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The Journey - A Score to Settle - Part VI

Posted by Vikramsinh at Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is not Disneyland, or Hollywood. I'll give you an example: I've read that I flew up the hills and mountains of France. But you don't fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill, and maybe, if you work very hard, you get to the top ahead of everybody else.
 -Lance Armstrong

The Ride – Night Two…Uncertainty Principle

Night has always its own flavor of riding. Night looks beautiful when you see full moon in the sky but when its dark, strange and silent it scares you.

During the second night, I began to see the headlights of returning riders—those working as teams, with support at controls attending to every need. These were the randonneurs who would finish the ride in under 50 hours. They were riding like buzzing machines, cutting the distance with high speed. I felt envious about them and of course respect.

Out of secret control, I met couple of friends who told me its IT band pain and advised to try some exercises. I rode for an hour, pain was bit reduced which allowed me to ride non stop till next control. I was loosing the grip on the time limits to reach control points.

The road was illusive when it seemed like road was sloping downwards, the actual bike speed indicated otherwise. Riding alone in the night was bit scary, few cyclist crossed, over the time period. I felt my headlights were not good enough to show me the road. Batteries dying or may be some internal connection problem due to rain. Tapping the lights was temporary solution which worked for me in my previous rides. So, on one of the uphills, while climbing slowly, I tried to do some adjustments to headlights, tapping etc, and ..

Front part of light was off, flying on the road and it was totally dark. Only light remaining was the light on my helmet. Next moment I saw one car is coming in the same direction, sudden thought of getting my headlights crushed under its wheels caused panic. Adrenaline rushed, legs moved quickly. Standing in the middle of the road, I stopped the car and picked up the lights, moved back to roadside. It was terrible. Within next few minutes I fixed the light, working fine.. fortunate.. I started moving again.

The next incident followed very quickly. Bike was going downhill with good speed, more than 60kms/hr, following the red lights of riders ahead. Then at the end of downhill, a sudden sharp turn, the lights I followed turned illusive, as they were quite far away from me. Divider was just ahead, I applied brakes hard,
and …booommm!!!

Bike skidded within no time. This time, no serious injuries once again. Dreadful feeling surged the moment I thought about the bike, how much damage it caused damn it. Looking in the darkness, I tried to figure out, Chain was out of place. No other damages .. wohaaa….Fixing the bike was easy part. Soon I was back on the bike.

High speed needed now, time limits for next control - too close. I managed to reach the control just in time. "Loudéac" - 3 AM. Pain returned and eyes started shutting down quite frequently. It was time to get some sleep, planned for 1.5 hours sleep. The control was quite warm compared to chilly night outside. Gloves, shoes, socks were out on the table, all wet. I felt bit relaxed to getting rid off the wet feeling. I already missed last night’s dinner, and feeling hungry. I bought dinner, my plate was full, too many items. After eating some rice, pasta and vegetable soup I was done. That was not like typical me, wasting food. ‘What’s happening, my mind and body are not working coherently’ I thought. Mind was saying I should eat to cover up lost minerals, carbs, proteins but body refused to take any. That landed me in wasting too much of the food, almost three forth part in the plate.

Being the central control, “Loudéac” soon becomes a hub of hubbub, with riders from both directions trying to refuel, sleep, repair bikes and themselves. Signs of attrition are everywhere, with riders curled up in every corner, shivering under silver space blankets, on tables, under tables, on floors, outside in the rain (with and without space blankets). I followed my own way, 3 chairs lined up in a row beside the same table where I ate and I was flat, within few minutes I lost the surrounding sensations.
When my senses were back, I suddenly woke up with extreme fear
‘How much time I lost in sleeping.’ I realized that I forgot to set alarm. ‘what time is it?’.. 5 AM in the morning. ‘ahh.. not too late’. Sleep of 2 hours was not enough. Total of 3 hours of sleep in last two nights. I put my things in place hurriedly and came outside. Body felt sudden gust of cold wind. The surrounding was wet and cold, body started shivering. I was feeling exhausted and didn’t want to ride in such cold weather, but there was no escape. The next target was gradually turning difficult, at 525 kms "Carhaix". Within 3.5 hours 75 kms.

The Ride – Day Three…Backscatter 

I started to ride in the direction of "Carhaix" . Rain was stopped but cold, chilly winds were making life miserable. Sun was hiding behind the clouds, after few kilometers I saw long uphill, and pain was back, for every pedal rotation, knee was absorbing pain. Going uphill was great task with bad knee.

At the top of the hill and thirst prevailed, I looked down to bottle cage..“damn it, what is this, where are my bottles???”, to my surprise both the bottles were not at there place. What the hell..!!!
Suddenly I realized the last night crash beside the divider.. When my bike skidded. Both bottles were out their on the road but I could not realized that until now, it was too dark to see those bottles. No clue about the next water station, I turned back to the nearby place where volunteers were providing water. More painful thing – riding in reverse direction, to come back and lose height. while riding back, riders crossing me were confused that I was quitting. I heard the encouraging words.."courage". I reached to the place, purchased new bottle. After quenching the thirst, I rode back to hill top, nature was best part to enjoy, and clock was ticking, "Carhaix" by 9 AM. Go go go …

...To Be Continued


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