Friday, January 31, 2014

200km Kem Cho Brevet - Baroda - Kosamba - Baroda

The last long distance I biked was Baroda - Pavagadh - Baroda a distance of about 96kms in Sep '13. That was without much practice and took me about 4 hours and 5 minutes to complete the distance and got me this.

Since then have been off on a few 50-odd km bike but didn't get myself on to longer rides. Timing, work, priorities, no enthu or general lack of fitness. Whatever, be the alibis, just did not get on the bike to go long distance. Earlier last week I ran out of alibis and decided to go ahead with the 200km Baroda - Kosamba - Baroda brevet. Good weather, more or less a flat surface, decent roads on NH-8 and close to two months of regular work outs at the gym. I felt up to it.

A pre-brevet meeting was planned by Jhala at Rushabh's office the day before the ride. That's the 24th evening. But on the 23rd, I developed some cold feet. That's when I picked up the phone and spoke to Jhala. How much water, how much ORS, chikki. Jhala's informative planning answers regarding puncture patches, things to take etc helped, and the nonchalance of it being a short 200k ride bucked me back up. Zi's feedback on the 24th morning - "keep drinking, it will prevent cramping" and I was almost set for the pre-brevet meeting. I now understand that water is what he meant (sic!).

Spent the better part of an hour at Rushabh's office on the 24th. Met the other participants on the ride. Each friendlier than the other. Such positive energy! Was almost ready to get off home and set the bike up. Tied up the brevet number cards, ensured tyre pressure (forgot checking an important part the chain - more about this later) and while I wanted to hit the sack by 9.30, was past 10pm before I ensured all batteries in place etc and calmed down for the snooze.

25-Jan: 4.45am was up (including coming back home once - forgotten bike keys) and out of the house at 5.40am to reach start at Malhar Point. Jersey pockets so overful that I misplaced my debit card. Found somewhere fallen by Ravi Kashyap (or Ravi's sleight of hand, I wonder!). :-). After a few photographs, and at a few minutes past 6 we were all off.

6.40am, were out of Baroda on NH-8 and riding together with Sanjay Pater and slightly later with Deep Udeshi, rode on till a few km short of Bharuch. Where I stopped for a short break. Around 8.30am, was a Bharuch fly-over with about 30-odd km left for TP at Burger Hut. I had this feeling that would be at the TP by about 10am latest, will take an hour's break and then leave back for Baroda to complete that about 5 hours. Had added an hour due to the strong head-winds expected.

Approx 8.45am, there was a spanner in the works. A flat! Lucky me! Just off the Sardar Bridge and I have a flat. Well, ok, let's start off remove the wheel, start removing the tube, all ok. Suddenly fatigue catches on. And it's more than 45 minutes, that I just about am managing to get the tyre back on when Jhala with Jitendre Sharma come along. They move on and about 10-odd minutes laters, around 9.45 am back on the bike headed for Kosamba again.

A few kms I find a massive accident with about half a km of traffic piled up; and here's where the bike helped. I could just manoeuvre between all the vehicles. Crossed Ankleshwar GIDC and kept cycling on to find Jitendre stopped at 108km (3 km short of Burger Hut) searching for the TP. We guessed a few km ahead and rode on to finally reach the TP around 11.20am. An hour tweny behind schedule.

Well, that's when I had one of my best morning snooze's this winter. On the lawns of Burger Hut, with direct sunlight into eyes being protected by a plastic chair.

About 12.20pm, and after a quick bite of a chicken wrap, I leave back on the much-dreaded-headwind blasting-return-leg. Man, every 10km is an effort. First break at GIDC Ankleshwar. Second break, just a few km before Sardar Bridge. By this time the GPS battery had given up, had no idea of the time, distance covered or pace. All, I was capturing was km left to Bharuch and the Kosamba. By the time I crossed Sardar Bridge, a thought ran through my head zombie on the bike. So, humming Zombie by the Cranberries, I biked on a few km to Hotel Atithi. Stretched my legs, a few more half-liters of water (was probably 4 liters water down already).

Somewhere roughly between 2.45-3.15pm, is when I saw Mayur, Sanjay (Sporty), Nikhil, Hrudik bike past the hotel. Well, I carried on snoozing and left a few minutes later heading towards Baroda. Barren stretch of road, next target was Palej. Where's Philips Carbon Black ki chimney. About 20km further on, I crossed Palej. That's when I was getting thoughts of giving up and called up Pooja to talk me through this. Here's what she said, "Don't feel dizzy!", and while hanging up, "you can do what you put your mind to!". I remembered that I hadn't eaten much, so reached out and had half-an-energy bar. Decided that I'll ride on to the Cafe Coffee Day at Kosamba, have a big cold coffee with black-forest cake shake and then decide. They didn't have that, so opted for a simple cold-coffee with ice-cream instead.

Approx. 5.15pm, met Mayur, Sanjay, Nikhil and Hrudik while leaving CCD and we all rode on together. Setting milestones, Por - Varnama - Baroda entry. Taking short 2-3 minute breaks every 5-7 km. Just a few km more, narrow-bridge and we enter Baroda. Crossed Jitendre on the way - puncture on the home stretch! Bummer!

Possibly, 6.15-6.30pm, when we entered Baroda, and I stopped for a quick breather. Hrudik saw Sanjay Sporty and said, "bye! I am going to finish first". :-). Then the traffic hours in the city and finally reached Malhar Point for the swipe at 7.12pm.

Here's what my thoughts through the ride were:
  • Tail-wind feels good! Wheee!!!!
  • Truckers are the best and most disciplined drivers, followed by ST buses. The small cars and private buses - be wary of them. I mean, on the highway - truckers were patient, maybe short horns, just to indicate they are coming. On Sardar Bridge while returning, patient to follow me than honk me out of the way!
  • You don't just have cold coffee with ice-cream, you earn it! That's an instant energy drink!
  • Remain hydrated while biking. Listen to your body. Stop when you feel like. You are not competing, not even with yourself. You are doing it because, you feel like doing it.
  • Be disciplined on the highway. As Jitendre put it "you don't need to improve everyone in the world!".
  • Resolve is what matters. Kudos Hrudik - my 13 year old riding partner, Yogeshbhai, though DNF, first ride after ages, Jitendre, finishing a minute over-time, after a home stretch puncture. Finishing has it's own fun!
Ciao now, till the next ride.

Here's the ride map:


Samish Makhija said...

When I learnt of your grit in completing this long a stretch, I was reminded of a karate competition you had entered at the age of 12-13 years. It was at GIDC (VCCI hall) and you, a yellow-belt then, were pitted against a much taller boy 2-levels higher (green-belt?). By the 3rd round it was clear to all that you stood no chance. Seeing the thrashing you were getting, I was about to blurt out that it was too much of a one-sided contest when the match-referee asked if you would like to quit. Totally shaken and with face bleeding, you declined and lasted through all the rounds (7?.. 9?).

I also remember the times when I would ask the 6-8 years old you to run n-number of rounds around the house, or the ground in front of our house (3-4 times larger than what it is today) and you would ALWAYS complete the run irrespective of how fagged out you were!

Proud of your determination.

Ujwal said...

Gee! Thanks, Dad!