Dhule-Nashik (Cp 8, 1064 km)-Mumbai (End CP 1214 Km) :
Just as to take away the chance of bragging this as a perfect ride, Mohan got a puncture as soon as we started. It was unusual, but it took a lot of time for us to fix. Also, this was his first puncture since past three years in Brevets. Another reason to love brevets. They always give you a surprise. One should always be ready to face such any situation. Buffer time always helps.Later we are on move, except when we were very exhausted. Dry fruit bars and grapes kept me going without much hunger and trouble.It was not at all cold. We are managing without any warmers. Just like the previous day, we want wrap up the climb before it gets hotter. We sailed through the rolling terrains. As we are discussing about climb, I mentioned that it may appear long , as I have climbed it in dark and a heavy rain last time. Mohan hinted that it is not as long as it appears. This is the last big climb in the route. So I pushed myself to see if I can climb faster. I did. With a little additional effort, I did climb with ease as well as fast. I rode till I have reached Chandwad town.
I crossed thousand kilometers. There was not much traffic now, It was pleasant. I’m beyond a 1000 Km for fourth time. I could feel the calmness in my mind and happiness, endless rush of excitement in my blood flow. I want to mash-up the gears and just wrap the ride real quick, but then I want to do it easy and slow to enjoy the Brevet. I waited for Mohan. After sometime, I got a call that he is having breakfast and asked me if I could join. I didn’t want to go back, so I went ahead. I stopped at a dhaba few kilometers ahead.
Beyond 1000, I felt like I should get all the royal treatment. So I stopped at an empty dhaba, chosen a empty cot and sat like as if I owned it. I ordered a sandwich and a Poha. At the end, I topped them with a Pepsi. I gave a lot of rest to my bums, body. I savoured every spoon of Poha, as if I’m having it for first time. My mind is already in joy that I’m just 190 km short of celebrations. I enjoyed riding in this zone past 1000 till next CP very much. I have never experienced such calmness in my mind.
Mohan joined me once again. We rode nearly non stop till Pimpalgaon ( stopped for some pics and to escape from heat). At Ojhar, Mohan had a flat again. What’s with his Monster bike ?!!! which never gave trouble. Since there are puncture shops around and CP at Nashik is just 15 km away, I decided to move ahead.
Some pose with bike, ahead of Nashik.
With every pedal, I’m getting much happier thinking about the finish. Within no time, I reached Nashik. Mohan joined few minutes later. Heat started to intensify now. After lubing the butt, one more Poha , butter milk and we both are off.
With Manageable winds, we decided that we should stop at Kasara top for few pics and then only at Asangaon ( 50 kms before start). Heat is again getting beyond ,what we can bear. But taking rest is also not an option, keeping the traffic in mind which might slow us at the end. We pushed. We got more and more thirsty as we rode. We countered it by chewing sugar candies. Having food on roadside dhaba at Pune on Day-1, scared us to try food at not very decent places. We waited till we reached Kamat hotel. I feasted on a curd rice, while Mohan had a Thali. After eating and then drinking a sprite, I had around 10 small glasses of lemonade with lot of salt in it. The level of heat outside can be understood ! Yet there is some more space in my tummy for one more glass. When lemons on table were finished and spent around an hour inside hotel to escape heat ,we moved in that heavily rolling terrain once again. At Kasara, we posed for few pics and then I went ahead. I informed Mohan that I will stop at Asangaon.
I love the Kasara downhill, it is not very steep. Yet, one can gain maximum speed without much effort. Also it is very safe. 10-15 Kms were finished in a flash. That terrain started teasing us once again. Very long uphills followed by steep downhills. Burning heat made me feel very weak and exhausted. The fight was on – Me or Sun ? I’m in no mood to rest nor he was in no mood to cool down. I got an upper hand, though not very strongly. I rode till Asangaon. Mohan was here once again.
Last time when I was DNF in this route, while roaming for a place to shower, I found a hotel (Parivar garden, beside Food hub) with a Recliner sofa massage. Then it relieved me from pain of riding 500 km. This is one of my motivations to come a long way in this ride. To have a massage at that place after 1150 km without any tension is one of my goal before the ride. I’m happy that I fulfilled it. We both enjoyed two sessions of a 6 minute massage in that sofa/chair. I refilled my tummy with a sambar Idly for last stretch.I relished on a tasty coffee. Coffee after two months tasted really great. Just 60 km approximately and we are there. I was happy, I want to wrap up things happily.
That moment was very short-lived. As soon as we were back on roads,I was awaken by the harsh honking of motor vehicles and thrown aside by fast moving vehicles. I got pissed off. Mohan wanted to wrap up ride quick, so he is not stopping. Traffic is making me very very angry. I lost all the feeling that I rode around 1170 km. I want to just reach the end point and never ride in this mad rush again. I want to carry an EMP and disable all honking with just a click. I wanted to even break every windshield and teach every driver, proper sense of driving and honking. Alas, I’m just a cyclist ! All this time, Mohan is riding at a super pace.
After much frustration, we took one final break to ride towards Mulund. There are atleast five traffic jams as we entered last 5 km. I even pointed middle finger at a senseless driver honking at me ,while I was struck in traffic jam.
Last two km…. last km. We reached. Secret spice restaurant. The end point of an exhausting and a really long ride. 1224 km as strava showed it. A ride which I thought that I would never complete, a ride in which I couldn’t finish both halves within time. A ride which I will cherish for a long time. I’m very much elated. After a sad and neck to neck finish at 1000 few days ago and then finishing a 1200 now with around 7000 metres of climbing with 2 hour 40 minute buffer is a great achievement for me. I have to still admit that headwinds are really in our favour, else our life would have been much more miserable.
Post ride, Mohan left soon. Chirag, other finisher also left after sometime. We are now waiting for the last two riders Lara and Siddarth. Myslef, Anil Uchil and Rajesh discussed a lot of things. I ordered a Cheese fondue. A couple of hours later Sid and Lara showed up. Lara is second woman in India to finish a 1200 BRM. We then spent an hour talking about everything.
Later everyone departed in their own ways. At railway station, since my train is at 6.50 am, I had to be awake atleast till 4.30 am to book my cycle under luggage. I tried to be awake,but after riding 1200 km and not riding anymore body was reluctant to be awake. I slept with many ,on floor outside railway station. I waited for clock to go past 4.25. Finally, after handing over bike at luggage office, I had a good one hour nap at retiring room. I made sure that I catch train without missing. In train, I slept all along journey eating almost everything, that passed me. I couldn’t avoid thinking about the roads I have just travelled. Also in my heart I’m much confident about attempting LEL -17 (London-Edinburgh- London)now.
In Hyderabad, as bags were heavy, I brought bike in auto to home. I then met two sparkling eyes, waiting to meet me past six days. We smiled at each other, we rejoiced at my achievement and then we were lost time.
Post ride, even after a week there is some lower back pain, which is still hurting me. Neck pain is not completely eased off. I’m just waiting as time may heal. If they pesrsist for one more week, I have to visit a physio.
Though there is not much chaffing during ride, but post ride – there was lot of itching between the bums, for which I’m applying candid dusting powder. Rest of my body is fine.
Atit-Lonavala (Cp-4 , 523 km):- After a 30 minute nap, we decided to move. Yet, some laziness in me prompted me to ask for more rest. Mohan is always a man on move. So I asked him to ride. I took one more nap. This second nap is very disturbing. Also I’m waking up, just by the sound of a freewheel, whenever a cyclist is passing by. I hated thought of wasting much more time. I got ready to ride. It was slow, because of sleep. Also I got hungry. I couldn’t swallow sweet items now, so just managed with bananas and a hot tea at Satara. I’m also feeling sad that I’m missing to enjoy moonlight because of sleep. Here I met a group of cyclists, who couldn’t continue to ride further in 600 BRM. ( It was a multi BRM, with 300,600 and 1200 BRM’s). One of them asked how could I manage to ride alone.I just smiled and went ahead.
But thinking over that question, I wondered why should one always stick with someone to ride ? I always enjoy the peace and calmness when I ride alone. If riding bicycle is freedom, riding alone is the next level. I’m not against riding in group but, riding alone is fun and peace in its own way. In a Telugu movie, hero asks someone – ” you are born alone, can’t you jog alone ?” , I want to put it same way.
One goes down to give way for another. Moon is going down on west.
Back on the roads, my goal is to reach Kambatki ghat, which will give me lot of buffer due to descent. I pushed till Surur ( where there was a deviation for Mahabaleshwar, yesterday) and then dragged myself till I descended Khambatki ghat. Some how , I’m not very comfortable with food in that region. The thought of having vada pav for breakfast didn’t sound good to me. I rode till I saw a good hotel. Mohan is already having food there. After refilling tummy with Sambar Idly and discussing about reaching next CP we started riding.
Meanwhile, a small drama happened. Jagadeesh, who is with Anil Uchil at Mahabaleshwar , called me to ask about my whereabouts. I told I’m riding towards Pune. He was surprised saying that, he was informed by Anil that I was DNF . A chill went through my spine. Luckily, it took few more calls to sort the issue, which is name confusion with another rider.
The beautiful sunrise over hill in the morning, turned to blazing heat now. We know until we cross Pune, taking rest will waste time. So we are pushing to the extent we can. A very long down hill at Katraj tunnel lifted our spirits. A good rest to the exhausted legs. I completely enjoyed coasting in that slope. As soon as I entered city, I hated the chaotic traffic. Everything is moving like an excited electron, trying to get bonded,except that reaction will be a disaster in form of accident here, which luckily didn’t happen.
Past 50,60 km I have controlled my feelings to taste Neera, but increasing heat and traffic gave me a good reason to stop at a Neera shop. I gulped three glasses back to back. My taste buds are gratified, so does my mind. Mohan went ahead.
I crossed paths with Chandramouly and Kabir. We three stopped for a quick-lunch at nearly end of Dehu road, where we should take a left to join road to Lonavala again. After a talk and giving good rest to bums, we started at our own pace.
Heat grew much intense now. I wanted have one more neera. I know, too much of anything is not good. I already had 11 galsses of it, but I feel like having one more. it was a game between mind and taste buds. As soon as my mind realised that I may not find neera stores ahead, it gave up giving way for taste buds to score.I had three more glasses. I hated that I’m lost to my senses,but it is invetible.
After that, I started feeling sleepy. In that heat, I didn’t want to stop for a break either. So I just pedalled thinking about last year, when I’m at same location after missing many controls, yet trying to finish the ride. I had a lot of buffer this time. In that dizzy mode, I reached Lonavala control and refilled tummy with a Pista Milk shake. Met Mohan once again.
At exit, we clicked few pictures of valley and moved ahead. Since my thin tires are faster, we had to separate before the Bohr Ghat descent. As it is very steep, I couldn’t enjoy the downhill. All my concentration is on controlling bike from over speeding on steep slopes. 14 minutes for 12 km. I’m at Khopoli again.
To escape from the unbearable heat, I took shelter under a tree. I overloaded tummy with two more glasses of sugarcane juice. It was not necessary at that time, so they started to come out soon.
After some time, I met Mohan again. I felt very dizzy, so I asked him to continue and rested at a bus shelter. I couldn’t sleep. I realised that my mind is looking for excuses to stay off bike. I moved on. I caught up with Chandramouly once again. I couldn’t match his slow pace on Trek Domane (Full carbon) bike. Yet, since I don’t want make any navigation error, I followed his wheels religiously. Traffic pissed us off. After heat, the honking now became unbearable. I couldn’t enjoy the feeling that I have finished the first toughest half. Only sunset over tall buildings eased my mind a little.
At some signals, he waited for me. We saw Anil Uchil on the way, who clarified once again on DNF issue earlier. Pushing through the traffic, we made our way to Mulund again. It took 38.5 hours to ride the first 607 km. It was an exciting momet ,as I couldn’t finish this route earlier.
It was really nice of Chandramouly to guide me till the end. Also he offered me stay at his home before brevet. Thanks for all your help.
I emptied my overloaded tummy at secret spice and reloaded with Pasta. Never a deficit with regards to tummy.
I then went on to McD to pack 3*Aloo tikki for early morning, and a Panneer burger to reload carbs for next half. Drinking a coke after ages gave lot of relaxation to mind. I skipped cool drinks, coffee ,tea since two months before this ride.
At Dream residency (stay arranged by organisers) , I took a shower,lubed the bike, got everything ready for next half and tried to sleep. Mohan already reached here and wad set to rest. Our plan is to start riding by 11 pm.
Alarm did ring at time specified by us, but our bodies tired by riding a lot demanded more rest. When we heard doors being knocked, it was around 12.30 . We got up in hurry and was on bikes in next 10 minutes. 607 km more to wrap up the ride.
As we both started again, we know reaching Nashik ,150 km in 12 hours in not very difficult. Yet, with our own shares of mishaps during brevets and also to ensure that we have enough buffer, we want to reach there as early as possible. Riding after 600 km, our bodies we are not very active, but the rest ensured that our legs were fresh.
Sleep didn’t spare us though. A tea near Thane couldn’t keep us awake. We gave a shot to the best trick that we saved . We spoke ! Spoke till we couldn’t think of speaking anymore, spoke till I lost my throat and couldn’t speak any more. Talking continuously for an hour will definitely keep you awake. I had a Aloo tikki in between,
It was endless up and down till Kasara base. We refilled our tummies to climb the ghat. It was very easy than we expected. I felt terribly sad, thinking about my DNF in this route last year. I thought I will run out of time, I had to climb this and quit after riding 500 kms in a 600 BRM. Damn me. I realised once again that, whatever may be the case, reaching the end point should be only motto for a randonnuer.
The enjoyment of effortless climbing was much intensified with the sunrise, fall colours and the trains that are passing in and out of tunnels. I felt sad that I couldn’t click any of train picture. It was an amazing sight to see train moving in those hills. Ghat is beautiful even in fall. Last time, I was mesmerised with it’s beauty during monsoon. Cycling or not, this ghat is a must visit for every wanderer.
As I rode ahead I wondered about the way nature has arranged itself over different terrains. It was a terribly rolling terrain with slight head winds for last 50 km to Nashik. We took our time. Luckily roads are smooth here, which gave us some comfort. We reached the designated CP, Dwaraka hotel with lot of time to spare. After a lassi and one more aloo tikki, we went ahead as we want to make buffer at Dhule for sleep.
Heat is intensifying. We rode further 30 km and stopped for lunch. Once again, we figured out that thirst is not real but was caused by heat. Drinking too much of water is not a solution. Our eyes found grapes. This region, is famous for them. There atelast 50 shops on either sides of road. Mohan got green one, I brought black. They are very tasty and seedless too ! I wanted to go there once again, just for them.
Just when the temperature was unbearable, we took shelter at a abandoned shop. Yeah, body demands rest as soon as it knows that we crossed half way. I had to obey it’s command. Terrain is nearly flat now. Bearing the heat and greeting the occasional winds , we reached Chandwad. Enjoying the Chandwad descent, we pedalled ahead till Malegaon.
I had most tastiest lassi in my life there. The ice cream that guy added in it was much more delicious. I wished just like hard disk space, we can add more place in belly to accommodate such delicacies.I licked till there is no drop left.
Just with one more tea stop, we pushed using our maximum strength at that time, to reach Dhule as early as possible. Winds were acting crazily. Sometimes, they come from forward, then backwards and sometimes sideways. Just like life they became unpredictable.
A long downhill guided us toward Dhule. I’m very eager to reach Dhule as control point is Gurudwara. I have never visited one before nor stayed inside its premises. Though, I know that with this attire and all sweat, mud one cannot go inside, yet I felt delighted just with thought of going to a holy place.
I headed to Langar ( free food offered at Gurudwara) as soon as I reached there. The rotis and sabji ( curry) were delicious and filled tummy. Though it felt tiresome to wash plate after eating, it served as a great exercise to fingers which were held in same position for long time.
I took a 75% shower, emptied my belly, set everything ready to ride back. Here for first time, I spoke happily with my parents and wife. My tone gave them confidence that I’m fine and can do it with out any trouble. Yeah, it was just 300 km more.
After the call I realised that , my neck is paining if I’m standing straight. I got worried a little, but then felt that sleep will solve it. It was not solved even after a 2 hour sleep, yet I felt it was alright to move. Mohan and me started again for my first ever epic journey.
A special note : If you are riding beyond 200 Km,depending upon sweat levels, it will be really helpful if private areas are cleaned once for every 200-250 km. Using a base layer and this cleaning helped me stay away from chaffing which used trouble me after 400 km usually. There was little, but not much. Especially the region around anus is absolutely free of any chaffing, that has let me pedal with much happiness.
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.
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.
Small climbs welcomed me, when I resumed back. I had a banana to keep myself going. I have set myself a prize of cucumber if I could pedal further 15 kms, which is another mind game I have plotted to keep me going. As I hit the highway again, I gifted myself one more banana and when hunger was beyond my control, a cucumber. They tasted delicious.
I felt cheated by the roads.The roads which were uphill all the way were not exactly down today. They were either flat or going up. Down hills are very few. Headwinds spoiled all my downhill plots. As heat started to develop, it seemed that I burnt more calories trying to pedal fast, which made me weak and hunt for a hotel, though I felt nauseous.
One beautiful thing in south India is the availability of life saving dish – Idly. Yeah, it appeared as a treatment for much troubling nausea. I drooled over the thought of Sambar Idly, though I’m not a big fan of that combination earlier.Since I don’t feel like chewing anything, only thing I could have is Sambar Idly. They kept me going.
As I’m not pedalling faster, time is running out. Once again I’m neck to neck with next control timing. One thing I hate in brevet is finding myself at mercy of clock, which wouldn’t let me enjoy the scenery along the route. I pushed myself in the burning heat. As soon as I reached Anantapur, my eyes hunted for a ATM. Though I couldn’t find one, my eyes spotted a juice shop, where I gulped two orange drinks as fast as I can. Luckily in next centre, I found an ATM. I reached control with 25 minutes to spare.
Though, I tried to force myself, to have lunch I couldn’t swallow it. Even I couldn’t eat life saviour curd rice . As a token of gratitude, nature has shown me a coconut vendor. I gulped one and filled one litre of coconut water in my bottle, remembering advice of veteran Krishna Mandava sir.
Sun is not backing off. I felt it would be really waste of energy if I pedal in such a hot temperature.So I requested the coconut vendor if I can sleep in room behind him for one hour. That guy pointed me to other guy, who shouted on me. He told that they are a decent family and how could they let a stranger sleep in their home. I was baffled! I neither want to explain nor argue. So I slept at entrance of a closed shop beside their home.
Brevets often lead to very kind human beings. A person who is running a store beside, asked me to wake up and sleep inside his shop. Since he is going for lunch, he left the shop at my disposal, asked me to take rest and went away. I slept partially, giving much needed rest to tired body. When I woke up, he was with his son, who is looking at my bike in amazement. I bid them farewell, thanking a lot for their hospitality.
Anantapur- Kurnool : (655 – 796 km)
I have now around 9.5 hours to ride 141 kms till next control. It seemed very easy. I moved on drinking coconut water occasionally. Extreme heat is making me weak once again. I took multiple breaks. I pushed myself to reach in a hope to have food at Gooty, next town.
I met Col. Devinder and prakash on the way. Col, after hearing about my nausea looked in pouch for a tablet. Sadly, he couldn’t find it. He gave me his water bottle and asked me to go on. Also Prakash, helped me relieve by stretching my legs. I still felt that my muscles were arrested. I couldn’t do anything apart from cycling.
Here out of blue, I saw a cyclist riding a MTB in opposite direction. He took a U trun to ride with us.He introduced himself as Pradeep. I expressed my surprise, right on his face when he told that he is working in a bank, after graduating as Civil engineer from IIT.
He explained that, he has a hearing issue, due to which he has to be away from field and doing a silent job. I felt sad, yet proud that he is happily pedalling leaving all his troubles behind. I warned him against coming out, without a puncture kit. He accompanied me till Gooty. I enjoyed a beautiful sunset amidst all the chaos.
Sunset before Gooty
Organisers have taken a room here for refreshment, but since it is evening already, everyone left vacating the room. I forced myself to have curd rice there. Sleep is hitting me terribly.Time is running out. I vomited entire curd rice I have taken. I lost hope, yet tried myself to push till the level I can. In uncontrollable situations, I took 5 mins power naps. When I realised that time is running out, I pedalled faster again. After a long time, I have maintained 19-20 kmph average to be awake. I remembered all the effort I have put till now, which made me not to give up. I feared that I may not be able to make it in time.
Every mile stone appeared like a angel welcoming me to heaven. My desperation increased as I’m just 9 km away from Kurnool with 40 mintues left. 5, 4, 3 my heart beat increased as my eyes searched for an ATM. I almost felt that it is end of brevet as I may not make it. Just as I pushed myself little harder, I saw an axis bank ATM. I jumped in joy, as I made it to control once again, with 20 minutes to spare at 1 am.
I ate cucumber in celebration. Over Penna river bridge , on goers stared at me in wonder as I started brushing my teeth in middle of night. I went to the 24 hotel in bus stand once again, emptied my half filled stomach to refill it once again with few Sambar Idly.
I covered myself as much as I can to protect from mosquitoes, cold and slept in open near a shop. I resumed around 4.15 am to ride, the last leg. I have around 15 hours to ride 200 km approximately. It seemed easy once again.
Kurnool – Hyderabad : (796 -1005 km)
Volunteers Rajeev, Dr. Murali and Hemath, were checking upon riders. Dr. Murali gave me a tablet ( I don’t remember it now) for nausea, and gave me Avomine just in case if it hits back. He told me nausea might be because I was dehydrated.My mind response is “Doc . but I drank already a lot of water”..but that’s a lesson for me, to hydrate much more, especially in dry weather conditions. Stocking few frooti’s and gulping one, I moved ahead. Within 15 km, I felt sleepy once again and took a long nap in Ghar dhaba.
When I woke up , I have 14 hours left with 180 km to go. I only wanted to stop for breakfast and lunch and decided not be stop anywhere else. Sadly, the food at a joint I stopped turned out to be very spicy. That guy mocked me for not being able to eat their “normal” food. My tired mind which have ridden 830/840 km got instantly pissed off. I scolded him, paid full for little food I have taken and moved away in anger. I continued till I found another decent dhaba, where I filled my tummy with lots of Idly for not stopping till lunch.
As I mentioned in beginning, headwinds are not letting me ride freely. I stopped at bus stands occasionally to pour water over myself to save from the heat. Many bus shelters have a water tank beside them,which appeared to be a boon. This activity wasted some more time. After the mandatory food break some where before Bhootpur, I was left with 100 km to cover in six hours.
Just as to make it interesting, headwinds blew very intensely. I usually want the last 100 km to be absolutely tension free, especially if it is 1000, 900-1000 is a very beautiful zone to be ride. But, headwinds made it worse. They appeared like a cruel villain, who makes hero helpless by kidnapping all family members. I know there is no other option except to maintain 16 average. I sincerely put my head down and pedal as fast as I can. I’m maintaining 16 average ,just as to survive.
Intensity of winds decreased after Shadnagar. I pushed myself very hard now, as I don;t want to miss end control after working very hard past 950 km. I pedalled like a mad guy over downward slopes to gain the valuable one minute. It was just zooming through traffic till I have hit ORR.
It was like a maze as I rode through Himayat sagar. My self and Col.Devinder were the only two guys left behind. We got confused to find road leading to APPA junction, but somehow made it. I know I can make it now. I didn’t sit on saddle for next few minutes.With tons of energy and many emotions taking over my mind, I reached end point,,once again with 25 minutes to spare.
It’s never over until it’s over.
I finished my 3rd 1000 BRM and laid a strong foundation for my LEL training.
I happily accepted the memento given by Hyderabad randonnuers. Celebrated my self by gulping a coke. Aditya was still there. We spoke a bit, and among all these I felt very inspired that Mohan has finished within 67 hours on his MTB !
Later, I once again celebrated in my mind and appreciated myself for not giving up. Col. Devinder gave me lift till Mehdipatnam. I walked to home from there which is just 2 km away.
After reaching home, I met those two eyes, waiting desperately to see me. My wife was very happy upon my finish. I now have answer to everyone who asked me, if I will continue cycling after marriage? She always took care that I never miss any of goals I have set for myself in endurance cycling. She made Palak rice for me, massaged my feet, kept hot water for bath and made every possible arrangement to have much needed peaceful sleep. I can never thank her enough. for everything she has done.
I pedalled as usual to office next day.
Once again – It is never over, until it’s over.
Sayi mera naam,
Cycle chalana mera kaam.
Strava link for ride : https://www.strava.com/activities/841674656
Some call me mad, some feel that I over do cycling , some feel that Indian roads are not safe for cycling. Yet my mind always thinks about the next ride. My mind knows that what I have achieved is just not enough ,to reach the next big goal. I have to do something to boost my confidence levels. Though my the gap between me and my bikes increased after my wedding and even I have put on ten kg extra weight, my mind didn’t back off to choose The Grandfondo 1000 in Hyderabad on 20 th January,2017 as my come back ride.
After cleaning the bikes which were covered in dust for two months, I went on two small rides of 160 km and 400 km to remind my legs that they have to pedal 1000 km. In those rides, I found that I’m terribly slow, yet to my surprise rides were finished in not very bad timings. They boosted my confidence to be at start point of brevet.
My endurance guru, Mohan advised to aim for sub 70 finish ( 75 hours is cutoff for 1000 Km brevet). I thought on a road bike it is not very tough as I took 72 hours for my previous two 1000 km brevets. Life on roads will be completely different than we always expect. As we rode along the new paths, I have lived a life which I haven’t experienced anytime before ………
To Start point and beyond :-
The 15 km ride to start point ( Mrugavani Resort) is not very strenuous. After volunteers and rest of riders arrived, start point formalities were done. Ride was flagged off and I’m there on my home – the roads. The not so sunny day combined with tail winds,adjusted our moods in highest possible level of pleasantness. Bikes are moving in a decent speed with a very minimum effort. Back in my mind, I’m already warning it, that I have to climb all of this in return with headwinds that try to demotivate me, in every possible way. A beautiful sunset assured that our moods are still high, paving way for the darkness.
I couldn’t forget the way in which I couldn’t properly sync up with Mohan in Belgaum 1000, last year June. This combined with other reason, demanded him to quit brevet. So my primary goal in this brevet is not to cross his bike at any given time. So, I just stayed behind his wheels spinning on easy gears, while he pedalled like a warrior on his MTB.
Sometimes when the wind is very favourable, I couldn’t control pedalling faster, but I managed to stay with him and Aditya, Aravind who are with us. After dinner, we rode slowly. With occasional sleep breaks, accompanied by lullabies of heavy vehicles, we reached Kurnool in the time we have nearly aimed.I’m now riding in Rayalaseema, which in movies will be portrayed as land filled with blood shedding, murders and bombs. I filled my tummy with a ghee roast and Idly at a 24 hour hotel inside bus stand. Thumping music at hotel energised my mind for a while.
I tried carrying boiled potato in this ride, which was of no use as they began to stink after sometime, so I threw them at hotel.
Kurnool- Betamcherla- Tadipatri-Anantapur :- ( 218-410 km )
After 220 Kms, body showed some tiredness and also since my tummy is full, body demanded sleep. In that semi sleep mode, we rode a decent distance hunting down for a place to take a nap. Finally after riding around 25-30 km we found the petrol bunk, Aditya has suggested. Aravind missed us here. Just to fulfil the demand of mind, though not very sleepy, we halted there. I took a nap, which helped me relive from tiredness. Another beautiful sunrise marked the beginning of challenges we have to face for the day.
As we started rolling terrain welcomed us to Betamcherla. Naveen joined us here. Marbles stone piles are scattered along both sides of road. It was filled with marble stone industries till the village. After having breakfast and using washroom offered by a good Samaritan ( Dr. Srikanth), we made a move.
The levels of pleasantness started decreasing with the entry of bad roads. Mood further deteriorated with the disappearance of tarmac. I hated the way roads welcomed me back onto endurance riding. Even the very beautiful OWK reservoir, nor the gigantic cement factory on the way to Tadipatri couldn’t lift my mood. It was different landscape all along the way. Land was being mined for stones all along the way. Larges cavities in earth formed the borders of roads. In the ever growing heat, I didn’t let my mind worry much about mining, but just concentrated on ride. Though I crossed name Belum, I couldn’t find a sign of very famous Belum caves.
At OWK reservoir
Since it is very hot, we gulped a couple of sugandhi sodas, which relieved us to an extent. Also because, I very hungry I ate Poori’s which I got packed at Betamcherla. We manged to reach Tadipatri by lunch time , which is a also a control point ,leaving a decent buffer time. Our hunt for hotel presented us with a decent hotel serving good food. We took a nap there at hotel itself. While, myself and Aditya looked for a excuse to break, Mohan never seemed exhausted.
When we resumed back, I had to stop for buying AAA batteries for my tail light. I had to stop in between for lubing the butt and many times due to exhaustion. Heat is draining all the energy in body. Mohan and Aditya stopped for a refreshing break in middle, where I joined them for a nap. When we resumed, I couldn’t guess that is going to be the last time I see them in entire ride. I couldn’t catch up with Mohan and Aditya.
As per my brevet tradition I’m alone once again. Thoughts stirred my mind, while sleep played with my eyes. Throughout the route, I felt sad about the way this region- Rayalaseema, is portrayed in movies. While riding, I could feel just the pleasantness and beauty. While, in movies it is shown as land filled with goons, swords and bombs ! I hated the way which movies can alter facts and change opinion forever on something !
Somehow, I managed to reach Anantapuram. It was a great relief, as I’m still under my time limits of covering 400 kms within 24 hours. Since I got very hungry once again, I stopped to have Paniyaram ( Pongadalu). I saw Aditya one last time here in the ride ( not sure, where I have crossed him).
Anantapur-Lepakshi : (410-530 km)
With the joy that I’m not lagging very behind, I rode onto the Banglore highway to reach Lepakshi ( U turn point). It is gradually climbing terrain all the way up there. Volunteers – Bharath, Rajeev and Venu sir greeted me
along the way. As it is getting darker, body demanded rest and more sleep.I took occasional naps. I’m not sure if its sodas, I have consumed earlier in the day or if it is the mistake I did now, to consume raw coffee power for being awake – things terribly back fired on me. I felt nauseous. I felt like puking. I tried to empty stomach with a loo , but it too didn’t work out. I was not hungry either.
Yet, since I was warned that getting food further is difficult, I forced my self to have a chapati and packed a couple of them. While resuming from a sleep break, I met Naveen once again. We spoke and rode for sometime. Ride appeared easy with tailwinds supporting me, while I felt it is difficult because of sleep. We took sleep breaks till the time , further which we will not be able to reach control in time. Also since I was not stretching properly all along, my sore muscles were arrested whenever I rested giving me a great trouble whenever I resumed. At times, I had to wake up in same position as I slept, else my legs won’t move and cause a great pain !
In such hard times of never ending climbs, a great joy filled my mind, when I finally took the turn towards Lepakshi. This road is terribly rolling. While stars formed my roof, thick trees formed the walls, I rode in the house of darkness in search of my destin(ation)y. I loved the dogs along the way sleeping without bothering about the cyclists on roads. As a thumb rule of brevet psychology, the more closer we get to a control point, the farther it appears. If not for mile stones, it would have been felt like an eternity.
Finally around 2.30 am I have reached control at Lepakshi. I always wanted to visit ths place, but sad that it turned out to be the odd hour.Bharath welcomed me with a sugandi soda. Since I’m feeling nauseous , I thought soda might help, me clear stomach and the puking feeling. After taking a hot water bath, clearing the stomach, I slept for an hour. Rajeev and Venu sir, woke me up very punctually at time I have mentioned. As soon as I got ready, I vomited soda and banana I have consumed !
Many riders let by now, with just Devinder and Prakash left behind.
Uncertain about how to proceed further as I felt very weak, I carried a couple of bananas and cucumber to move on. I didn’t want to give up. I felt that this ride is the foundation I’m laying for LEL, so I cannot abandon it halfway. With lot of hunger ,yet helpless.. I started pedalling again hoping for a better today.
Tales of my rides on bicycle and other travel experiences