Into the hell : Story of my 600 km brevet

Route :

Hyderabad-Nirmal-Jannaram-Dullapally-Jagityal-Vemulawada-Siddipeta-Ramayampeta-Medak-Narsapur-Hyderabad
Distance : 602 Km,
Gayam aina hai anukunte ,samaram aina sarada ra.
The line from a telugu movie song ,which loosely translates as – war will be fun ,if you feel better even when you are wounded.

After riding 400 kms, my body nearly gave away as that is the maximum distance I rode. Five people are riding as group that time, and we took a very short break in which I turned on music for a while and I heard this song. It’s a different me from that time and thirteen hours later , I showed up at Finishing point….

46 hours earlier…..
I was full of enthusiasm and excitement as I boarded in the train to Hyderabad. I was also accompanied by shoulder pain as I carried bicycle bag till the coach.
I wondered how days passed quickly from the disastrous 400 km ride.After being unable to finish 400kms, I was not so sad but learnt about ways to avoid puncture. Added tire liners and tire sealant, with suggestion of a friend. Adding tire liners will increase weight, so I had to ride more to get accustomed. A to and fro ride of 400kms in two days to Chidambaram ,ensured that I was good to go with the new weight added.
I had sound sleep in train and woke up only in Hyderabad. I hired coolie this time to carry the bicycle bag,went to relatives home and assembled the bike quickly. I have then packed the usual must haves for a brevet like dry fruits, chocolates, puncture kit etc. This time I also got curd rice and dibba rotti ( A kind of 10 X thick dosa made with same flour, people in olden times generally used to carry that during long journeys) packed. My uncle there was excited that the bicycle which went to Himalayas is in his home now. After having lunch , I headed for the challenge.
Hyderabad randonnuers were very friendly and are always in contact. I came to know many people even before I reached there. They also helped me to get a ride till start point which is 25 kms from where I stay.

The D-Day : 
I was lost in thoughts again as we were headed to start point. A week before the event, while riding in a beautiful country road, a person tried to cross the road suddenly and to avoid hitting him, I had to apply brakes very hard due to which my bicycle was lifted in air and fell on right side. The rear derailleur bracket was broken, derailleur was struck in spokes and chain got tangled. Derailluer is responsible for shifting gears and without it, ride is nearly impossible. I was shocked for a moment and felt that I may not be able to attempt 600. Luck favoured me and the bike shop made the repair just in time, that I was able to travel all the way to Hyderabad.
We reached start point very early. The start point is an engineering college. It has a very positive atmosphere. I received the brevet card and got it signed, stamped as soon as I reached, even bike was also inspected.. Looking at fellow randonnuers is always a joy and meeting experienced people is a pride. One can learn a lot from the fellow riders about light packing, managing sleep etc. I had few bananas and had lots of water.

To CP1 at Kamareddy :
At 4 pm on Saturday the 5th of September, 28 riders headed to face the challenge among the support and cheers of families, friends and college staff.

The riders like always, started with a slow pace. Few riders came to Chennai for 400brm and I started to ride with them.
NH7 is a beautiful stretch. It is a rolling terrain, mostly headed downwards. We were accompanied by beautiful fields as soon as we left the city. Flocks of birds, cattle ,green fields on both sides of the beautiful pitch black highway is a feast for eyes. 
We stopped at a punjabi dhaba for having tea, I missed the group here and rode alone and with other group for a while.It soon got darker and we came to the place marked for dinner.After dinner, I joined again with the group I rode in previous stretch.It is a whole new brevet from here.
They were all very good riders and two of them attempting for double and triple super randonnuer. I always stick to my slow riding style and sprinting occasionally as I fear that I will lose energy, but the person attempting for triple SR (Prasad) is faster than others.Since I wanted to learn sprinting in longer distances ,I rode along with him and soon we both were flying. I enjoyed that ride completely.
We reached 1st control point at Kamareddy, around 9 pm with lot of time to spare. We didn’t waste much time there and were back on saddle soon. We stopped wherever necessary from here and went in a decent speed.
To CP 2 at Nirmal :

After some time we lost the group and only we both were riding. We sprinted at many places, took rest whenever necessary and slept wherever possible for minute or two.

Sleeping and resting points

The food that I packed in home helped us survive when we were very hungry in middle of no where.. After sometime rest of the guys in group joined us, and we were sad to know a person has quit due to muscle pains.

Around 2 am , I got to witness moon rise. It is just magic of colours for a while. I couldn’t take my eyes from moon in between the twinkling stars for a long time. Also it is a half moon in waning phase. He is much beautiful in his half form. At some points the lights in some sections of highways were like garlands placed around the moon.
The traffic is also very less in that route and I enjoyed the calmness thoroughly. I wondered when this is the night life that is really meant to be,why the time spent in cities under neon lights, with chaos all around is always termed as night life.
At 4.30 am we reached first manual check point at 210kms, 10kms after Nirmal town. We were cheered by the volunteers. After getting brevet card signed and stamped, we went to dhaba and had food. Sadly I couldn’t catch up sleep here, which affected my sleep pattern through the rest of ride and made me suffer a bit.
To CP3 at Thakkalapally village : 
We started at 5.30 am to reach next control point at Thakkalapally village which is 140kms from here,with almost 10 hours in hand. On a normal day and flat road it is a 7 hour deal (being from 
Chennai, I think in terms of flat always ) but it is completely different terrain here and our sweet suffering started.
Before I was born, my father used to work in Adilabad district and I have no idea about the place.I always imagined Telangana as dry area, but was completely shocked to see so many green fields and forests. I was even surprised to know that we are riding through a tiger reserve zone !! Only because I know the fact that tiger population is very less,I pedalled ahead with the group feeling safe.

A very beautiful sunrise, gave a much needed refreshment to my exhausted mind. Witnessing such a sunrise in monsoon is really a luck , as sun will be hiding shyly between clouds in this season. I saw such sunrise in Kanyakumari and again here. Being completely surrounded by nature is a bliss.I tagged along with Prasad and after some sprinting, we took rest on huge rocks,while waiting for group to join.

At Kadam we stopped for breakfast. Even it is a surprising moment for me as I ate eight Idlies ,which I did never before in my life ! We felt refreshed after breakfast, but the energy we gained by eating was quickly exhausted by the growing heat. Our breaks frequency is also increased.

Some of the climbs were too steep , with down hills not being so steep, to make up the lost time !Also as heat started to grow, our pace got slow and breaks got many. We even slept on roads at times. At some place when I laid down for a while, a monkey came and took away banana beside me ! A scary moment.
Some of the landscapes were very beautiful, if not in group I would have stopped every where to click pictures.

We reached Jannaram around 11 o clock and pedalled towards Jaityal . As usual ,villagers were very curious about our whereabouts. The temperature increased even further from here and took its toll on us. Due to heat I rode with only base layer.

I looked around for coconut all the time but we are blessed with them only at Lakshettipet. Each of us had two coconuts and pedalled towards CP around 30kms ahead.
While typing now I’m wondering how a lot of time is lost! slowly we crossed Dharma puri. Dharmapuri has a temple of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha. The landscape changed dramatically from here with hills being added to existing route. For a while, I wondered If I’m in sets of Pirates of Caribbean. It is lush green all around. I even got to witness farmers ploughing the fields with ox tied to them and even small bullock carts.
After many breaks we reached Thakalapally village, finally around 2.30 pm, the third contol point at 350kms.
It is a much needed place to rest. Organizers arranged lunch for us there. I had a quick shower, changed clothes and had food.It feels very fresh after getting rid of 350 kilometres stink. I noticed the saddle sore beginning and applied anti fungal powder. After a very quick nap of 10/15 minutes we started at 3.40 pm for next cp. It was sad to know that many riders quit here due to unbearable heat.
To CP4 at Siddipet :
Mentally it is just 250kms from here and around 16 hours in hand. A very decent amount of time to head in average speed. I felt refreshed for only a kilometre and realised my body is beginning to exhaust. I need more food, but I didn’t feel like stopping the pace at which group is going. There are many downhill stretches after Jagityal towards Vemulawada. We caught up some speed there headed towards Siddipet , the next auto control point. I turned on music for a while here, in which I got inspired by a song lyrics.
It got darker now and we had a small snack. After that the group of five, got separated accidentally. I found myself alone fighting the cruel headwinds. They were really strong and I could barely pedal.

I very luckily got company of a rider, who works in Afghanistan and rides in brevets here during holidays. We both realised that we have 22 kms to cover in 1.5 hours to reach the control point. It is the turning point and I even feel now, I would have definitely quit if I didn’t get company at that time. We motivated each other for riding towards the destination.

Soon the thunders started and very soon it began to rain cats and dogs. It is a very heavy rain with very less visibility. The pothole filled roads and oncoming heavy vehicle traffic made the conditions very terrible. I cursed the team that did recce for selecting this route. I was also worried about the rider along with me as he is riding a carbon frame bicycle which are very weak in such sections.

We shouted in joy at downhill and rode with excitement, encouraged each other to push at uphills. Bearing the torrential rain, we finally reached Siddipet with minutes to spare. We took a selfie as soon as we reached there as a proof of time. It is a also a moment of pride for me as that is the longest distance I rode till date.450 Kms.

We came to know that lead rider (Prasad) in our group has also just reached there. Sad that his stem went inside due to one of the big pot hole and height of his handle bar is decreased. He is brave to ride with the same bike after that till the finish point.
We three had dinner there and headed towards next control point at Medak. I changed jersey here and put on windcheater for warmth. We are 150 kms away from finish with 10 hours in hand.

To CP5 at Medak :

I lost more stamina and felt very sleepy. At times I feared that I may fall from bike due to sleep. I requested group to stop for a while and we slept in a bus shelter for five minutes and moved again.The route is mostly uphill and The climbs were very steep.

During this ride,I have learnt a lot about maintaining constant cadence before the climbs. Also with the slick tires it is completely new experience for me to ride to ride on uphill. I was very comfortable on climbs in higher gear ,at places. Unlearning the gearing experience I had on 2″ tires and learning it again during mid night in a forest is a wholly new experience and only fun at that moment.

This is a forest stretch and only riding in group will be safe. We even met two other riders and five of us headed forward.One of the rider rode quickly and went ahead and we four reached Ramayampet village from which our next control point is 22 kms away and we had only around an hour in hand.

Water with me got finished and I got it refilled in a milk booth. Everyone among us put maximum effort to reach the control point.
At a point the bungee cord got loose due to many pot holes and my bag fell from rear rack and got struck in rear wheel. Luckily it came very easily and I tied it back, but I missed the group and I was all alone in middle of now where,but as per cyclometer I was only 7/8 kms from the CP with20/25 minutes.
Whenever I used to push my muscles used to cry in pain and made me reduce my speed .I was not comfortable on saddle due to the soreness and when more potholes showed up I was more pissed off. I shouted in pain and agony with only rising moon on my left side to listen. I somehow managed to catch the group who already reached Medak and were waiting for me.

Volunteers were also waiting for us few meters ahead. All the pain got instantly vanished when they cheered and pampered us. I had many bananans, a redbull ,refilled my water bottle then had a minute nap and we all started again.

To CP5 at Narsapur :
The climb is much tougher now and the roads were terrible. We are had very minimum time to spend for rest or take a break. We stopped where it is only absolutely necessary. The lead rider went ahead and we were  three left now. My self, rider who rode with me till CP4 and a rider on MTB. We encouraged each other to go ahead.The struggle to push at that stretch is inexplicable. We gained speed and time in downhill and rode as hard as we can in up hills. Due to my low speed, I missed group again.Enduring all the pain and suffering, I reached the control point with few minutes to spare. We were treated with a fruit Salad and a redbull again. I got a nice massage to legs from a volunteer there.Again it is only due to their pampering the energy refill is instant.
To the glory :

Now it is only 35 kms to glory and around two hours in hand. Decent target even for very slow rider. As soon I headed back to the road, I couldn’t control tears of joy flowing out of my eyes. I cried for a long time .
A volunteer passing to endpoint offered me a small cup of juice. It helped me refill carbs for a little while. Even it is nearing the end, the route didn’t stop climbing up and this is also a forest stretch with hundreds of monkeys lining up both ways of road.I even got chased by few of them.
The rider on MTB was ahead and I caught up myself with the carbon frame rider. We both pushed and pushed cursing the uphills. 
As we are nearing the end, he pushed and went ahead while I continued in the slowest speed possible. At last with 20 minutes to spare I reached the end point of 600 kilometres.
The claps while I’m reching there made me forget all the pain. Organisers immediately gave lots of fruit juice, water bananas, chips..what not.They treated the riders how they deserved to be. It was all cheers around. Every one congratulating each other ,describing their experiences and it is a perfect ending to a dreadful suffering. After many clicks and selfies people started to disperse one by one and I was so thankful that I got a ride till home in one of the organizers car.

12 out of 28 finished and I’m happy that I’m one of them.

Post ride, body is fine ,but numbness/cramps persisted in right hand and near groin.Hope it will fade away soon.

Reaching the end
Signing at the last control point

Celebrating Success

And that’s how it happened and ended.

Fully signed and stamped Brevet card
The finishers
To my left is Prasad , the sprinter attempting third SR on his Btwin Rock irder
next to him is Nirmal Beura , who rode with me in rain .He became SR with this ride and person who rode trek carbon frame bicycle.

Next to him is Mohan Subramanyam, a brave heart to do double SR on his MTB, Trek 1,7.
Next to him is Satish, the rider who went past us after siddipet, became SR with this ride.

To my right is Chairman of the college, next to him is a veteran cyclist, Mr. Krishna Mandava, next to him Sai Harsha, Guy in bule jersey is Hemanth, a teenager, 400 km short of SR,and next to him is a Happy Randonnuer PV Shivaram.

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8 thoughts on “Into the hell : Story of my 600 km brevet”

  1. I'm really proud that you're putting yourself upon the borders of human persistence and constantly surpassing the limits in the field that you chose to excel at this point in life. I wish you all the best for whatever dreams you hold within you in the Bicycle journey of yours.

    Photos are great, especially the one where you've lifted the bike in both of your hands in my most favourite one. Your happiness of accomplishment is picture perfect in your smile itself. Keep rocking brother.

    Like

  2. That was a very good read Sayi!!

    Congratulations on completing a tough ride mate!!

    A word of advise for long rides like these – Skipping lunch is not a good thing as you never know when you would hit the wall. Glycogen depletion caused me to quit the Tristate 600. We were delayed badly at Palamner due to the Telengana issue back then and I reached Mulbagal CP 34 minutes late. Due to an unavoidable issue slowing us down, the organizers offered to accept late arrival at one CP, but I had to make it to other CPs in time.

    So, I skipped lunch, had 2 glasses of sugarcane juice and proceeded. Nearing Sidlaghatta, I could not spin even one rotation more on the pedals and had to quit.

    As regards riding alone in the dead of the night – if possible, even if it meant begging to stay together with a couple of riders, it would be the best thing to do. You never know when hallucinations hit you and what weird things they would throw in front of you. It could be quite scary as it happens mostly when you are alone and comes without warning. It would help to have somebody beside you to help mutually if anything happens.

    Ride safe and strong!!

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  3. Thanks for the wishes and words of caution sir.
    I will definitely try to follow them. Your experiences and suggestions always help.

    On highways riding alone in night is something , which I was accustomed to currently, but these new terrains and forest routes made realize importance of riding in groups and I will try to follow your advice on this

    Like

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