs, joggers and parked motorists who might fling open their car doors. Ride as though every other vehicle is out to get you. If you think you’re immune to the potential dangers of biking just because you are a cautious rider, think again. Because, there are two types of cyclists: those who have crashed and those who will crash.” That said, there’s plenty you can do to ward off avoidable dangers. So the best way to stay safe, follow the traffic rules like other motorists” advised Norbert.
” Now taking care of your bike- Nobody wants to look like a doofus while doing his or her fitness thing. But biking can have its awkward moments. Here are some pointers to get you pedaling like a pro: Maintain the chain. Those new to cycling are often easily spotted by the telltale imprint of chain grease across the back of their right calf. Avoiding chain contact when you swing out of the pedals isn’t hard, but if your chain derails while you’re changing gears, you’ll probably get greased. The best way to prevent chain derailment from happening is to shift to a smaller sprocket on the front chain rings before you “use up” all the gears in back. In fact, sometimes you can get the chain back on simply by shifting back to the big chain ring and pedaling a couple of strokes. If that doesn’t work and the chain falls off, stop the bike, move the left gearshift to its lowest position, and place the chain back on the smallest sprocket wheel. Pressing the derailleur pulley forward will take tension off the chain, allowing you to reset it”
“Reach your braking point. Jerking to a stop feels as bad as it looks. Test your brakes so you understand just exactly how much pressure you need to apply to slow down or to stop. The lever on the right handlebar controls the back brake; the left controls the front. Unless you want to flip over your handlebars, never squeeze down solely on the front brake. This is especially important to remember when you need to reduce your speed going downhill. To come to a controlled stop, squeeze the right (back) brake and then, if more braking is needed, apply the left (front) brake. Before each ride, check your brake pads. Worn pads should be replaced. Also make sure there is just enough room between the pad and the wheel rim so it doesn’t rub either the metal rim or the tire, yet it catches quickly when engaged.”
In conclusion, Norbert said, “Protect your bike-Bikes are common targets for thieves, so keep yours properly locked when you’re not riding. Your local bike shop can recommend a lock and show you the proper way to use it. Sometimes, however, a bike’s worst enemy is its owner-always use your common sense where you park your bicycle. And most importantly-safety starts with a well-maintained bike. Before each ride, give yours a thorough visual check. Confirm that the handlebars and seat are tight. Pump the tires with air; test your brakes, pedals and chain. A helmet is essential to safety, and it’s also smart to wear brightly colored clothing, lights or reflective tape (even in daylight). Make sure you pack tools and supplies for minor repairs, bring some form of identification, and always carry water or other fluid replacement. Have a happy cycle riding-it’s fun and benefits your health”. These cycling tips by D’souza not only gained knowledge for Abhishek, but also our readers can benefit our readers who love to bicycle or want to start this cycling hobby.
Now looking into the cycling background of Norbert D’souza, in 1974, he had won the State-level cycling championship and covered a distance of 44 miles in just two hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds. He was also the Mumbai-Khandala (Pune) cycling champion for three consecutive years in the ’70s. However, in 1970, he finished third in the national-level championship in Haryana, as almost all the other contestants rode gear bicycles, while Norbert tried to keep up in his ordinary bicycle. He also missed a chance in the Asian Games in 1974 as he did not have a bicycle of his own to participate in the coaching camp in Haryana.
Norbert recalls that his greatest achievement was when he covered 5,000 km, from Mangaluru to Delhi and back, in just 11 days and one hour, in 1977. The previous record was held by a German who had taken 12 days and two hours to cover 5,000 km. He tells us that the rally was organised by Fieldstar Cycle Company and a jeep followed him till Delhi and back. Even those in the jeep found it difficult to drive behind him as he rode for 16 to 18 hours or more in a day, he added. His passion for cycling came to an abrupt end when he met with an accident in 1977 that left him with multiple fractures.
He then continued a profession in tailoring and even worked in Chicago-USA for two years as a tailor between 1990 and 1992. Although I had not met Nobbie in Chicago while I was there, but I was closely associated with his brothers-Austin, Stany, Felix and his sister Quinnee, who are active members of Indian Catholic Association-Chicago, and also “Mangalore Konkani Catholic Association-Chicago”- where I too was a member. Though Norbert was growing old, his passion for cycling burned within, and recalling his early life, he says that there were days when he had to struggle to get nutritious food.
His dream to own the best bicycles was realised when he bought two in May 2010. One was the US-made Trek Madone 5.2 racing cycle which cost him Rs 2.3 lakh, along with additional costs, including the mechanic’s travel cost who flew to Mangaluru from Mumbai just to assemble it. The bicycle made of carbon fibre weighs just six kg. The second cycle is also by Trek, but made in China, for which he paid Rs 1.5 lakh. A second shock shattered D’Souza when he suffered a stroke on June 18, 2011, a year after he bought the bicycles. Now, D’Souza plans to donate both his bicycles (with all the additional kits), valued at over Rs 4.5 lakh. His only condition being “the person should be a promising cyclist from a poor background, who can’t afford to buy such bicycles.”
When asked Abhishek Sharma about his interaction with Norbert “Nobbie” D’Souza, overwhelmingly he replied saying, “Among thousands of cyclists that I have met during this cycle yatra, this man is indeed a extraordinary cyclist and a very knowledgeable and professional cyclist- no doubt about it. I feel sad to note that D’souza took a wrong advice from his friends who gave him a medicine prescription which unfortunately led him to suffer from stroke. His passion for cycling has kept him happy and healthy, and I am really impressed by his healthy lifestyle-his diet and his exercise by pedalling on his compact exercise (cycling) machine. His has devoted and sacrificed most of his life towards cycling, and all his achievements in cycling were through his own funds without any any help from the government, organizations or general public. His passion for cycling has impressed me as lot, and I am determined to follow in his footsteps to become a professional cyclist. And I would love to meet Norbert sir again if I get a chance to visit Mangaluru, a place where I met friendly and very courteous people. I thank Team mangalorean for giving me a chance to meet this extra-ordinary person-Norbert D’souza-may God bless him”.
Although Norbert had publicised about giving away his two bicycles few months back, he says until now he hasn’t find the right person to donate them. So anyone of you out there who is a promising cyclist, has a passion for cycling and determination to achieve success in cycling give us a call at (Mangalorean.com) : 0824-4252851, 7204433635, 8123768133- and we will connect you to Norbert D’souza.