This June 14th I participated in my second 200 km Brevet. The apprehension in self was there just as it had been during my first Brevet in April and somehow I felt my fellow riders in Saddle Up had more trust in my abilities than I had in my own.
The last Brevet to Bor had been a tough one, and I had had a dismal finish time (12hr 45min). This was one of the reasons why I felt after applying various theories of mathematics subjected to supposed cross winds and predicted rains after breaking down the distances, that, perhaps I would not be able to complete the 300 km Brevet in the stipulated time. Thinking thus, I decided to participate in the 200 km Brevet in the hope that a better time this Brevet would be a better mental stimulant when and if I were to prepare for a 300 km Brevet.
The route for the 200 km Brevet was along the NH 69 starting from Zero Mile in Nagpur (MH), up to the 100 km reporting point at Teegaon (MP). I reached the starting point at about 4.15 am laced with my stock of Electral sachets and a packet of dates. The sky being overcast since the day before, I had different plastic bags for different stuffs – Electral, dates, wallet and my mobile.
A total of 24 bikers, 13 for the 200 km and 11 for the 300 km Brevet started from the Zero Mile point at 4.30 am sharp. Front and rear lights blinking, all with reflective vests, helmets and other cycling gear and in full gusto to make the most of the pleasant temperature and the empty roads – the scene was sufficient to make any one want to take up cycling.
With everyone pretty close to each other, the first flyover after the Pagalkhana chowk was where the first segregation took place. The riders on road bikes were now pretty much ahead and as the dawn broke all I could see was the blinking of the rear red lights in the distance. By the time the third fly over was over I was alone. About 10 guys ahead of me, and I was somewhere in the middle.
Pedaling pretty much alone, I reached Saoner bypass, our first check point, at 6.00 am. Coming across known humans on long stretches spent all alone is such a welcome sight. Rajesh Sir, Mahesh Sir, Saurabh and Mukul were waiting at this 35 km checkpoint. Bananas and water never felt so heavenly as they did now. A bit of stretching and I was on the roads again. The roads were nice and so was the weather.
About 30 kms ahead, I reached a board stating – Welcome to Madhya Pradesh. And trust me, this was such a big high. Cycling from one state into another gives you something to brag about for your whole life 🙂 And I had earned it.
However the inclines were now starting. The first one in MP was the one over a curve which sapped me up. Luckily Badchicholi soon presented itself and I could take a halt. I was determined to be on the saddle for longer times for the fear of breaking my momentum which was just about setting in. So immediately after an exchange of pleasantries, dates and chikki the power boosters for anyone attempting a Brevet followed by gulps of Electral, I was back on the saddle.
Badchicholi is a place worth visiting for the banyan tree cluster which is worth a dekko and which is protected by the MP forest department for the huge area it covers. I regret not being able to enjoy this scenic location for fear of losing momentum. Maybe soon someday, a breakfast ride with the Thumping Tigers, is what I thought and moved on.
The next 35 odd kms I had Sachin Jain for company. It seemed he had good knowledge about farming practices and for about an hour or more farming and its varied local rituals and practices dominated our talks. About 7 kms from the 100 km reporting point we saw Mohit returning. He had finished his 100 km and was now on his return leg. And he was on fire, pedaling like a man possessed!! And as he waved, I saw no signs of fatigue on him.
At the 100 km checkpoint at Teegaon, we were “welcomed” by Prasad Sir, Raj Sir, Anuroop and Mohammed. While Sachin left immediately, Mohammed refueled my water while I tanked up on the energy front with bananas. Meanwhile as Sunil and Aniruddha streamed in I was back on my return leg. It was almost 9.45 am and the weather was still surprisingly pleasant. I was in no mood for a break!
A plate of poha at Badchicholi on the return and I was on the road again. However almost somewhere around the time that I touched Saoner, there was a sudden change in weather. The sun popped up and upped the temperature almost immediately. What was until now pleasant, soon started turning sweaty. Electral, water and about 2-3 “date-breaks” ensued. I had been alone this entire stretch and the inclines after Koradi now seemed demanding. No one to talk through as I did these inclines which on usual Saturday rides seem so easy!
I was now feeling sapped and hungry. However somehow the Zero Mile getting nearer helped me kill these bodily needs for the moment. Majority of the traffic signals turning green as soon as I reached them too were helpful and I managed to report at the end point at 14:23 hours where the last leg of volunteers, Dev and Yash were in their “respective saddles” (in Dev’s car). That I was happy could have best been an understatement. There can’t be anything sweeter than completing a Brevet and more so when it is in sub-10 hours. I had completed it in 9hr 53min.
However the toughest ride was to start now – the 10 km ride to my home from Zero Mile! This ride took me almost 45 minutes including a coconut water break. And when at home, nothing seemed softer than the welcoming cushions!
In the two Brevets that I did, I would just say that attempting one is not a test of your physical endurance. But rather it is a test of your mental strength. Agreed physical strength too does matter, but I would place mental strength to Physical strength at a ratio of 51:49.
God willing, maybe my next brevet would be a 300 km. But until then I would bask in the surge of happy hormones released in my blood stream post the Brevet. The Brevet high does last for a long time.