Posted by Vikramsinh at Sunday, August 11, 2013
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John Bingham says, “ The miracle is not that I finished the race, the miracle is that I had the courage to start”. Let us therefore sign up and get cracking. And what if I don’t finish this year ? Well, how will I know until I try ?
“You never know how tall you are
Until you’re asked to rise
And then if you are true to plan
Your stature touches the sky”
Back ward Tracing !
It was dark and cold night, road traffic was moving on the national highway. I saw less traffic on the road due to odd timing, and moon was illuminated to its full capacity. I could see all the trees , farms, small huts, civil structures on both sides of the road. Riding in the night was bit relaxed and easy .. moon light was helpful and different shapes of tree were creating illusions of actual living beings. Clouds were strangely attractive with gold, silver, or any other colored designs. Only time when I enjoyed night riding. I was feeling tired and sleepy but also need to reach next control. I took short stops and naps for 10 minutes at the road side. But I was not able to sleep as traffic on the road was too noisy for serene and peaceful night. Just rested and ate few items from backpack. I slowly rode towards Hubali, suddenly rain started after 40kms, I was searching for good place for sleeping. I found one dhaba where 2 small boys were preparing tea , 4 o’clock in the morning. I stopped and asked for tea, boy looked friendly after talking to him, I told all the things about my ride and asked if I can sleep for some time. He was happy to help , I had tea and slept on bamboo bed. No alarm set, I was wearing jacket but feeling cold. Sleep overtook and body felt good as it got some rest.
Woke up at 5.10AM, 23rd June 2013 Saturday, 1 hour sleep and I felt bit fresh, one more tea, bottles refilled and I was ready to go. I thanked him and left.. it was bit difficult to walk in the mud on the road side. Soon I was feeling heavy stomach and searched for suitable place. One more dhaba, place to stop, searched for toilet and found one in good condition, relief for stomach. I had paper soaps handy for such situations. Again started riding with dawn spreading light over the Earth. Kept eating roti, chikki, almonds, kismis etc. Somehow I lost track of time and mis calculated the distance to reach Hubali. I was going at good pace so thought it near. As I was constantly thinking of missed dinner last night and cautious about eating, I stopped for breakfast at Kamat. I dried my shoes by stuffing news paper in it and had 4 idlees. There I saw one watch on the wall which indicated that I was in trouble, 6.35 AM. I asked waiter how much distance I have to cover to reach Hubali and he said 40kms , time remaining – 1.5 hours , though distance and time were proportionate in normal conditions , I saw it was posing me challenge as I already covered 570kms. I hurriedly ate and left within 5 minutes ..6.40 AM .
Here started race against time, I increased pace and pushing higher gears. My training was paying well , I felt strong on climbs. Weather was clean, no rain and sun was out. This made some positive changes in mind and how I was feeling. Soon after one toll booth I saw one rider ahead ..I already lost hope to meet one, and my mind was dancing in rainbow of happiness. I pedaled fast to reach him and talked, Ashok provided me valuable information about location of other riders, distance to cover and time limits. He also told about few events from his journey. We need to move fast, I suggested him to follow my wheel, he was on hybrid bike. He suggested me to go ahead and catch Snadeep who was riding 2 kms ahead. I wanted to ensure I was following correct route as mentioned in the cue sheet, and didn’t want to waste time in asking people for directions. Entering in Hubali was tricky, we need to navigate through some of the twisting roads which I skipped while I was passing through same city. The known route for me was 10kms longer than cue sheet, with tight time lines I couldn’t afford to ride extra miles and still make it to the control in time. So I increased speed to 30+ and zoomed on climbs. I was sure to catch up Sandeep as there were multiple climbs on the way and I was climbing fast. After few ups and downs I saw Sandeep and relaxed my pace as I need to ride with him for directions. I also saw big truck lying in the trench close to road, might have toppled in the night. Slowly I closed down the gap, and had good conversation for almost 10 kms to the control, He was riding at steady pace and was looking fresh. Last few kms were bumpy , road conditions were not good. Sandeep told me that there are 2 more riders other than Ashok riding behind, Kalpesh and Sohan. Sohan had crash at the long speed breaker. Kalpesh was riding on MTB with broad tires. I imagined the efforts required to ride such long distance on MTB.
Once we reached at control, we swiped our cards and collected slip. We were relaxed as time on the slip was showing that we reached control 15-20 minutes before closing time. We went to Kamat and ordered breakfast. While talking to Sandeep I came to know many stories of other riders. Total 21 riders started and currently 6 were on the road.
Story1- Deepak got problems with his bike derailleur. Broken pulley from derailleur and he tried to convert it into single speed but not able to do so as chain length was not fitting well. Fortunately he had one extra chain which he used to convert his bike to single speed. He rode almost 450kms with this with Raman. What a courage and efforts. He also fell down on the same long speed breaker. The same truck which I saw lying in the trench brushed him previous night, he rode ahead and didn’t looked back. Due to missing time limits for next control both quit.
Story2- Ashok and Kalpesh reached the control ATM only 1 minute to spare. This was very close and when they reached to ATM it tossed same error to them, “this card is unauthorized”, Sandeep called chiddu and asked if he can take photograph as evidence and he said yes. I imagined the last minute rush to control .. it was so close.
Story3- Karthikeyan was riding continuously without sleep, He reached Belgaum (510kms – 28hours) at 8PM , he was riding on MTB, it was tremendous show of strength and determination.
Soon Ashok and Kalpesh arrived and able to get ATM slips within time limits, this time not 1 minute rush but ..still not much cushion , only 6-8 minutes. Now we were more relaxed as remaining 400kms we need to complete in 35 hours compared to first 600kms which we completed in 40hours. We had good breakfast and talked about next plans of riding and sleeping. I thought to sleep for 3-4 hours at some hotel or so. I was feeling fresh, called parents, friends and left alone. Others were taking time for food etc, Sohan missed the control, I felt bad, it was unfortunate.
Once out on the road my knee was bit painful not to the extent to stop me but tingling. More painful I felt about my bum and stopped now and then to apply Vaseline but it pain was not alleviating. As I didn’t find any hotel soon, I decided to sleep under tree, bit away from road to avoid traffic noise. Road was muddy and full of grass in all directions. It was amazing place to sleep after so many hours of riding. Slept at 11 AM and set alarm for 1 PM , again sleep overtook all the senses. I woke without any alarm noise and checked time in mobile thinking that I didn’t hear alarm, to my surprise it was only 12 PM , felt fresh and energetic. So I started again..
Now again same stretch arrived where I slogged fighting with head winds while going towards Belgaum. Monotonous riding with nothing much on the way . Difficult to find restaurants. I found one and hopped inside to have good lunch. Outside rain started again and luxury of riding in sun was gone. I rode at bit slow speed so as to keep my shoes dry. Nothing much happened for next 2 hours. Around 5 PM , I again stopped for meal . Need to be very careful about food and water. After eating I felt it’s time to use washroom.
Once again I was back on the road, bum was painful beyond imagination. Again stopped on and off to apply Vaseline. Also put my spare shorts upside down over the original short I was wearing. Bit of relief but not to make me comfortable. By 6 PM I was able to reach 700kms mark. My frequency of stops increased, at one of my stops – 2 mobikeres stopped to ask about my journey. One of them was more enthusiastic and excited to learn about me. He asked about the Prize money, I told more details. He said.. “hey come on , sit on the mo-bike, I will give you lift for 5kms “. I politely refused and started again.
One stop for water and next for food at 9PM . I was careful as my roties were over so I had to depend on Dhabas. I talked to boy at Dhaba who was very energetic in serving the food. I had dal rice, 2 cup of coffees to keep me awake. Boy said one of the riders went ahead 30minutes back. By description I figured out he was talking about Ashok. I was feeling bit tense, I need to reach next control by 2 AM, 50 kms to go and sleep was making me dizzy. I stopped multiple times, tried to sleep at the road side but traffic noise was worse. Slowly I felt good, and moon was out to light my way. Reached chitradurga control at 12.30AM . Bought 6 bananas , 4 in back pockets. Started again. By this time I rode 800kms and almost realized my goal. Next few kms were painful for bum. I stopped few times to search for place to sleep. At one small dhaba/shop or whatever you can say it . I found bamboo bed and people sleeping. As soon as I stopped riding, I felt cold, I slept with 3layers, one short sleeve jersey, next was full hand T-shirt, and then rain jacket , it was 3 AM and plenty of time to reach Bangalore.
Woke up at 5AM , Sunday 24th June 2013, last day of my ride. Started riding and met Sandeep,Kalpesh on the way. They were riding together for most of the returning distance. We talked lot, had good time as sun came out. I stopped for early morning washroom break. Again rode alone and soon closed the gap to reach them. Breakfast at Sira, Kamat gave me energy to ride ahead. I put 4 bananas in back pocket and I was ready to go. 9AM and 900+ kms and I was feeling fresh. Maximum time for completion was 7PM but I didn’t want to stop now, If I reach before 2 PM them I would able to complete the ride sub 70 hours. Again race against time, I rode with high pace pushing bigger gears , By this time bum pain was alleviated but now Achilles tendon got painful, pain above the heel was not stopping me but it was there, rode last 100kms with medium severity pain, I was very happy to see many riders on the way. Because 5 brevets (200,300,400,600,1000kms) were planned on the same route in such a manner that each would going to terminate at same time (7PM on Sunday) and place. Now last 100kms were fast as I wanted to finish this ride as soon as possible, go home and take shower. I was feeling fresh and no sleep in eyes. Stretch was full of uphills and I enjoyed it. Last 15kms though the city was full of traffic, but I was thinking only about finish. I reached at last control ATM and to my surprise it was 1.30PM , wooohooo .. I was basking in the glory.
Total time - 69hr 32min
On bike - 47hr 25min
Off bike - 22hr 7min
Total Sleep - 6hr 30min
Finally this long long long journey came to end. We met lot of riders at CCD, had sumptuous lunch and lot of phone calls, happy smiles, photos, everyone was wishing us for great achievement. Karthikeyan joined after some time as he rode 1000 and 200 km brevets back to back with same time limit as 1000kms on MTB what a piece of unbelievable achievement. We shared Happy moments.. and celebrations. I felt fresh and happy as I rode back to my friends place which was 25 kms away from the finishing point…
|Five finishers from left - Vikram (me), Sandeep, Kalpesh, Ashok, Karthikeyan|
Finally mind was at peace, I was able to finish the incomplete task on my list..and relived through emotional moments. I also realized the importance of training and thought how ill prepared I was when first time I participated in Paris-Brest-Paris (2011) and failed, I didn't get proper guidance from other riders at that time and was new to understand the whole body dynamics. It was carrying big misconception that if I rest more, I will able to save my energy for ride at that time, this is only true in the last week where you taper your workouts. Otherwise you need to ride consistently as per training plan. (I earlier mentioned my plan in the first part of this story). Training is the most important thing to prepare your body for arduous efforts and pain. After that mechanicals, equipments, food, hydration follows. Riding such a long distance with so many variables needs lots of training/preparations in right direction, if you disrespect the distance/climbs/weather or think it’s easy then you will face consequences. Not many people can do it on this earth and I felt really lucky that I was able to finish it with elan. Countless people helped me and I will always be grateful to all of them. It was life time experience and will cherish the memories for all my life. With this thought I started to read next item on my wish list … :-)