Cycling & Brevets

A Night Out With Angie

Ever since I got hooked on to Randonneuring in August this year, my darling wife bears a grudge against the ‘other’ love of my life. I’ve spent most weekends since then with this significant ‘other’ than with my wife and son.

It’s my wife’s fault for gifting me a Raleigh Adventure ATB in 2008 and got me off my lazy butt and into cycling…and then in 2012, I gifted myself a road bike, a sleek and shiny black beauty Trek 1.2. I named her ‘Angie’ after my favourite actress and thus began a love story, an affair to remember 🙂

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Initially, Angie was temperamental as hell, threw me off on our first ride together, got me bruised all over and cracked my helmet…but gradually we got used to each other  and we rode together for longer durations and as I moved out of my comfort zone and started doing longer rides I got to love her more and more.
One fine day in June this year, I packed her in my car and took her for a climb to Matheran. It was a beautiful rainy day and we rode up to Dasturi Naka….and boy did we enjoy it…I have always loved the mountains and now realised I loved riding up them too.

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So we made plans to tackle all the ghat sections around Bombay…Bhor Ghat, Kasara Ghat, Malshej Ghat, Mahableshwar, etc.

Then, quite by accident, I stumbled across the Randonneuring group…and did my first BRM200 on 17th August along with my buddy Don D’mello and his babe ‘Megan’ :-)…and we got hooked!!!!

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From Wikipedia -Randonneuring (also known as Audax in the UK, Australia and Brazil) is a long-distance cycling sport with its origins in audax cycling. In randonneuring, riders attempt courses of 200 km or more, passing through predetermined “controls” (checkpoints) every few tens of kilometers. Riders aim to complete the course within specified time limits, and receive equal recognition regardless of their finishing order. Riders may travel in groups or alone as they wish, and are expected to be self-sufficient between controls. A randonneuring event is called a randonée, brevet or sometimes by the more general term cyclosportive, and a rider who has completed a 200 km event is called a randonneur. The international governing body for randonneuring is Audax Club Parisien (ACP), which works with other randonneuring organisations worldwide through Les Randonneurs Mondiaux (RM). Randonneuring is popular in France, and has a following in the NetherlandsBelgiumUnited ingdomAustraliaUSACanadaBrazil and India.

It was my first ride over 50 km with Angie and despite the apprehension of jumping straight to a 200, it was fun. We stopped for breaks quite often, chatting up with fellow Randonneurs, helping out and being helped by them, enjoying the beautiful monsoon scenery and camaraderie amongst fellow riders.I did not miss another BRM in the 2012-2013 season since my first one and went on to do the BRM200 Igatpuri Express twice with a BRM300 Mum-Pune-Mum and the PBCh 5 Lavassa Hairpins from Hell in between.

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I missed the first ride of the 2013-14 season and started the new season with the BRM400 “Kem Cho” ride on 23rd November. Although I have ridden the 300 in the dark, this would be my first all nighter. Was quite apprehensive as to how I would deal with sleep deprivation and exhaustion and perhaps more importantly how my butt (people say it’s non existent, but it’s there, I know!!) would put up with being on the saddle for so long 🙂

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Took some tips from very experienced riders Mohinderji (Superman) and Anil Uchil who advised me to try and do as much of the route during the daylight hours and kept encouraging me during the ride.

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Reached the Charoti 100 km control point around 11 AM and the turnaround point at Chikali, 195 km, at 3:52 PM. So basically did almost 200 km in around 8 hrs 22 mins, a PB for this distance while doing a 400!!! Met up with Rakesh Patel, a very strong rider, at the turnaround point we rode back from there till the end, joined by Anil just after Vapi. We reached the 300 km point at Hotel Aaram around 10:15 PM or so and decided to nap for a while. Met up with Pankaj Patil and his foldie (Superman 2), Chandramouly, Kiran and couple of other riders…am bad at remembering names and must make it a point to socialize more at these rest stops :-). We started out for the last 100km leg knowing it would be the toughest, had to deal with some unruly motorists, exhaustion, the cold weather, fog, pain in the butt and shoulders. We had enough time in hand and decided together to take frequent breaks for tea and rest and finally made it to the Vasai Creek bridge just as a beautiful dawn was breaking. Reached the end control point together at 7:02 AM. BRM400 cracked!!! The feeling of completing was indescribable…and thanks to the companionship of Anil and Rakesh for getting me through an all nighter. Angie behaved well throughout the ride, no punctures or any mechanicals, but then she’s just paying me back for taking such good care of her 🙂

I don’t follow the healthiest of lifestyles, what with my unique ‘hydration’ (no, I don’t drink and ride!!) and smoking habits…carb loading for me is beer by the barrel. I don’t cycle to be fit, I cycle cos I simply love it….and because of this, and not to inconvenience other riders, I mostly ride alone. But I got to know the importance of riding as a group during night time on this ride. Just knowing that someone is riding with you gives you that extra feeling of comfort.

All in all, I have realised that any endurance ride is not just about fitness….it’s as much a battle of mind over body. I have a very simple mantra during a ride that I try to follow – I break up a ride into smaller ones…so I break up a 400 into 50km sections and take breaks at these points. Then it’s like…ok, 1/4th done, 1/2 done, 3/4ths done…done….BEER!!!  🙂

Next challenge is the BRM 600 in a couple of weeks…

I want to do the full series and become a Super Randonneur and in time I think I will achieve this goal, if not in the 2013-14 season, then for sure in the next season. In the meantime, I will continue my love affair with Angie and here’s to happy riding and Randonneuring 🙂

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