Sunday, November 18, 2012

The brevet ride report - 200 km on 20 inches

Gokul shares his experience of the 200km brevet ride that he rode last week.

I have never been a fan of riding in night even from my motorcycling days. Added to the fact that the longer brevet rides included riding in the night with little or no sleep didn’t make me too excited about Brevets longer than 200 Km. The Hyderabad Brevet started last November and I was out of town for the 200Km weekend and missed it. I was quite excited about the it this time. While we were in the process of evaluating the Dahon folding bikes, it just stuck me that it would be quite nice to try it on a Dahon. Krish was very excited and we immediately decided to convert one of our shining new DahonVitesse D7 bikes to a rental.

Truth be told I was a little sceptical as I had not ridden folding bikes too often. I had commuted for a week or so on the Btwin Hoptown folding bike, but that was two years back. Raman was very confident that I should be able to do it pointing me to Dr.Ramana who had done many long rides on his Dahon. Raman & Krish however suggested that I swap the saddle as that might be a pain point. I had planned to do a 40km ride to iron out any adjustments, but was too tired the day before the brevet and skipped the ride. But I did get to commute (a 5km ride to the shop). Nothing much to give you any confidence really. But I just decided to go ahead with the plan anyways. One disadvantage with riding the Vitesse was that there were no quick releases to easily remove the wheel. Well I prayed to the puncture Gods to spare me for my first brevet.

Registration process at TBA

It was convenient that the brevet started from The BikeAffair and the route was a fairly regular route for us. However when I arrived at the shop was quite surprised to see the buzz and realized that we had very few volunteers to take care of the 30 odd riders. It wasn't much of a surprise that we got to push off 10-15 mins after the scheduled start.

Get Set ... Goooo

The ride strategy was quite simple, that I would stop much less (hopefully only twice) and ride at a consistent pace. Chitti Babu and Faiyaaz planned to ride with me. At the start point I could sense the excitement as all the riders really zipped off and were not wasting any time. We settled into a nice rhythm and got on to the ORR service road. Soon Ajendra joined us and our group size increased to 4. The ORR service road is a well paved road, but has many of these unending series of Lilliputian speed breakers. They rank right up there among the most irritating things on a road.

Ajendra, Faiyaaz, Gokul (left to right)
The ride was reasonably event less but for a dog incident. I am scared of dogs and when we found one in the middle of the road I shouted out to the others. Ajendra took this as a cue to go close to the dog and scare the hell out of it. It promptly sprinted across the road and given my phobia I watched the dog rather than a way around it and lo and behold I hit it and fell down. Thankfully nothing much happened. Since I hit the dog, the front wheel was slightly out of true – a two minute job for Chitti who was smart enough to get a spoke wrench.

Soon after we reached the Bangalore highway Ajendra broke away and the rest of us rode together. We took a breakfast break at Jadcherla which was about 90km from start. We were joined by the ever energetic Rajasekar who ended up covering the entire distance on his car with his camera covering the ride. I tried to keep the break as short as possible, but our choice of place wasn’t great and we ended up spending about 40 mins there. We were still on target and weren’t too concerned. Just when we were about to start I saw Gopi Krishna (mechanic) taking on a bus driver for rash driving like only he can. Before we could go upto them the dispute got resolved and the ride continued. The rest of the ride upto the turnaround point was very fast, I was attributing it to the breakfast and break. Logic should have pointed me that a simple dosa and salty sambar is no EPO.

Raj catches myself in his rear view camera
It was nice to know that we had moved from dead last at the beginning of the ride to around the middle of the pack. I ensured that we didn’t get too carried away and pushed off from the turnaround point without much ado. Chitti was really controlling himself and told me that he will push off at the turnaround point and I was quite relieved to allow him to ride freely.

At the turn around point (100 km mark)

So it would be myself and Faiyaaz riding till the end. Faiyaaz is a really nice guy and a very charming company to ride with. The plan was to stop for lunch around Shaadnagar which was about 50km before the end point. The first 15 kms or so after the turnaround point made us realize that it was not the breakfast but the downhill and tailwinds which had helped us breeze to the turnaround point.

The road was easier after the first 15kms and we rode consistently upto lunch @ Shaadnagar. By this time I had got completely used to my Dahon and realized that it was quite a nice bike to ride. Leaving out the fact that the top gear was not big enough and the posture was not aerodynamic it was an excellent ride. I would actually rate it faster than a MTB and probably very close to a hybrid for long distances. Infact if there were more climbs the folder would be a better bet than a hybrid.

We met Zihan, Ramana, Satish at lunch stop and Ramakrishna joined us a little later. I was focussed at having a quick stop and wasn’t too successful as I had a great chat with Fiayaaz over lunch and we had to literally pull ourselves and get onto the saddle.

By this time we started setting small goals and the sight of ORR was the next target. Just before we got onto the service road we caught up with Ramana and Satish. After we got on to the service road I needed a 5 min break and we lost Ramana and Satish. We saw Zihaan and his friend struggling with a rear flat and Ramana was helping him. We stopped by and ensured that they were good to be back on the road. After that we started upping our pace and Zihaan, myself and Faiyaaz rode together to the end.

Myself and Faiyaaz

I couldn’t thank Faiyaaz enough as he was great company through out. Even though I started off very strongly, there was not much of a difference between our speeds on the return and we complemented each other very well till the end.

Well it takes just one ride to realize that on such endurance rides it is the company which is the most important aspect. And I was quite fortunate to have great company in Faiyaaz, Chitti, Ajendra and Rajasekar. Thank you guys.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

HCC 2012/11 - A Race Report

Gokul shares his experience of the HCC 2012/11 75km Road Race here - 

The  November  race in medchal road was the longest, farthest and probably one of the best organized races of HCC. The start point was moved beyond the toll booth to avoid any race pile ups. Along with the crisp morning air we were greeted by a huge number of volunteers in two booths with all the registration paraphernalia and the podium goodies.

Registration desk  and refreshment counter

Goodies if you can get on to the podium.
Having got very little sleep the night before I was thankful to Mackinlay Baretto for the ride. We picked up Ram Swaroop and Jeeta Ram on the way at Dhola Ri Dhani. While I was semi-awake in the car we noticed Richard McDowell drafting a truck in the dark.

On reaching the venue, we went on a nice warm up ride with my teammate Chitti Babu. I knew that the first 10-15 kms was downhill and the start would be fast. While all the registration and other details were handled well and done in time we were one driver short for Raj who was the designated photographer and had to wait for 10 mins for the last volunteer to come in.

As soon as the race kicked off there seemed to be a moment of hesitation from everyone in the typical “pehle aap” mode. But suddenly Jeeta Ram upped the tempo and a pace line formed with Jeeta Ram, Raman, Richard and myself. 

A few seconds after the start

Was a tad disappointed that Chitti did not manage to join the pace line. I knew that I was not strong enough to do any work and was happy to suck a few wheels. After about a km or so Ramswaroop just powered his way to join us.

I just managed to suck a few wheels for around 6 km

The group kept going at a high speed for some time and then slowed down for a breather. It almost felt like a interval training session. I was somehow able to stick on for about 6 kms after which the speed was too high for me to hold onto the pack and got dropped off.

But the pace was too high, and I got dropped
But was quite happy to note that I couldn’t really see anyone behind me and reckoned that I had gained a few mins on the guys behind me.Km 20 to the turnaround point had more climbs of the rolling terrain and I was not really sure how much to push as I had no rider in sight to understand how others were doing. A few kms before the turnaround point I saw Jeeta Ram and Ram Swaroop powering there way down together.

Jetharam and Ramswaroop

I saw Richard a few minutes later alone and Raman had pulled up to the side of the road. The turnaround point helped me get a better understanding of my relative position and the gaps of the guys ahead and behind me. Chitti was about a minute behind me and Ramakrishna was about 2 mins behind me. I would have loved to slow down and have my teammate Chitti join me, but Ramakrishna was too close and we risked falling behind, so just continued on my way. Also I realized that since Raman had dropped off I was 4th at that stage and kept pushing myself as I could get into the podium if one of the guys ahead had any mechanical problems.

The first 15 kms after the turnaround had more downhill sections and speeds were higher. I felt an odd tingle in my right calf, tried a couple of stretches while riding but couldn’t do much in a race. I didn’t realize I wasn’t drinking enough water or gatorade. I saw Mahesh and Suma at the feeding station, but had enough food and water on me already, so just kept chugging along. I did munch on my energy bar and realized that I had done a good thing in opening it before I started the race as it made it much easier to eat it.

I spent the rest of the race alone just looking at my cyclo comp and trying to get my average speed up. The right calf tinge started to happen a little more often, but I ignored it. Finally I was glad to see the finish line and heard the volunteers shout out to me to finish in a hurry. I stood up and was about to sprint when my right calf cramped badly, I just had a couple of 100ms to go and had a cramped right calf. I couldn’t even cleat on the right leg and had a sharp pain. Some volunteers suggested that I walk the rest, but I waited as I drifted on the existing momentum. Even at that moment of anguish something sparked in me and I started pedalling with my left leg while my right leg was dangling harmlessly away from the pedals.
Dragging myself to the finish line
As soon as I stopped the Doctor came rushing in and helped me stretch to control the cramps. Overall I was happy with my standing and glad that I cramped up at the finish line and not earlier. A big thank you to all the volunteers . Would also like to thank Sphere Fitness and Sports( distributor for Sigma lights and computers, Vredestein tires and tubes, Forza bike components), Ozone Ventures( distributor for Bergamont bikes, Schwalbe tires and tubes,Vincita pannier and saddle bags and Bion Computers), Akslen  and Zixtro for all the free goodies. We really appreciate the support.

Race Results

Winners - Jetharam(centre), Raswaroop(left), Richard McDowell(Right)
Race Results

Contributed by Gokul Krishna