Last 2-3 months were really frustrating had a psoas muscle issue , so had to take a forced break of 2 months from any sport activity , I also had a lovely accident as well and I had a feeling my cycling stars were not quite in the right place and my cycling confidence was indeed quite low .
But I had one thing going for me , I wanted to dedicate a Mum-Pune-Mum ride to my late dad to honour his fight with lung cancer before his death anniversary on 17thAug , so I started cycling to office got to about 40k in a day and last weekend did a Dadar-Panvel-Dadar 80km as a practice for Mum-Pune-Mum , which was 4 times that distance , it was more on faith and motivation than any plan or fitness that I decided to go to Pune and come back .
My simple goal
I wanted to cycle Mum-Pune-Mum before 17thAug 2012 to salute my late dad’s fight with Lung Cancer .
Got my cycle serviced ,brake shoes changed to alligators and fitted rear view mirror , long handle bars fitted . Got SG-800 Btwin glasses , and decided to use the yellow glass as had a infection a week before the trip so wanted to minimize the strain on the eyes . Got a good shoe with a hard sole , Made sure I was doing regular stretches for my psoas for about 2 weeks , Packed my bag with 2 sets of clothes, towels and 2 locks , patch kit and first aid kit ,front and back lights , got a few nutrition bars and enerzals (the bag should have been lighter this was my 1stmistake).
Mumbai to Pune
So everything seemed right , woke up on 15thmorning at 6:30 and left Dadar at 7:30 am , which was late but then I am not an early person so was comfortable with the start time .
The day was perfect it was cool 27 degrees , black clouds hovering around my morale was high too . Till panvel it was a known route so went well , reached panvel at around 915 (the heavy bag had already started making a difference) took a 15 min break and after having a nutribar off to khopoli .
Along the way to khopoli it was picturesque , lush green all the way , took snaps of bhatsa dam and greenery and everything was going super cool , at the back of my mind I was worried of the ghats and how difficult it would be and whether I will pull my psoas etc , but the smooth and scenic road kept my apprehensions in control for now , reached khopoli by 1130 am .
By then I started feeling fatigued , I am not a breakfast person so had not eaten anything since morning except the nutribar , and I was really hungry now , and I went to a hotel just before the ghats for a heavy lunch , had a nice tea as well and around 12 noon I decided to face my first mountain ever :) .
Ghat mein lag gayi Vaat :):)
I had never cycled up a mountain before , my small exp of about 4 months in cycling was about climbing bridges in Mumbai and kailash complex in powai (something I was managing fine), and soon I realized climbing a ghat is a totally different ball game . The bag all of a sudden felt 50kg , the ill timed lunch made me even heavier and wow I was seeing a long and winding road with gradients of 15-20 degrees and I was totally in a daze and my confidence was fast getting brittle .
I also didn’t have clips/cleats and simple nylon base pedals were slippery my foot was not stable enough and controlling the cycle in a low gear was a challenge for me , and I had also never climbed with my butt out of the saddle so it was laborious to climb the ghat’s , to make matters worse the sun decided to visit the ghat’s and I huffed and puffed across the first few turns and stopped around the 5thturn really tired so reluctantly I stopped and gathered my thoughts.
I told myself the worst case is I will have to walk the ghat which is not bad so long as I complete the goal , at no point did I think I will quit and return it was not an option . So after a 10 min break I again mounted the bike and went another 2-3 turns and then after another break I reached the temple . After a few moments of bhakti and praying the ghat ends quickly J , I was back on the bike , then I realized that the place where the expressway meets the old ghat is not that far from the temple also the Amrutanjan point seemed just above the temple which refreshed my sombre mood a lot , by that time the sun also showed some mercy on me and wooohooo like magic it started raining , climate changes quite frequently in the ghats was nice to have the rain refresh me .
Soon I reached the place where the expressway was besides me and 2 roads went up , I made another mistake of excitedly taking the road going up in the clouds and over the amrutanjan point and to my dismay I had bypassed the expressway , I could not figure out how to get onto the expressway and locals told me to continue going up the old way and I was in the clouds and loving it in the rain at top of the ghats . I was very happy that the ghats had ended and spent around 1 hr+ taking in the sheer beauty of the ghats and surroundings , I was hardly able to see anything as the dense clouds were really beautiful and mesmerizing , had lovely butta too and leisurely I started again thinking the tough part is over .
But a little down the road I got a shock , noooooo there were a few more steep turns remaining , I reached a point where I again got down and walked the remaining 2 turns . I had taken 3 hrs in the ghats along with the breaks , it was a good learning experience and finally the difficult part was over and by 3pm I was back on the NH4 highway and on flat road :)
With the ghat gone and my spirits upbeat again , I cycled for 1 hr at a time and took 10 mins break per hr , climbed on a mini ghat near kamshet and reached Pune via dehuroad and chinchwad around 6pm , had some snacks at Aundh and soon I was at my aunty’s house .
Total time taken to Pune was about 10.5 hrs and cycling time of about 7.5 hrs .
Deadly combo , Sun ke saath wind free :)
On 16thmorning I started back to Mumbai around 9:30am , made sure I had a nice breakfast this time , I was thinking I will be able to go back in 8 hrs as this time I had to go down the ghat and on straight roads I was able to sustain around 20+ kmph , but alas my hopes were dashed as there was a strong head wind and the sun was beating me down , the harder I tried , more effort I spent and slower I got and I was averaging 15kmph even though the effort was for 20+kmph , I then realized why cycling is a team sport and how the conduit of 4+ men helps as they can take turns at the front and keep the men behind shielded from the wind and keep a fast pace that way … hmm it took me nearly 4 hrs to get to lonavala which was indeed very frustrating .
By 2pm I had done lunch at Rajmachi canteen at khandala , increased my bag weight even more with chikkis and fudge and started around 2 , spent 10-15 mins taking snaps on top of ghats , and started the descent which was the best fun I have had in a long time , the nice speed and twisting turns was indeed adventurous and enjoyed a lot , was the best part of the journey.
By 2:30 I was at Khopoli and I had 80 km to go , didn’t take another break except 2-3 mins in between to relieve my back of the huge weight of my bag , kept good rhythm and the next real break I took at rasayani , 12 km from panvel , the sun was really sapping my energy by now and bum was really painful and sore , spent some 20 mins near rasayani in the shade of a road side stall , rehydrated I started back , lot of traffic near panvel bridge delayed me but finally reached panvel around 4:30pm .
I started feeling really tired by then the sun was not going away , and the fighting with the wind initially was now taking its toll , I knew then the last 40 km were going to be one big struggle and so it was , I took about 2.5 hours for the last 35 kms taking a lot of breaks , and finally reached home around 7pm .
Pune-Mumbai took about 7.5 hrs of cycling and total time of about 10 hrs .
In conclusion I will admit it was a trip way beyond my fitness levels and in the end it was the motivation that saw me through . I will attempt the same again soon , but the good part is now I have a true benchmark of where I stand and I can only improve now , looking forward to making amends , hoping my experience also is beneficial to others in our group wanting to attempt mum-pune-mum .