A tale of unfinished brevet – My ride story about the 400brm

MR= Madras Randonnuers; BRM = BREVET ; CP = contol point.

This is write up about the Green Cruiser 400 BRM held by MR . Sadly, I couldn’t finish the ride this time

Route : Velachery ( Chennai) –Tambaram- Sri Perumbudur- Ranipet- Vellore- Alangayam- Vaniyambadi ( U turn point)- Vellore- Sri perumbudur- Tambaram- Velachery (Chennai) – Total 406km appx.

I was eager to participate in 200 and 300 brevets, but this time I’m super excited. An excitement that I’m getting closer to the Super Randonnuer title , excited that there is much challenge involved in this ride than previous ones , excited how my new slick tires will perform. ( 26 X 1.5 “)

I have packed every thing that is necessary. As always I have included rain gear , dry fruits ,gels and chocolates to nearly support me for entire ride. Also in addition to the cycling light I have tied a torch to the fork on front mudgaurd bracket. Yet both are not completely sufficient for the completely darker road !

I couldn’t practice much for this brevet as I got saddle soreness after three hundred ride and later I have travelled . Thia factor kept me little worried. I couldn’t sleep much the night before , excitement I guess !

I was eagerly awaken when alarm rang and started getting ready. Had a sandwich and apple before starting to the starting point. I arrived there with ten minutes left to the start. It is always nice to see the fellow riders who too are excited and enthusiastic in their heart.

For some reason I started to feel the fatigue as soon as the ride started. I have drafted along with a rider from Hyderabad till 1st CP (20km ). He has hinted that my saddle height is little low. I have realized that I have changed the height, owing to the inclined seat angle a week ago !

A generous cycling coach has provided a yummy mango juice to the riders at that CP. After few stretches I was back on the saddle.

The fatigue severed and I had to stop for every few Km’s. At 63 kms I had breakfast, it gave me little refreshment and relief. In the meanwhile like always, sun started adding his share of heat to the already burning bums . In between I have also increased my saddle height, which gave a great relief.

I have arrived at 2nd CP (101 km) with a decent time to spare. The food I have ordered in the hotel beside CP is too spicy for me and I couldn’t make my tummy full. At CP another generous volunteer ( I hope he is a sports physio ) has stretched my legs. It worked like a magic and I was relieved of all the fatigue and became very fresh.

Heading to the next CP, I have taken the NH which blocked my way to hotels in service roads at many places. I carried salt and added it to coke which gave me some push futher. Like a saviour the local local ragi malt has showed up again and I have gulped a tumblerfull of it. It has recharged me like spinach did for popoye.

Mr.sun didn’t bother to reduce his heat and continued his task of the day. I was really thankful to the cold deserts of himalays, which made me undergo a lot of heat than this and increasing my capability to ride in heat. So I gave a sarcastic hi5 to sun and moved ahead. One could have the sight of hills as soon as they cross 1st CP.

My grudge on the loose gravel uphills and downhills of Himalayas was still unsatisfied. So I take every chance to conquer any uphill I see. Throughout the way I was asking them to provide me best challenge they can and see if they can put my feet down in the climb! The continous flyovers on the way to CP has provided the practise before climb and it was fun to climb and get down from them.

The third CP(140km) was under a big tree near Abdullapuram after crossing Vellore. What can be more relaxing than a tree shade under burning sun . All the riders happily relaxed under it and had the yummy curd rice provided by MR. It has filled the essential carbs necessary for the ride ahead. I even had a salted lemon water,bananas, stretched and started to ride. The organisers were very helpful in cheering the riders and gave confidence for the climb.

Things started changing from here. The landscape turned so beautiful, restricting me to pedal slowly and enjoy the scenery. While riding on this route I felt I have got the necessary answer for the question why do you go for brevets ? To be in hidden heavens of earth like this.

The little children on way were very enthusiastic and they waved or shouted all the best. Some were generous to offer even water. Some are interested in where abouts. Some of the hi5’s by super excited kids was so tough that it made my hand vibrate. I even had water from a road side tank ,which tatsed so good. I have decided to go there touring some day and stay few days roaming around all beatiful and small villages.

The terrain is little undulating throughout out.I rode on the highest gear almost all the way. I hoped to stop for food at the next CP at Alangayam and didn’t bother to take food stops in between.

I saw it is raining on other otherside of hills and wished that those clouds shouldn’t come over me. Little did I know that I was heading there. I like these kind of games from the hilly terrains. The climb to next CP was little and only major climb in the brevet. It is very moderate climb and can be done with little uphill practise and using lower gear. It became dense and dark as climb started. I even saw an elephant crossing board on the way up. Monkey’s are the only wild life I came across and it looked like they were not bothered by trespassers in their territory.

It started to shower when I was 2/3 km’s away from the 4th CP. (186 km). Though it showered it is very relaxing to be at CP. I reached there with 20/25 minutes to spare. As soon as I have stretched I was back on saddle.

It started to rain cats and dogs minutes after I started. I have quickly put on my rain vest and started. Though it is not a complete dowhill, I have coasted for most of the distance in 25km ride back to NH at Vaniyambadi. Some turns were every thrilling. But the rain drops were hitting my face like needles and I had to wear my bandana.

Even Mr. Sun was done for the day and started closing his duties for the day. He was behind the clouds and ensured he provided the best sights for the day. Viewing sunset on opposite hill is always a happy sight and this is much more. I could feel that region is completely dry. He is growing bigger and bigger as he is getting down and I even felt I could touch him with my hand. It is all a pretty confusing sight. While I’m dreching in the rain and darker light witnessing bright light and dryness on other side.

I felt I may skid as soon as I have entered Vaniyambadi while avoiding hi5’s from kids. Luckily i did not skid I was back on flat roads.

As I got suggestion from reddit (randonneuring) to change shorts after half way, I started looking for a decent hotel to change,eat and relax. It needed another 20/30 mintues for me to find a nice hotel. I have rushed in ordered food , applied saddle sore powder at the chaffing points, private areas, changed clothes and came back to the restaurant. I had grape juice after food for carb refill.

I felt completely new and relaxed after eating, which once again proves that food is one of the secrets to endurance. It started to pour again as soon as I was out and I have put on rain gear again.

My lights were good enough to keep me safe but not sufficient for a faster ride. I went in a decent speed and pedalled faster whenever street lights show up. The occasional dogs also luckily didn’t bother much. Accompanying the rain there were too many thunders and lightnings throughout. It is an inexplicable feeling to see the lightings and the lands,trees shinig under them. I was not worried looking at them directly as I wore night vision glasses. The ocassional lightnings provided ample of light to show how terrain looked like. I enjoyed this disco ride. It was very sarcastic that rain followed me or it has increased in the areas I headed to ! I didn’t feel uncomfortable or any pain while riding then, except that I felt electric shocks passing through my hands whenever I have flexed them. Riding in such a rain is too thrilling for me.

I have three hours to spare and 50 kilometres to go for next CP. I was very happy about that. Feeling very uncomfortable at beginning to have lot of time for sparing is really a good achivement for me in this ride. I was completely lonely with no one ahead or behind me in the sight. I thought of waiting for a group but I cannot match the speeds of road bikes with whooping gears if I’m with them. So I have continued riding under the disco lights all alone.

When everything is going right, life has always some plans to test you. I was in a very decent speed and around 10/12 kms away from next control point with about an hour to spare. In normal times it is just a silly ride and will be usually finished within 30 minutes and I thought of utilising next 30 mins for searching the control point and to take rest.

Negative thoughts will always lead to negative situations. I wondered how many riders would have quit or what kind of problems they are facing. Especially wondered about bikes with ultra thin tires which provide less traction. I suddenly felt a vibrating back tire and it’s a flat ! I couldn’t help my self from controlling to laugh at the weird situation in which I got struck . I removed the wheel and I tried taking the tire out but , the tire lever won’t go in. I have delfated completely but in no way I could remove the tire.

Fifteen minutes later I saw couple of riders, I felt how ahead I was. I thought of asking them for help but felt not to disturb their flow as I came to know in previous CP that they are riding very tightly on time. I wanted to take a chance put back the wheel, inflated and started to ride. I did this for every kilometre. After I did that twice, I realized how lot of time is going wastely and felt fixing is the best option as least to get out from middle of no where.

I also realized that I may not reach next CP in time. Now a group of riders sprinted infront of me. When another group showed up a person asked is there a problem. I shouted back yes and he stopped. His name is Ralph Corlenius. He not only helped me remove the tire but also put in spare tube. Honestly I may not have bothered to stop in such a pouring rain. I felt brevets also teach some manners apart from endurance.

I was really thankful to him for providing me a support to get out of nowhere.

Now I have sprinted in my maximum speed and didn’t bother to stop as there is only fifteen minutes left with eight more kilometres to go. As it is an unmanned control point I felt +/- 2/3 minutes won’t make much difference. A person sitting on the road in Vellore told me that few bicyles have passed in that way and has pointed me towards CP. Just as I was 1km ahead of CP there was another flat. This time I was frustrated. I saw the time and I was 5 minutes late already. I had no clue how to proceed or what to do. I found a shade and called the ride organizer to ask if I have to quit or continue riding. He suggested not to take risk as I was already late by twenty minutes and may not be able to reach next check point in time. I have decided to quit and sent him confirmation SMS.

I was little saddened, walked back few meters where I saw some fellow riders. I had food which was packed in place I had dinner. After the riders left, I thought of fixing the flat first. This time tire came out easily and I was shocked to see a small pin struck in the tire.

Cursing the play of fate I have fixed it and relaxed for a while. Throughout I was questioned by the surprised people around me about gadgets , pump etc. I told them I am not in mood to answer and they didn’t understand what I have said and kept on asking more.

I have finally decided that it better to move on rather than waiting here and went ahead to put my bicycle on top of bus and come back home.

The ride back from bus stand to home was little tough due to chaffing previous night. There is little rise in body’s temperature but I was alright and kept my self busy in planning next rides.

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