Atlast, accomplished what I desired to accomplish this year. A “Super Randonneur” in cycling, by completing the set of 200, 300, 400 and 600kms brevet rides successfully this year.
A quick recap:
> Successfully completed BRM200 & BRM 300 in Jun & July this year; John & Michael (Mic) gave company for the most part, and we 3 could complete it quite okay, thanks to the nice weather 🙂
> August BRM400 in vellore route was a failure. But, failure gives more learning than success!! Isn’t it? Way too much headwind and elevation going up for the initial 100+kms. John had to quit because of extreme knee pain around 85k, and I continued solo for the rest of the ride. The headwind was so powerful that, riding even at 15kmph was extremely difficult. Added to this, no proper/regular food intake made me drained up completely. When I needed to do the jawadhu mini-hill climb for the u-turn point, my battery was down. Couldn’t reach the 185km Control Point on time. So, eventually, accepted my own failure before the 185k CP, and decided to quit 😦 I was very down, both physically and mentally.
> Wanted to give the 400 another shot, and decided to complete the BRM400 in coimbatore in Sep. This time, I could successfully complete it along with John, though the ride was another extremely tough one.
BRM 600 full story:
Coming to the current one, 23 Sep – Started 600kms BRM from JBC Elite, Velachery. Route is to ride till Samayapuram (Trichy), and return back the same route.
Ride till 185k CP, Ulundurpet A2B, was quite a comfortable one. I & John reached 2hours before the cut off point, and was happy to reach so early. Less we knew that we are going to see the real challenge after this only. Also met Mic, who reached much before us, and was taking a nice nap. After taking some rest here, we started the ride from A2B to the next CP.
So, here comes the first challenge.. John’s roadie tyre was low in air. Quick inspection revealed, the tyre has a puncture 😦 And that was not alone. The other tyre had almost a tyre burst. So, we had to work on both the tyres. Tried fixing the puncture, but for some issue or the other, eventually settled with changing the tube. The other tyre, used the cut piece of the liner, for extra support for the tyre, and started our ride again.
After a few kms, comes the real challenge.. Heavy Headwinds, with the elevation going up. Just reminded me of the Vellore 400 brevet. Added to this was.. Sun was showing no mercy. From a comfortable ride so far, the situation is now a complete 180 deg turn 😦
We 3 tried to draft each other. Not much help, as the head/cross wind was extremely strong. We were cruising slowly (no other choice).
But, then comes a shock that, around 270kms, Mic decided to quit; his muscle tear while doing the Datri 200kms ride, should have been the problem, I thought.
John and I continued. And, then comes the next shock. John also decided to quit. Not sure, if it is a chain reaction, or not. But, his health wasn’t good, just 2 days before the event. And 1 day recovery probably wasn’t just enough.
So, now, around 275kms into the ride, I am all alone. I was mentally feeling very weak, as both my usual partners had to quit. This thought somehow fully occupied my mind, and I wasn’t able to cruise the way I would normally go. Took a few minutes break at around 280kms. Recharged with water and Glucose. Started riding again. Luckily, the elevation from this point was going downwards, and the head/cross wind was taking some rest. So, I could gather some speed, and was going just fine from this point. Saw the board ‘Samayapuram’, and felt really happy. I was looking for the Sona Mina hotel. In the Vellore 400brm, I missed the Control Point, and went further by passing over a bridge, and eventually I had to return back a few kms. With this flashing my mind, I was a little cautious this time, in not ‘missing’ the CP. It took a while of riding before I could spot the Sona Mina hotel, on the right side of the ride, and I was happy to atleast reach half way mark, 300kms!!
Took lunch, cleared the tummy, and took some rest. Started riding after an hour. The initial 20-25 kms of the return journey wasn’t again easy. Some head/cross wind, and also it was elevation up. So, again, slow cruising. I knew I may probably be running out of time. But, I didn’t want to push at this point, and drain my battery completely. So, took it easy. Reached Ulundurpet A2B some 20 minutes before the cut of point. Time is now 10:30 in the night.
After stamping the brevet card, and doing a quick dress change, I started for the next CP.. Around 12 midnight, was feeling extremely sleepy. 2nd sleepless night, na? So, expected 🙂 Stopped in a bus stop, Slept on the passenger bench, and closed my eyes. Before I realize, I was in good sleep. Luckily, something woke me up after 30-45 minutes. Woke up, checked my clock, and I realized, I have slept for some time, and happy to see that took some right amount of sleep, without any planning 😉
Started from there, and I was keeping a tab on the kms for the next CP. Unfortunately, my mind took all wrong calculations, and I was keeping a tab with 10 kms less in mind (than the correctone) for the next CP; So, with the wrong 10km less in plan, I was taking far too many water/coffee/chips/snacks breaks. Luckily, I realised the mistake before it got out of my hand. Started a bit of push/accelerating, once I realized I have 10kms more than what I planned so far 😉 Eventually, reached the next CP, Only Coffee, at Silavattam, comfortably before the cut off time.
Now, it is another 75 for the final CP, JBC elite at Velachery. The riders at the CP was feeling comfortable, as it is just 4 more hours to finish it off!! (5 hours for the cut off time).
MR arranged for hot idlies at the CP, and after having this, and a little bit of rest, started ride for the final leg. Once, I reached Chengalpet, I was feeling comfortable, as it is my home turf :D, and I was cruising comfortably, not too much speed, nor slow; just on the comfortable speed.
Soon I crossed Perungalathur, and while going towards Tambaram, noticed a couple of riders some 500meters before me, wrongly taking the chennai bye-pass road. Shouted from the bottom of my lungs to them that they are in the wrong route. Thank god, they heard me, stopped and came back to the GST. Felt good 🙂
One more hour to the cut off time, I was near the Velachery bridge. I also saw a tender coconut shop. Considering more than an hour left, I decided to take it easy, and took 2 tender cocunuts from the shop and finished it like anything. Felt really energized 🙂
After few minutes of rest/break, started slow ride again, and eventually reached JBC.
Thanks to Madras Randonneurs/Partha Dutta, and all volunteers for organizing this event nicely, and for all the support they have provided. Really appreciate.
And before I wrap this up, I should really thank John again. He gave me company for almost half of the ride, and his speed for the first 200kms was just awesome. Though I couldn’t match him, I was atleast trying to keep him on my eyesight 🙂 The time saved, helped a lot during the headwind/elevation rides, in 200-300kms, to manage it with a slower speed.
I am grateful to atleast 3 folks, who are my motivators for me, in taking this long distance cycling a reality.
First, Ramalingam sir. A true motivator. At 63 years young, he is the best rider in our group, or, what I have seen so far. I wish, I will atleast do some riding, at his age.
Second, the seasoned cyclist, SR Krithika from WCCG Tambaram chapter. Her fb post on her 1000kms BRM ride, was so inspirational https://www.facebook.com/krithika.chidambaram/posts/1239828286044512.
Last but not least – Dhinesh Karthik. Though I have done many 100kms so far, my first 100kms was always special. The second half of it was difficult, with hot sun, heavy headwind in the chennai bypass route. And, Dhinesh made this difficult ride look so easy. I don’t think there is anybody else who can take give company to a newbie rider, make him feel very comfortable, lead him (thus, taking away some of the effect of the headwind), and make the difficult 100 into an easy 100. That first 100, made me realize, I too can do 100kms easily 🙂 Later on, this 100 is what became as multiple 100’s, and then 200’s, 300’s etc, and now, the 600!! So, thanks, Dhinesh!
Thanks to WCCG group, especially Tambaram chapter, for all the inspiration and support. I don’t think I would have reached this far, without joining our group. Let’s bring more SRs from our group!! Next year, we will bang the BRM events with a bigger gang!!!
I can’t close this, without thanking my wife Anu, for all the support she could provide. (be it preparing the break fast and packing it for the ride, or, providing the moral support, etc)
Next year targets? Yes, I do have. Will need to work more harder to achieve. Wish me good luck 🙂 Hopefully, will achieve, atleast some of the targets 🙂