With Mother's day closer than not, we at Hobbyists World couldn't think of a better star hobbyist that Gul Panag. Though she has several feathers in her hat, her love for bikes is known far and wide, and with her little tot at her hip, she got candid with us about how her love for so many hobbies started, and how she's cultivating the same interests in her own son.
Why do you think it's important to have a hobby, for adults and kids alike?
You need a certain amount of focus to have a hobby, and that always comes back to you in life, it makes you realise that you have to have some amount of discipline to pursue it. It's also de-stressing, helps with time management and brings something to your day to day life, perspective.
I think if children are introduced to good habits at a young age, it becomes a part of their lives. They learn to incorporate things into their day to day living, regardless of what someone else may think of it. To pick up things as an adult, because you're so stressed you're having a mental breakdown, to seek something as an intervention when things are going wrong, is much harder than when it's already a part of your life. It's like brushing your teeth before cavities happen, rather than starting to brush your teeth only when you realise you have way too many cavities. Introducing children to habits that will benefit them in the short term, and long term, is always a good idea.
How were you introduced to biking?
A lot of the hobbies I pursue are ones that I was introduced to as a child myself. I would watch my parents’ love for fitness, the outdoors, camping and trekking, and follow their example. Each one of these things is now an intrinsic part of my life. But biking was an exception, this hobby came from rebellion. The whole idea of only boys riding bikes bothered me. I started riding because in college I was given the choice of 2 hand me down vehicles, a gear-less scooter, which the girls were expected to ride, and a bike, and I was more drawn towards the bike, even though I didn't know how to ride it, only because I didn't like the fact that girls weren't supposed to ride bikes.
What's your favourite type of bike to ride?
A cruiser. I'm not a fan of sports bikes because the saddle is very uncomfortable. Biking for me is meditative, maybe not in the traditional sense but it helps me get lost in my own thoughts, while still staying focused, and for that exact reason, riding a bike is very de-stressing.
How do you take out time to ride?
I don't make it a mission to go and ride. I have a fixed day, Sundays, and whatever needs to be done on that that, be it going to the ATM or a meeting or whatever, I use the bike as my means of getting there. I do long trips too, but that's only once a year with all my cousins, but I can't wait that long to ride, so Sundays are bike days.
What has been your favourite location to ride? Where is you dream riding destination?
I've loved riding in the mountains, just anywhere in the mountains. The energy, the environment are so pure and unadulterated, and you're out there with the nature, soaking in the sights, sounds (or the lack of them) and smells that are in offer.
Where I'd love to ride is the route between Cape town and the Cape of good home in South Africa, where while going south you have the Atlantic Ocean on your right and the Indian Ocean on your right when you're going back. The other one would be the smaller roads in the south of Spain, in Costa del Sol.
Along with a passion for biking, Gul is also a licensed hobby pilot, loves adventure sports and has a passion for fitness, which she shares with her son, Nihal, and her two dogs, Gina and Vegas.