Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Second Brevet - 300 BRM Freedom Ride

After completing 200 BRM on June 21st 2013 (ECR Classic 200 BRM) was enjoying the success for too long that I didn't practice for quiet sometime. Even registered for 400 BRM for July but dropped out on last minute as I wasn't feeling well. During that period Kandappa Sir posted in Madras Randonneurs about a crash course he is willing to take for folks who are interested in attempting 200 / 300 BRM. Didn't think twice before requesting him to consider me as well and from then on no looking back. Took the practice rides seriously and followed it religiously. 

Me and my worries!

Couple of things I was worried about were:

  • I have never rode during night time on highway and was little worried on whether my headlight would be powerful enough to show me the way. 
  • Never during a ride I had ate anything apart from energy bar, tender coconut, Gatorade or Juices. But for a 20 hours ride one can't survive like that alone.

To overcome this fear I decided to face it and see what exactly happens instead of sitting on a sofa with a worried face. On 27th July started my ride after sunset. Chose Ramapuram - Porur toll gate - Tambaram and Loopback to Ramapuram as a route which I had never rode before. Once I crossed Porur toll gate after few minutes it was pitch dark and I was depending only on my Headlight. The fear was there for few minutes so I was pedaling as slow as possible and then I got used to the situation. After 10 minutes it became like a meditation - Me, My cycle and the Road that's it. I covered 41 kms in 1 hr 54 mins and felt more comfortable on handling the night portion of the event.

On 3rd August took a long ride on NH45 along with my friends and chose that to be my practice ride for eating during the ride and try to do the whole stretch in 2 - 7 gear combination as much as possible. Started at 4.15 AM and we reached Maduranthakam by 8.15 AM. Took breakfast there and was hoping my stomach doesn't get upset with my new decision :) Reached home at 2:15 PM and all was well.

Let's go Shopping

On the day before the event visited Nuts n Spices in Nandambakkam to purchase few things needed for the ride. Bought Gatorade and Energy bar but the more time i spent there more I was feeling that everything would come in handy on the ride day :) 

Ok the fun(?!?) part was I didn't even carry 1/4 of what I had purchased as my backpack was overweight already :) Btw do we really need to carry a backpack? That's a debate for another day but I am used to carrying 3 to 4 kg with me so no issues.

Get - Set - Go

Arrived on the venue just 5 minutes before start, got the cycle inspected and Brevet card sealed by Partha quickly. As did on my earlier BRM again started slowly and rode under 20 kmph for ~15 minutes before settling on my regular speed. Mid way to the first control point met Raghav, SaiRam and from then on we rode together. The plan was to ride along with Raghav till the second control point (102 kms) where he would take the U turn towards Chennai while myself and SaiRam would continue our 300 Kms journey.

On the Vandallur - Kelambakkam stretch got a chance to meet Vel Annamalai (One of the few persons in Chennai who have completed 1000 kms already). We rode together for few minutes before he sped away. After crossing Chengalpattu toll gate had our breakfast at Hotel Nellai and reached the second control point at 10.56 AM. Varun Spike, Vallab was manning this control point and Vallab was seen doing some stretches for another rider.

By the time we reached the control points all water CANs have already been emptied by other riders :) That's where my backup Gatorade bottles came handy. Refilled our water bottles in a shop after crossing Melmaruvathur and then continued our journey towards the 3rd control point @ 152 kms. 

Mentally started noting down hotels on the way - 18 kms before U turn point Vasantha Bhavan (veg), 12 kms before U turn point there was another Veg hotel, Hardly 2 kms from U turn Point Hotel Anjapaar (Non Veg) just in case we didn't find any good hotels near the control point where prepared to ride to one of these hotel to have our Lunch.

At last reached that control point at 1.35 PM and Guru welcomed us with some good photo clicks. We rested for few mins and took the U turn towards Chennai. Both of us first thought of having our lunch at Anjapaar as its logical to go to the nearest hotel. But on nearing that place we were not so comfortable and decided lets go to the next one at 12 kms. Just stopped to buy couple of water bottles and continued our ride towards the next hotel. On reaching that SaiRam didn't like it because there wasn't any customers in the hotel at that time so decided to go to Vasantha Bhavan itself :) So started riding for another 6 kms for lunch. Had full meals and started to continue our return journey. Few mins into the ride noticed the first problem of the day! Was not able to bring the gear down to 2 - 6 :( Tried my best but the shifter was too hard and because of the fear that it might break I stopped trying further and decided to ride the remaining distance in 2 -7 itself. Though it wasn't so tough on a flat surface but climbing bridges was really challenging. 

Unlike 200 BRM the terrain wasn't flat and there were lots of bridges to climb - was wondering why the hell do they need to build so many bridges :) The below image posted in MR FB page sometime back is what came to my mind immediately.

During this period as well we did manage an Average of around 21 kmph and as planned halted at Sangeetha Restaurant in Vandallur for dinner. That's where started getting the pain back on the ligament tear which I had very long time back on my left knee. I still believe this should be because of the extra strain on my legs as I wasn't able to bring down the gear since ~175km point.

Post dinner took the Vandallur - Kelambakkam road and was really surprised to see the roads weren't properly lit!! I believe there are many colleges on that stretch and at least they should take steps to have proper road lights on that stretch for safety of their college hostel students.

Reached the next control point which is an ATM at 9.10 PM. It wasn't working so took a snap in-front of the ATM along with SaiRam and started riding towards Velachery Just Buy Cycles (Finish Point) which we managed to reach at 10.28 PM.

Very happy to have completed 300 Kms ride comfortably and after resting for sometime thought of riding back home which is just another 12 kms. As the mind knows that the event is over it started finding reasons for not riding back home. So after phoenix mall took an auto and loaded my bike in it and started to return home. The auto driver was curious on what I have been up to with my cycle at this time of the day :) tried explaining him about the event and looks like he was quite impressed. On reaching home gave Rs. 250 which he had actually asked for that short 12 Kms distance claiming late night!!, tough to get customers from there to his home etc., but to my surprise he returned Rs. 100 and said that's enough sir. He asked me to take care of my health and get some hot water bath that night :) 

Overall the training scheduled provided by Kandappa sir was really useful and it prepared me physically and mentally for the ride. Thanks a lot sir. Looking forward for your training schedules for 400 BRM now :)

Hope you enjoyed reading my experience! Happy Cycling.

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