Route : Mumbai- Pune- Mahableshwar – Satara -Atit- Pune- Mumbai – Nashik- Dhule – Nashik- Mumbai.
Elevation gain ( Post ride from Strava) : 7800 m
Map : https://goo.gl/4px6ug
Life without challenges is boring. When you achieve something big, you always feel the itch to try the next big thing. That’s life. After a very exhausting 1000 at Hyderabad, I wondered if it is really necessary for me to attempt another 1200 without improving my strength or a good practise ? At the end of 1000 brevet on January 23rd, I have decided not to ride in 1200. As days passed by I couldn’t resist my temptation to think about the route that made me realise I’m weak. This brevet is combination of two of Mumbai’s toughest 600’s . I have failed to finish both of them earlier. I wanted to settle the score. I have decided to ride, yet there are other thoughts that are dragging me back.
Staying away from home for a long time, with just three months into the marriage is not really ideal. It really takes a lot of maturity from partner to understand your passion and purpose of what you are doing. I can say I’m very lucky in this aspect. Not only, did I get her encouragement to ride, but also I got lot of love in form of food to eat along the route and smiles to be happy along the very long , tough journey.
Travelling to Mumbai always make me nervous as it is either the route or some situation will cause lot of issues in the ride. ( They can be read here 1. When my seat post clamp came out and also a late finish, 2.When I faced rains to remember for life time ).Yet, I gathered lot of courage to see the hills and valleys of Lonavala and Khandala from window of train, which I have to climb next day.
This time, whatever may be the case I have decided to come over sleep,which is my biggest enemy.So I need lot of privacy to sleep happily. I made booking at Hotel in Thane, though my finances didn’t allow me to do so. I have requested Anil Uchil to keep bike at his place, for which he readily agreed. I loved roaming in the market area. Resisted all my feelings to savour the mouth watering food along road in name of big one. After having a early dinner ( pricey), got a ghee dosa to eat before starting for ride, a Mc Aloo tikki and made a lot of bread and jam ( some with peanut butter too) for skipping breakfast. Yeah, that was the only plan I made for ride, to save every possible minute till I climb Mahabaleshwar. I went to sleep by 9 pm and had a seven hour sleep, which is highest ever before any event in my rando life.
I made one new experiment in this brevet. It is usually suggested not to try new things in a big ride, but chaffing is something that always hurts me beyond 300 km. Reading some of posts in YACF, I wanted to try wearing a base layer under shorts. I tried it.
Start point till CP-1 (Pune, 150 km) : After having ghee dosa, I went to meet Anil and brought bike to start point. The traditional bike check, meeting with riders was done. We are off,on a journey that will be remembered for a long time. As I started pedalling, I couldn’t help remembering three times where, I have quit 1200 BRM at 500 km. I do not want to repeat that. I wanted to keep the fire alive, that was lit by many riders who finished PBP and many other tough events. I have mentally made up my mind to be on bike for four full days. I have looked it in a way , in which it is fun and a great chance to be on bike rather than suffering. That gave me a great advantage throughout the ride.
Also, my confidence levels were pumped up with many riders whom I do not know ,wishing me for the record I have created last year by riding six super randonnuer’s in a season. Highest by anyone in India, till now.
As I shifted from MTB to roadie, things were all different.Also with reduced intensity of headwinds, it was quick ride till Khopoli. I had McAloo tikki on the way ( It was good even after 15 hours). Also it gave me lot of energy. Also I met and rode along with Mohan Subramanyam, my mentor. I couldn’t write further without appreciating his great determination not only to continue brevets on his MTB, but also improve his speed. A 700*25 C is trailing behind 26* 2″ .I hope, I need not explain further. He was just flying on his bike.
While I literally cried to climb Bohr gaht last time, I didn’t feel it was tough this time. I just rode along it as if it was a normal road. It might also because of Dry fruit bars, my made specially for the ride. I had a couple of them before climb. I felt really energetic with love, power in food.
After climb, I had a couple of sandwiches I made, along with Neera, a local drink. I completely do not know the advantages of that drink made from Palm tree, except that it make my body cool and keeps me going. I learnt about it in last 600 at Mahableshwar. As I’m riding I met one more rider who recognised me, wished me and clicked pictures with me. At this moment, I realised that I have achieved something in my life, with still a long way to go.
It was a fight with rolling terrain and head winds till we reach Warje, Pune , the first control point. Life was all good, we had 2.5 hours of buffer. I just made it in time, last year due to a seat clamp issue. This gave me lot of confidence. We (Me and Mohan) had a not so good Dal Kichidi to just stay alive. At any place we are not loosing a chance to refill salts, by just gulping salt available at hotels/shops.
Pune- Mahabaleshwar (CP-2, 256 km) : Heat began to test us. We are countering it with Neera, lot of water and riding without stopping much. Things became easy after riding through Katraj tunnel. Kambatki ghat appeared little challenging, but I made my way to the top without stopping. It was a big achievement for me and here I know that I will definitely climb till Mahableshwar. I missed Mohan here.
After refreshing with couple of sugar cane juices and refilling love from dry fruit bars, I started towards Panchagani. I’m partly happy because I made it here in day light, as I rode entirely during darkness last time and much more happy because that I will certainly reach CP in time, to which I’m late by 1 hour last time. As I rode along fields of Surur and Wai, I felt sad that I’m not able to click any pictures. As I approached base of climb, I got pumped up and started climbing to take all the revenge and suffering I had in mind over past one year. It was as if the gladiator in me is ripping the opponent nerve by nerve with blood shed all around. The fall season resonated my thoughts. Every metre increase in altitude, I felt the improvement in me.
Just as to cool me down and bring me out of this sweat (blood) bath, nature blessed me with a beautiful moon rise over the hills. I saw it in plains and over sea, but never on hill. The bright red moon rising behind the hills, made me very delighted and realised that it is gift I got from nature for the hard work, I have put to reach here. I didn’t keep my foot down to reach on top of 11 km climb.
Though pricey ,because it’s a travel destination, I couldn’t resist eating a veg biryani after the climb. It was rolling from Panchagani to Mahableshwar. While having food, I saw Mohan. We both rode together to Mahableshwar and reached around 9.30 pm with 2 hours to spare. Pride was filled in me. My confidence levels are boosted multi fold. Riding a long way after panting to climb, from climbing with ease is really a moment to cherish.
While Mohan went to have dinner, I emptied my belly and got ready for ride further without halting for sleep there.
Mahabaleshwar – Atit ( CP-3, 337 km): I know it will not be very easy to reach Satara, after a long day with 250 km. The road was bad with long climbs and descents, Also I’m scared about the dogs in this route. They spared us luckily this time. A scary descent through Medha ghat and a three hours ride took us to Satara. Then a semi sleep ride took us till Atit, where a voluteer (Alok Jee) is waiting for us in cold, to stamp our brevet card. Since sleep has hit me I didn’t want to continue without a nap. Mohan agreed to rest.
Read Day 2,3 here.