Dreamed........ Planned.......... Went through Challenges.......... Experiences…..… Passion................ Dream Achieved
Bicycle, We all had our best buddy in our school as well as even for college. However, after joining Rat Race of Professional Careers, we lost the bonding with our bicycle and our soul started moving on our Motorcycle. It’s not that, however I beg to differ with my own story.
On one Cool Foggy Morning, I was just heading towards Khadakwasala Dam on my Bullet and I just got amazed by couple of Cyclist with Helmets On and having Bright Blinking Tale Light and Powerful Headlight. It just clicked in my mind and one thought started ticking in the mind, that, have I really lost all this madness in so called day-to-day life?
And the Answer was BIG NO. Finally went to Surindar Cycles, Karve Road and got my Schwinn Searcher, Hybrid bike (Earlier we used to call Bikes only to Motorbikes). Started with just riding 10-15-25 kms on Weekends. After that, I did few rides with Lifecycle for 45-60 kms and felt proud of myself. Then had few long rides with Cymour and Giant Group and broke the 100 kms barrier. One has to experience this feeling of Content as I did after initiating this pursuit for a long lost passion.
Until then I was totally unaware of BRMs and Endurance Cycling. Had encountered with Cyclist on NH4 while coming back from Kolhapur or Mahabaleshwar in Cycling Gear and Rider No placed in front and back. Just wondered and thought that, there might have some cycling race or something else. Finally got the answer last year, when got to know that, there is a Felicitation Ceremony for PBP Riders and BRM Riders, organized by Cymour and Pune Randonneurs. Went there with my 8 Yr Old Son (who does 50 60 Km cycling with me at this age) and got a brief idea of BRM and SR (Super Randonnear) Title. That very day I decided of attempting Endurance Cycling.
Went to Mari Aai Ghat with Cymour Team and while chatting with Yogesh Shinde (Cymour Group) he truly inspired and encouraged me to start with a 200 kms BRM the coming weekend. Till that day, my longest ride was 150, however, 200 Kms, seemed to be impossible. He told me that, it is the easiest BRM and you can easily complete.
Had a discussion at Home and Registered for the event. With some hiccups and technical issues, could register for it. Was mentally prepared for my 1st Endurance ride of 200 Kms. Route was Pune University – Lavasa - CCD Chandani Chowk - Khandala Rajmachi Top and back to Baner. Flagged off at 6 am and was overwhelmed by the support and motivation got by co-riders when they got to know that, it’s my 1st BRM. Understood that, it’s very tough to ride alone and when you are aware, that, you don’t have any experience of riding such kind of rides. Successfully completed my 1st BRM well in time with an enriching experience. It was like dream come true.
Now, keeping in mind the previous experience from my 1st ride, started discussing with my cycling friends who have done BRMs and got the guidance about proper bike gear. Now, I was all the more prepared for my next challenge.
The Next Challenge taken was SR (Super Randonneur).
Enrolled for Audax Membership through Randonneurs Pune Club and Registered for 1st BRM of the ACP Calender Year for 200 kms, Route – Pune- Satara – Pune. Completed well in time and learned about the proper cadence, when and how to take short breaks with maximum recovery, how to ride with co-riders and make perfect buddies for long rides. Made friends, who taught me lot of basic things riding BRMs.
Now at this point I felt confident to enroll for 300 kms BRM, which was known as the toughest BRM, as it was through unending Pasarni Ghat. Registered for the event, however, still was in doubt, whether will be able to complete or not. Had a chat with Experienced Riders for fixing the Strategy for Riding, like, where should I reach at what time, which will help me to reach the Control Point with comfortable margins. Flagged Off from Pune and reached Pasarani Base well in Time. Pasarani itself took more than an Hour to complete and reached 1st CP at Mahabaleshwar TOP with keeping 40 min in hand for the Cut-Off time. Once reached Mahabaleshwar, it was like Almost done feeling. With having descend of Medha Ghat, enjoyed the scenic views and reached Satara by 4 PM. Now, we know that, it’s a cake walk for us till Pune, if, everything goes well (If no punctures on the way). Rode with decent pace till Pune and reached last CP by 11 PM against the Cut Off of 2 AM. With encouragement, motivation and support from fellow riders, again completed the BRM well in Time with a great feeling of Half SR Done.
It was a huge boost for me as well as my Family, that, in such a short span of time I am on the way of my Dream of completing SR. It was like Fairy Tale till now. Now the challenge, was of Night Riding, which I had never done, which was the difficult part of 400 and 600 BRMs, which were in line to complete the SR Series.
Done with the registration for 400 BRM, which was till Yellur (Before Kolhapur) and back to Pune. Though it’s a rolling route, now I have had enough experience of such tiring rolling route. With the help of previous 2 rides, we had built our Team who were riding with similar pace and participating in this event. 1 day before, we made our plan/Strategy with discussing each and every parameter and probable breaks, which we were supposed to take. Flagged Off from Pune University Gate and started off well. As per plan, we were riding and reached our 1st CP well in time at Yellur by 4.30 PM, took our 1st Meal of the day with Dal Rice and then by 5.30 PM started our return journey, with determination to reach Satara CP by 10 PM, when the Cut-Off was 2.30 AM. Reached Satara CP at 10.30, got the Brevet Card Stamped and got some rest for 1 Hr., in Over-confidence to complete our BRM early by Mid-night only, started paddling our last leg of 100 kms towards Pune. As it was the 1st Experience of Night Riding, got the learning in very 1st hour after Satara, that, without having 1 or 2 Hr complete rest/Sleep, it’s very very difficult to ride for the entire night. Somehow, reached Khambataki top by 2 AM. Just while we were parking our bikes, got to know that, one of our co-riders’ both the Tyre were punctured and now we will be having our 1st encounter with Tube Replacement. Instead of taking rest, which we had planned earlier, got the hands-on experience of Tube Replacement. After 1 Hr, started again, however, the joy of Khambataki descend ended just after that, when got a call from my co-rider, that, again 1 of his Tyre had ditched on the Khambataki descend. Went back to Khambataki Base and gave him 1 of my spare Tube, which I was carrying as a reserve. Replaced that with little ease and again pushed off towards Shirwal. After crossing Shirwal River bridge again got the signal, that, again he had same Tyre issue. Now, destiny was challenging our limits, he was a little demotivated with his 4th tyre puncture. Now we used the last Tube which I was carrying with me, with confidence, that, after that, we will not have any flat Tyre, otherwise it will be DNF (Did not Finish). We got it replaced and checked the Tyre thoroughly and found one tiny metal pin, which had been testing us for last 3 Hrs. It was now 5.30 AM and left with just 3.30 Hrs for the last Cut-off. Heartbeats went up and the pace as well. By 7.30 AM crossed Katraj descend and it was a relief sign, that, now we can easily complete. By 8 AM reached CCD, our last CP with lot of learning and hands-on experience, which made us stronger for future rides.
Now, I was just 1 ride away from my Dream SR Title, which I had kept very close to my heart for the past 1 year.
Finally, done with the registration for 600 Kms BRM. With this BRM, now I was going to cross the State Border on my cycle. It was a great feeling and it was my last ride for the SR Title. At Pune University Start Point, we were 5-6 Riders, who were riding for the SR Title. Everyone, who was there, wished us Best Luck, which sailed through with us for the entire ride. Flagged Off at 6 AM and as per the plan reached Khambataki base by 9 AM and had a short break for refreshments. Again started with refilled energy and managed to reach Umbraj in time. Before, Umbraj, one of our fellow rider had an accident and was seriously injured. It was the 1st incident we came across, from our BRMs, which created some tension in everyone’s mind present there. Support Team helped him to shift him to the Hospital and we started off to reach our 1st CP by 12.30. Had a very short break and pushed ourselves to Sai International, Yellur, which we have planned to reach by 4.30 PM. However, took a lunch break at Karad itself, as due to 30 31 temp, got exhausted very early. Took a slightly long break and reached Yellur at 5.45 PM. To complete 200 Mark. Now, we were having a Team of Four, who were riding alongside for last 100+ kms. It was getting difficult by each passing hour. Crossed State Border by 8 PM and reached Tavandi Ghat by 9.45 PM. Had Dinner somehow and reached Shankeshwar by 11.15 PM against the Cut-off of 1.40 AM. With hard experience of 400 BRM for not taking proper sleep, took proper rest for 2 Hrs and then started our return journey at 1.30 Mid-night. In Chilling temp, rode for 1 hr and took 10 min short break. After every 1 Hr, had a short break of 5-10 Min and paddled till Yellur CP by 7 AM. Got Amazing Experience for riding Entire Night. Freshened Up at Sai International with decent Break-fast and by 8.30 we pushed off for Satara, where we had planned for Lunch. Yellur to Satara, the Rolling Terrain checked all my stamina and willpower. Reached Satara by 2 PM and waited for Lunch for my co-riders till 2.30 PM. Finally decided to start ahead once one of my fellow rider reached there. All three joined there and I started my last leg of 100 kms ahead of them. With heroic speed reached Khambataki Top in 1.15 Hrs, where, normally I take 2 Hrs. It gave me a little bit comfort and had some energy bars and homemade paratha. Refilled my water bottles and again started paddling towards Pune. With Khambataki descend reached Shirwal very comfortably. Met one of My Fellow-rider at Shivapur Toll Naka, who was from Belgaum and then we both rode the last 40 km alongside. Finally, after grueling 38 Hrs paddling reached the last CP of Starbucks Coffee, Aundh to complete my last BRM of the SR series.
It was like winning a battle. All Emotions, went through in all these BRM Rides with full of experiences, learning.
Total Distance Traveled 1500 Kms. Total Time Taken to complete the SR Series - 91.30 Hrs (Saddle Time – 65 Hrs) against the stipulated Time of 100.30 Hrs. to get the most cherished title of Endurance Cycling – Super Randonneur.
This experience has left me stronger, wiser and humbled and will help me in all walks of life. All I can say is that if one can Think of Achieving Big, then Success surely follows. Take my word for that.
AIR is Audax India Randonneuring/Long Distance or Endurance Cycling Club, which is extension of ACP Audax Club Parisian or Paris. It organizes BRMs or Brevets of 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 and 1200 km across the ACP Calendar Year (I.e. November to October). Each Rider has to finish the ride in the stipulated time frame to get the homologation. Each Rider who finishes 200, 300, 400 and 600 kms BRMs within the Stipulated Time Frame in the ACP Calendar Year becomes SR (Super Randonneur)