One Earth, One Life, One Chance...Go Green

The Journey - A Score to Settle - Part I

Posted by Vikramsinh at Friday, October 7, 2011

What makes a great endurance athlete is the ability to absorb potential embarrassment, and to suffer without complaint. I was discovering that if it was a matter of gritting my teeth, not caring how it looked, and outlasting everybody else, I won. It didn't seem to matter what sport it was--in a straight-ahead, long-distant race, I could beat anybody. If it was a suffer-fest, I was good at it.
-Lance Armstrong (My Journey back to Life)

It’s a story about long journey, the quest for passion. My experience to participate in one of the oldest and most famous cycling events, Paris- Brest-Paris (PBP). Where the challenge is to ride 1230 kms in maximum of 90 hours. Total 10800 m of height gain which is equivalent to the height more than the height of Mount Everest. Burning approximately 35000 Kcal, spending sleepless nights. Though I could not complete it, the whole journey was amazing, full of ups and downs, extremely wonderful and rich experience. Kids, coffee, and cookies. What's really heart warming about PBP is the support the locals give the riders, whether it be coffee and cookies at 2 AM or an "allez! allez! allez! bonne route! bonne courage!" for all the time, we riders feel like sport stars.

And how it all started...

Around the mid of May 2011.
I was in serious confusion, the question that was giving me sleepless nights was go or not to go (to Paris for PBP 2011). I had already completed 200,300,400,600 kms brevets series within last 5 months, which was the qualifying criteria to participate in PBP, and now opportunity was knocking on the door, Mind full of thoughts - whether I should go to France for participating in Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 ..the prestigious and very famous long distance cycling endurance event which comes after every 4 years and has history of 120 years. The ride starts from suburban Paris, though Normandy and Brittany, out to the coast of Brest and back to Paris.

Few cyclist friends who were planning to go, contacted and asked me about my plans. The decision was not tough if I want to go by my heart but the expenses were also weighing too high. Calculations were showing the figure which was crossing 1 followed by five big zeros, that was lots of money. After few days of restless thinking, I decided to go by my heart. Booked my flight tickets on 17th May with other friends. Countdown began, this was the first time in the history that Indian riders were participating in the event. My plan was 3 weeks tour, 16 Aug- 4 Sep.Mind was clear now, no more confusions, I thought and started to work out on immediate next plan that was another adventure, trekking in Himalayas for 11 days in summer 19th to 30th May.

Horror of “B cubed”…

Coming back from the Himalaya trekking, fully refreshed, I started my preparations. I had two and half months for preparations. Next 2 weeks vanished quickly with regular practice on weekends. But that was not sufficient; the longest distance I covered was 600 kms in 38 hours during my brevet ride. I wanted to do at least one brevet 1000+ kms as a preparation for PBP. As a preparation one should give 110 % while training to face unfamiliar conditions in actual race. It was difficult to get such a long holidays for planning more than 1200 kms, so I was settled for 1000, the opportunity knocked, "B cubed" a 1000kms brevet to be completed in 75 hours in Bangalore. Bangalor-Belgaum-Bangalor (B Cubed) the straight route following the NH4. The plan was to start on 23rd june (Thursday) 4 PM from banglore go to belgaum and come back to banglor by 26th June (Sunday) 7 PM.

I registered for the same and left Pune on Wednesday night. There was fuss to place my bike inside luggage space, as bus driver was not ready. Somehow I succeeded in convincing him. Rest of the journey was peaceful sleep. Next morning, landed in Banglore. Spent whole day at friend’s place. Left for the brevet at 2 PM, before starting I wanted to get spare tube and cyclo computer (speedometer), locating the shop was pain, wasted too much time. I reached the starting point with 15 minutes left for all formalities.

It was raining heavily when we started in the evening on that day. I didn’t have raingear as I was confident about my inner power to fight with rain or cold conditions (which was overly optimistic). At the beginning riding with few other cyclists was joyful, rain was not looking fearful. Moving ahead while chatting with them, discussing the weather for next 2 days. As we moved rain became worse, after covering 50 kms I was all alone, it was dark and visibility was quite low due to rain. Around 7 PM while I thought it was too difficult to ride due to heavy rain, I stopped for 20 minutes and ate some food from backpack. Then next stop was at 9 PM, I stopped at one hotel for getting new water bottle, then started again ....

…and next thing I remember is ....I was seated in the small shop on the roadside, traffic was moving along the highway as usual. Two people were sleeping inside the shop. I looked at my watch, It was 1 AM in the night. My bike (cycle) was leaned against wall. Speedometer was showing 95 kms and I was feeling pain. I saw bruises on left side on my knee, elbow and abdomen, which was clearly indicating that I had crash which I couldn’t understand. I fell down on the left side but no serious injuries except swelling in the abdomen. Gradually I started gaining my consciousness back and tried to correlate the things. Then my cell phone rang, I got calls from my friend in bangalor and organizers, and from my mother, everyone was telling the same thing, something weird, that I called them and asked for help. But I didn’t remember calling to anyone of them, I heard from them that I was asking same questions repeatedly, I was not in the state to get any sudden shock.. 
I slowly understood, it was short term memory loss I was not able to recall any event after I bought water bottle from that hotel at 9 pm, how I crashed and landed in that shop which was on the opposite side of the road.

I was hungry so ate some food from my backpack. I was waiting for friends and organizers to come and it was 1 AM in the night. Bad news, My cell phone battery was dying, what to do now? If I lost the contact to friends then there was no other option but wait till morning also they were going to be worried much more about me. fortunately I remember about the spare battery in my backpack,thank god, I changed it immediately. It would have much difficult to locate me without my cell phone switched on. At last, after 3 hours, at 4 AM in the morning they succeeded in locating me. Car stopped, 3 people came out, to shop and 2 friends on motorbike. I was still not fully recovered and trying to figure out what was going on. They first inspected me for serious injuries , they found minor bruises and swelling, nothing major, they put my bike on the cycle stand attached to the backside of the car and started travelling towards banglore. Now I was feeling quite comfortable and tried to sleep. At 7 AM we were in banglore. It took 2 weeks for full recovery. 

...To Be Continued


Post a Comment