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.

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