14 March 2011

Bangalore Brevets - 400k by Sreepathi Pai

Sometime in November 2010, the cyclists of Bangalore got together and formed a radonneuring club. They organise a set of timed endurance rides called the Bangalore Brevets. The most recent one was on Saturday, the 12th of March 2011. The following is a ride report by Sreepathi, a friend and fellow cyclist...

*EDIT: The rides in 2010 were all organised by the club "Bangalore Brevets". In 2011 a randonneuring club was formed in IISc as well - called the "IISc Randonneurs"

Brevet (BRM) 400K Ride Report (warning: LONG!)

We (Poovaiah, Prakash, Gokul and me) rode the BRM400K this weekend.
Nirmal has been caught up in his PhD stuff, so he had to drop out, but
he did show up at the venue to see us off. Both Poovaiah and Prakash
were doing a BRM for the first time, and are on the bike after
relatively long times, so I was glad to see them finish, and finish
well. I'll leave it to them to write their ride reports.

This was the first time I had a good night's sleep before a long ride,
so you can say the start was good. Although I had bought bananas, I
decided not to carry them. The only food I was carrying was 4 Snickers
to be used at night. After an extra large bowl of oatmeal + bananas, I
was out.

We reached the start point at around 5.15AM. After paying up the
registration fee, and getting the bike checked, we started out at
5.30. Actually we started out later than that, in part because we were
looking for Gokul. Eventually we started without him, and our start
group consisted of Shree Kumar, Poovaiah, Prakash and me. Shree Kumar
and Poovaiah rapidly out-distanced me, and the next time I would see
them would be at the 180km mark. Prakash was riding with me, but
eventually I went ahead, and found myself mostly riding alone till
Electronics City.

For a while, I was joined by an endurance racer who had no idea of
what the route was, and I led him out until he found a faster person
to tail behind :) Around that time I caught up with Sandeep and Anita,
with the latter doing the BRM for the first time and the former riding
in his wool jersey. I continued ahead for I had this crazy idea of
mostly riding alone during the day.

Since Gokul and I had already done the route to the A2B point the
Saturday before the event, there were no surprises, and thanks to all
the downhills, I was able to reach the first time station at 67km by
8.17AM (closes at 9.58AM). I got my receipt as a record of my timings
-- all time stations in this BRM were unmanned, and we had to get
receipts with the time. By this time, Sandeep and Anita had also
reached, so I had a nice breakfast with them for company. Of Gokul
there was no sign, until I learnt he was riding with the "BABIMs",
i.e. Boys at the Back in [sic] MTBs -- R Venkatachalam's group of MTB
riders who were riding at the very end. They also arrived shortly.

For the next leg of the ride, from 67K to 140K, I rode with Sandeep
and Anita. The next time station would close at 1450, and we planned
to reach it by 1230. We kept up a good pace to Krishnagiri, thanks to
the superb downhills, but after turning onto NH-46, the terrain became
more rolling. While this is in general good, it turns out I tend to
prefer monotony to build up a rhythm. The sun had also come out and
was in our faces, and while there was a slight cooling breeze, the sun
was beginning to affect our speed.

We only managed to reach Mufasa's Diner at 1250, a little behind
schedule. After a satisfactory lunch, we collected our time receipts
and left the TS at 1345. The next time station was the midway point,
at Poigai near Vellore. This 60km-or-so section would turn out to be
the hardest of the ride.

Not only was it getting flatter, it was getting hotter, and the cool
breeze had turned into a strong crosswind/headwind. We'd ride the ups,
and pedal down whatever downhills were there, with the wind
constraining us to speeds of 16/17kmph sometimes. Although shade is
non-existent on NH-7 and NH-46 (the trees are only just beginning to
grow), I eventually found a spot under some coconut palms to rest. It
was 1500, and despite some coconut and sapota I had on the way, I was
feeling worn down by the heat and winds. At this point we saw Samim
and Shobhit already on their way back to Bangalore!

In the next hour or so, Gokul and Prakash also joined the group, but
Prakash continued on ahead in his top-gear style. We tried pacelining
to beat the wind, but it continued to wear us down regardless. After
some time, I got frustrated enough to just simply gun it. The next
20/30 minutes I fought the wind and rode at 23/25kmph alone. It wasn't
a gamechanging ride or anything, but it did make me feel better. As I
saw the Poigai signboard, two strong riders (who had taken the time to
go shopping for leather articles!) came up and egged me on to the next
TS. I had reached TS4, the midpoint, at 1730. The TS would close at
1858, so I had some time for rest and some snacks. The rest of the
gang showed up in 10/15 minutes, and we left Poigai at around 1815. As
we left, I was surprised to Prakash heading for TS4. It turns out he
had taken a nap on the way. We had taken around 5 hours to cover these

It was getting dark now, and we had to make for the next TS at 311km
by 0250. At 100km, this was the longest gap between the time stations.
We also needed dinner! So we setup a plan to reach Mufasa's as quickly
as possible. We were a loose group by now, and I was paced initially
by Gokul, and then by Prakash till Mufasa's. Riding in the night was
beginning to feel very nice!

Did I mention I love my IQ Fly? It functioned brilliantly (literally
and figuratively) during the whole night!

With a tailwind to assist us, we rode back to Mufasa's in about 3
hours. At 10PM, we had a quick dinner and decided to plan our strategy
for the 140km. At this point, I was in unknown territory -- my
previous longest ride had been 230km.

On the face of it, a BRM only calls for you to ride at 15kmph.
However, as you stop and take breaks for lunch/dinner, etc., this
begins to increase. If you do not ride in a disciplined manner, you
will miss a time station, and it will all have been in vain. I learnt
this the hard way during the Launch ride when I missed TS2 by 40

Anyways, at Mufasa's (260km) we had to meet the next TS (the IOC pump)
at 311km by 1AM. Although this closed only at 0215 hours, we had to
consider that the time station after that -- the McD/CCD at Shoolagiri
(350km) -- was after some serious climbs. If we could not make the IOC
pump by 1AM, we would be in trouble on the climbs and could miss the
McD TS! Indeed, if we reached the McD TS at 0450 (when it would
close), then we would have to ride harder to reach Bangalore by 0830.
Not a nice prospect given that it was all uphill!

As we rode into the night, I soon realized I had another problem to
worry about -- I was nodding off! It was becoming harder and harder to
stay awake in the saddle. Although I was riding with Prakash, he soon
outpaced me, and I was riding alone. I was riding in the shoulder, and
ever so often I would jerk myself awake to find that I was drifting
into the lane of vehicles or into the rough road at the side! It was
very unsettling, and I soon began to try to keep myself awake by
splashing water on my face, riding faster and for atleast a km,
singing nursery rhymes out aloud :) I regretted not having coffee at

When finally I saw the IoC petrol pump, I was relieved! As I collected
the receipt, I also grabbed two cups of coffee. It was 0115, and we
were behind our planned schedule. When we finally left at 0130, we
knew the next 40km had to be ridden fast. At this point I was riding
with Sandeep, Anita and Prakash (who had waited for me for 20mins!),
and as we turned off into NH-7 again, I found myself nodding off
again! We split again, with me behind everybody, and soon alone.

The next 35km or so were the lowest point of the ride emotionally. I
did not want to ride half-asleep -- that would be foolish and
dangerous. I stopped and tried to get some rest, and racked my brains
trying to come up with a way to keep myself awake. Sleeping, I
decided, was out of the question. Dropping out was briefly considered.
The only other thing I could think of was eating :) I ate the Snickers
bars, and since you generally wake up when you're eating, I felt
refreshed. The cold wind was also making me sleepy, so I fashioned a
face mask out of a kerchief and continued to climb. These tactics
worked! As I climbed up to Shoolagiri, I stopped a few times to rest,
eat another snickers and continue. I had no episodes of nodding off
after that.

The hardest climb was one that was carved between two hills, the rest
did not register at all -- that's the great part of riding at night,
not to mention the tons of stars! I think I even saw a shooting star
(no prizes for guessing what I wished for)! I had planned to reach
McD's at 4AM, and when I finally saw the big yellow M I was relieved
that I had made it -- it was exactly 4AM!

Poovaiah, Shree Kumar, Sandeep and Anita were still there, while
Prakash had already left with a goal of completing by 530. They all
left while I drank a hot cup of capuccino. I also rested quite a bit,
since from this point I was in familiar territory, thanks to the
recce, and sort of knew that I could make it to Electronics City
within 3 hours. I finally setoff at 0445 for the last TS. I stopped to
nod off quite a number of times, but atleast it was within my control.
The daylight soon cleared away all sleep.

As it turned out, I reached E-City in two and a half hours, and
trooped into the final TS at 0750AM. There were no unfortunate
incidents (like punctures!) and I managed to complete the 400K BRM in
a  slightly better fashion as compared to the 200K. I'm still not
riding very relaxedly, given my scramble between the time stations,
but hopefully that will happen over time.

16 hours of sleep later (2x8), my quads are completely shot, but the
rest of me is feeling quite fine.

Ride stats: 402km, about 19.15 of riding time, 26.20 total time,
riding avg: 21, avg: slightly above 15kmph

1 comment:

manoj said...

Nice report there! I was looking for motivation for the upcoming Brevet and this post is right there! Thanks!