Remember the time when we would cycle all the way to school and be excited about the fact that when we grow up we will upgrade to our own motor vehicle – a car or a bike. Well, 63-year-old Suresh Mane felt differently about it and did the opposite. After retiring from his job, Suresh sold his two-wheeler, gave away his car and bought a bicycle to fulfill his childhood dream. And to be able to ride the cycle every day, he even enrolled in a college. Suresh not only started cycling after retirement but also trained himself for an expedition and completed it in record-breaking time of 28 days. Is this something you hear every day?
HappyAging met the energetic 63-year-old Suresh Umakant Mane who has such vim and vigour for life, to learn how he utilized his post-retirement period to fulfill his childhood dreams and make the most out of it.
The Bucket List
Suresh Mane is 63-year-old ex-air force personnel, who worked as an administrative officer with the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation for several years. He lives in Pune with his wife. Six months prior to his retirement in 2015, Mane started preparing for his post-retirement life. He first made a bucket list with 46 wishes he held close to his heart. All the things he craved for as a child were part of this wish list. From buying new clothes to learning cycling and swimming and pursuing higher education, he added every desire he had onto this list. In the last 3 years, he successfully achieved 12 of his wishes, which also included helping his wife doing domestic chores right after the day he retired.
The First Step
When Suresh decided to start cycling, he did small sessions of cycling to his college, where he was pursuing his master’s degree. Little did he know that he would come across a group of cyclists who were planning to do Kashmir to Kanyakumari expedition shortly. Mane, then 61-year-old, insisted on trying him out so he could also join them. Others in his group were way too younger than him and have had a lot of experience in riding long distances. However, seeing Suresh’s determination, they agreed to take him along.
Their first tour was the Ashtavinayak Temple yatra on cycle, which means visiting the eight celebrated Ganesha temples around Pune in Maharashtra. Mane joined the group. He felt like giving up in the beginning, but soon picked the pace and gained the confidence to finish the trip.
To boost confidence in himself, he also did a solo-trip on cycle from Pune to Dharwad carrying 12 Kgs of luggage, where, on the way he met his two daughters who live in Karnataka.
The Age and Medical Condition
Suresh has had two Hernia and a spine operation with 60 stiches on his back. Looking at his age and medical history, his family doctor had cautioned him about pursuing cycling. But later his physiotherapist who himself was a cyclist encouraged him and gave him teh confidence to take up the sport in full spirit.
Upon hearing about his wishes, at first Mane’s wife wasn’t very sure about his cycling plans, but she soon got along and started supporting him. Suresh, who is also an active trekker, took his wife to Gaumukh trek, one of the most difficult treks in North India. His wife was the only woman to be on that trek with him. They completed the trek together and returned with an increased zest for life. She extends unconditional support to her husband.
They have three supportive daughters. Two of them live with their families in Karnataka and one stays with her family in Pune. Mane’s son-in-law who lives in Pune is also a cycling enthusiast and has done a similar expedition in the past. He too is very supportive of his father-in-law’s escapades. The Mane family not only supports Suresh, but also feels very proud of his achievements.
While preparing for the Kashmir to Kanyakumari cycling excursion, Mane and his fellow-cyclists were advised to watch their weight and were strictly told to abide by a vegetarian diet once on the trip. Their breakfast included parathas with ghee or butter, followed by dal-rice or curd-rice in their meals. They avoided any oily intake. They were asked to stay hydrated and were explained about how to use a wet cloth on their head to keep themselves cool while riding in the hot sun.
The expedition started on 24th November and the group sent their cycles to Jammu by train. The food and lodging arrangements for the expedition were done by Swami Vivekananda Trust. The group had to follow the same path that Swami Vivekanand had followed during Bharat Yatra, walking from Kashmir to Kanykumari. Apart from adjusting to the changing temperatures from North to South and a dehydration episode that a fellow cyclist had, the mission went smooth for the group. Suresh and his group finished cycled the 4000 KM long distance in 28 days.
An elated Suresh told us that he now plans to cycle from Chandigarh to Khardungla Leh-Ladakh this year. He also plans to touch contours from East to West or vice versa soon. Observing that most cycling groups have more number of youngsters, Suresh also wants to build a community of 60+ cyclists who can take up these expeditions and follow their heart like he did.
When most people take retirement as a sign of slowing down, Suresh Mane is a fine example of an undeterred spirit who has followed his passion despite age. He is giving major fitness goals to not just older adults, but many youngsters too. HappyAging whole-heartedly wishes Suresh Mane in his pursuit of accomplishing all his desires from his bucket list and salutes his spirit.
“All you need to know is that it’s possible.” – Wolf