After the 200km ride, I guess my body and mind were automatically tuned to the riding longer distances. I planned this ride very carefully to eliminate the stress that will cope up and make me loose the enjoyment of riding. Only sad part is I planned so much that my chores at work and personal life got delayed every day.
Coming to the ride part, this is the second brevet being conducted by Madras Randonnuers in this season. The ride is from Velachery in Chennai to Chendur in Vilupuram District, 151 kms away from start point. Most of the ride is on NH45 and roads are flat. The challenge involved is heat.
The delay caused by GATI in transporting my bicycle from Delhi to Chennai, made me worry a lot and decided to take the brevet on my single speed .I was so lucky to receive my bicycle just in time and got it serviced. I got the brake shoes and rear derailleur cable and its cover changed. After riding the single speed a week or so, I was rejuvenated riding freshly serviced geared bike, which made me come out of worry about not having enough practise. I was also worried about riding whole distance on my 2” tires, a talk with a veteran rider whose has done this on a MTB with 2.1” tires made me feel confident and go for it. Power of words!
I planned to have steady start, maintaining 20 kmph till first control point and to increase speed from then. Due to a good sleep and nice food previous night, the start is very nice and rode till first CP which is 18km away with ease. I felt some unknown energy within me. The quality time spent in Himalays,plain roads, or no winds I’m really not sure but I felt very comfortable. I slowly increased pace and moved ahead, while the ones with roadies are just cruising at high speeds. I carried a backpack weighing 3-4 Kgs and thought that it will trouble me, but didn’t feel any weight added up because of it.
Mr. Sun, as always is right upon executing his duties and began to heat up. After 60 Kms the heat increased drastically, but it didn’t beat the heat I faced in Himalayan cold deserts. I was able to cope up and go ahead. A good breakfast helped me go more steadily.
I felt very hungry, after crossing the 2nd
CP at 108 km and I couldn’t find any shops in that stretch. I was very lucky to find a road side shop selling ragi malt , which is very common here in Tamilnadu. Two tumblers of that semi solid drink, worked as instant energy booster. It also gave me energy to increase my speed. I have happily reached the third CP which is also the U turn point, with an hour to spare.
After taking break for sometime there I started heading back to the start point. Had lunch at Vasant Bhavan restaurant and started riding again. I have done stretches for every 20-25 kms. It helped me reduce stresses in my knees. Also, I was able to ride at nice speed. As sun started to go down slowly, the ride became more refreshing.
Crossed the 4th CP, which is same as second and completed 200km there. I have beaten my past 200Km ride timing by 30 minutes. It gradually started to get dark .Riding in dark based only on the front light is just a thrill. The night ride goggles, I brought came to rescue at that time. The vehicles coming in one way near villages scared me a lot and I had to blink my front light, every time I see them. The SETC buses are other set of idiots, I came across .They always overtake the Lorries and other heavy from the left, nearly coming to edge of road and almost touching me !
As I entered city and was 60 km away from the end, it began to rain. I have put on my rain coat and pedalled. I still didn’t come out of my good riding mood and continued in 25-30 kmph. At a place where it is very dark, slush covered the edge of road and I went over it. Unable to control the bicycle I fell down. Luckily I fell down on my stomach avoiding any serious injury. My hands and legs began to shake for a while, but I was alright after a kilometre or so.
Riding in rain with wet shoes is such a curse. It irritates a lot. After rain stopped, my boxers started to prick and I could hardly sit on saddle. The last 40kms was all sit-stand game on cycle :P.
At 182kms checked out the last control point and went ahead. Randonnuering is all about competing with yourself and the clock. It was never meant to be a race. Though I have no intention to compete with any rider personally, my mind was pissed off with roadies cruising with a greater speed. I wanted to beat rod bikes and tried to overtake them where ever possible. At the end that effort is vain as they always came ahead of me. But I felt a pride in over taking a road bike on my 2” tire MTB.
After so much of struggling in heat, maintaining timing, bearing the pricking of my boxers, finally the endpoint came. I was very happy for completing the ride without numb hands or severe leg pains, which is a sign of improvement. I didn’t opt for a medal this time also as there are much tougher BRM’s held at other places and this BRM is relatively easy compared to that.
I didn’t want to ride back home with the wet shoes, so took an auto and reached home. I was alright and moving after a 13 hour sleep.
I don’t want to finish without thanking my parents who supported me through out and my room mate for ensuring that I get a nice sleep
What did I do differently from my past 200Km brevet ?
- I made my own cue sheet and tried to adhere to that during the whole ride.
- I brought a new set of gloves, with gel padding which gave me a lot of comfort and helped in preventing numbness.
- I ensured, I had lot of food before and during the ride.
- I have done stretches t regular intervals.
What is randonnuering ?
Randonnuering is a long distance cycle riding meant to be completed in specified time. It was started in France and was conducted by Audax Club Parisien (ACP). In India Audax India Randonneurs (AIR) oversees all the rides, called Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRM). Madras randonnuers is a club associated with AIR. There are many clubs throughout the country organizing BRM’s.
The rider has to follow the specified path, reaching the control points before the specified time. In control points the brevet card will be signed and stamped. If it is unmanned control point one has to get slip from ATM specified. If ATM doesn’t work a selfie will do :P. Riders are supposed to be self supported through out. Help must be taken only from the fellow riders.
One season lasts from November-October. One who finishes 200kms,300 kms, 400kms ,600kms in a season will be called as Super Randonnuer. On payment of specified fee each rider will be given a medal (fee is for transport charges, as medal will come from France) after completing the ride.