Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sore Bums and Red Eyes

Cycling 365 days in an year is FUN. But trying to cycle 365 km in a day is definitely a Pain In the Ass. The bums become sore and eyes become red. I was not wearing the sunglasses after dark.

I had done my 200kms brevet ride during June 2011 and i had used my MTB. I wanted to do the same for the 300km brevet ride on 17th December 2011. I always believe that riding long distance using a heavy cycle with FAT tires will help anybody to improve his stamina and endurance levels. This 300 km ride involves getting into and out of 3 neighboring states ( Karnataka, AndraPradesh and Tamil Nadu ). Looking at the elevation profile overall there is about 1750m of climbing.

These pictures are credited to IISC Randonneurs -

The climbs especially from Krishnagiri ( TN ) towards Bangalore ( KN ) were really challenging because this was at the end of the ride when the rider's are already tired. Adding to it this challenge has to be executed carefully because it would be dark and monster size lorries make scary noises riding beside riders. For a normal brevet rider on an MTB cycle ( AVG of 20kms ) it takes about 12 hours to complete the 200km stretch.This means the rider starts these climbs around 6pm.

I woke up @ 4AM. Got fresh and had hot idlis ( Thanks to my wife ). Left my home and reached the start point by 6AM . I met few more riders. This even is organized by IISC folks.

After the regular formalities where the cycle is checked for FRONT headlight and REAR tail lamp the rider's get their cue sheet and a stamped yellow brevet card. The rider's are supposed to wear reflective jackets throughout the ride.

Brevet rides are still in it's infancy in India and due to less number of participants and volunteers, NOT all  checkpoints will be manned. Instead the riders are supposed to collect ATM slips using their cards to prove their timings.

As soon as the ride started i found that the one of the rear brake pads stopped working and started playing seesaw. I had to fix it with a 5mm Allen Key. I moved on somehow managing to ride through the zero visibility foggy highway. The rear brake-pads started making squeaky noise whenever i used them. I was not in a mood to get down and fix it. I kept on riding. By 12 pm i had entered Andra Pradesh the neighboring state.I had completed Bangalore - Malur - Bangarpet - Bethamangala - VenkatagiriKota. Somehow I had covered the first 100kms within the first 6 hours of the ride. This included the tender coconut and banana breaks. I never stopped anywhere for breakfast as the hot idlis i had @home gave me enough energy to keep going.

It took me 75 minutes as i passed through some hilly areas with several small climbs to enter Tamil Nadu and i was at the Peranampattu town in Vellore district. While doing this I was stopped by several amused localities to know what is happening and why we are doing this. The problem is they never get to see branded cycles with flashing tail lights and confusing gadgets and phones mounted on the bikes.

It was HOT by this time and I collected the 2nd ATM slip. I just had 1 sweet-lime juice and i could see that folks were struggling to find a good/decent hotel to have lunch. I could see some frustrated riders. Next stop was Vaniyamabadi and on the way i had a Tea and Bun. On NH-46 while riding towards krishnagiri, I met Ganapathi Subramanian and Kiran Kumar as well as Chidamabaram Subramanian @ Mufasa's Hotel. It was around 5 pm and I had done 182kms by 11 hours. At Mufasa Hotel I had a bowl of curd rice with a plain omlette and a glass of butter milk.

After our late lunch Chidu took off quickly and I started riding with Gana and Kiran. Both of them are amazing long distance riders and fortunately they had decided that they would ride slow for sometime until the food settles down in their belly. I just had to trail them and sometimes i was asked to ride in between them in a straight line - Paceline. Riding with them helped me maintain a good pace.

From Vaniyambadi to Krishnagiri it is 55km and It was dark by the time we reached Krishnagiri. And I had almost covered 225kms. I had to do the last 90kms on a dark and dusty highway with huge lorries around. Usually brevet rides will be bit longer than the actual km. In this case instead of 300 it was around 315 km.

Anyway somehow i managed to ride along with roadies Gana and Kiran and managed to reach Hosur by 10 PM. There were some steep sections between krishnagiri and hosur. Sometimes i felt i should have brought my RoadBike as the fatty tyres on my MTB demanded more pedalling power. Thanks a ton to Gana and Kiran who frequently used to turn and see if i was behind them. Kiran offered me his Nutrition bars whenever we used to stop to sip water.

Around 11 PM i reached electronic city and it was 12 km to the finish point ( SILK Board junction ). I really don't know what happened to me. Maybe it was the joy of completing the longest ride in my cycling career. I was in Euphoria. I just started riding very fast. The empty flat road with street lights on everywhere was so different from the dark and dangerous noisy highways.

In few minutes i was @ the end point. I met the IISC riders and organizers and gave them my ATM slips and Brevet cards. I became a randonneur 6 months back when i did my 200km in 12 hours but finishing a 300km in 18 hours on a cold and chilly Sunday morning really made me humble.

Unfortunately my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch only works for 12 hours and in between for some 20+ km i forgot to switch it on. This is the partial data -

I plan to do the Brevet 400km in the month of Jan 2012. Till then Keep reading Keep riding.