Super Randonneur — 2
I was never keen on doing a BRM. First, I never knew what that was and secondly the kms of distance (200, 300, 400, 600) looked really daunting. The maximum I did on my bike was around 120 kms. However, the initial confidence, that I could even attempt something like this, was given by Srinath from Eden Park who completed the 200kms on his Hybrid.
Having missed the first in series — the 200 kms BRM, I registered for the 300 km and did a few long rides to maximize my time on the saddle. I was depending a lot on Srinath who knew the art of long distance riding and the formalities of registering and homologation cards. Since I had company, I blindly relied on him for the 300 k ride.
The ride started around 5:30 am from Just Buy cycles in Velachery and the designated route took us through a few villages beyond Thindivanam.First time being on a roadbike for this extended period of time was an experience initself. I had also met Manjunath, my college buddy, during the ride who was doing it along with Actor Arya. Being on a roadie I met with this gang and rode along with them the entire stretch. This was my first encounter with him and I never knew who Arya was. On couple of ocassions he gave a broad smile and I reciprocated in kind. I asked Manju who he was. He uttered, pls google him. Then I got to know he was an actor and a fitness freak.
We had brakfast in Tindivanam around 10 am. It was a roadside dhaba and got to eat along with the cycling gang. After some idly and poori, we rode again and reached the 150 point. we were offered packet lunch and after a brief break we resumed back home along the GST route. The sun was scorching on return and had to take a few breaks along the way for tender coconuts, tea and for stretching. My quads and hamstrings were awfully paining. The worst was my butt. I was never on a saddle that long so the pain was inevitable. By around 7 pm, I reached Mahabalipuram. After reaching that spot, I gained confidence that the journey forward should be a an easy one as I knew the terrain and the road conditions. Though I did not invest in good lights, the sodium vapour lights offered refuge and I was easily able to navigate. After reaching Uthandi for the selfie, I got to meet with Venky who took a photo of me on the road. His words “you are an inspiration” gave a lot of boost to finish the remaining 15 kms without much struggle.
I finished my first 300 around 9 pm. It took a lot more time than I had imagined but the overall experience was really rewarding. Post finishing I took some photos and Arya gang also finished at the same time. We all took a group snap after reaching the finish point.
There are a few lessons I learned in my 300 journey:
- Don’t take periodic breaks, You don’t need them. You are in a seated position most of the time and whatever stretching you need can be achieved by standing up and flexing your muscles. if at all you need tea breaks, don’t exceed 5 mins.
- For breakfast, lunch and dinner, try to pack as much as you can and eat periodically every 30/40 mins. This is very important as you are on an edurance path.
- Blinkers, good lumen lights and spare tubes and puncture kits are very essential when you embark on rides that are more than 100 kms. Get trained as much as you can to fix your own bike.
- Don’t eat foods that are fibrous along the way. This will help toward visiting toilets often.
- Peloton rides are good as it prevents drag. But at the same time group rides can become costly with respect to time commitment. Most of the time your group dynamic may not suit your time commitment. So its good to keep your group small.
- In this ride, I was fortunate to be driving along with Manju gang and this helped me a lot to understand long distance cycling. The gears that they were using, few accessories that will aid in endurance, and chats on a few tips on endurance cycling were priceless.
- Last but not the least, the whole experience gave me a valuable lesson about endurance. The physical pain that I endured during the ride helped me to acquire a more calmer attitude toward life problems.