BRM 600- Anshu Finally Hua Super Randonnuer
My BRM story had come to an abrupt halt after the crazy BRM 400 and the crash in December 2018. The wounds took almost 4 weeks to heal. Work commitments then took over and I could not take part in any of the BRM’s in the following months. My BRM come back happened in mid-May with the first night BRM 300 from Pune Randonnuers (sorry nothing much to write hence no blog). The BRM 300 was quite uneventful other than the fact that Mayur and I really struggled in the humidity and took 16+ hours to complete the 300 with multiple rest stops.
The only thing separating me and the Super Randonnuer title again was a 600. Pune calendar provided the opportunity on 15th June. Read on to enjoy the struggle of two riders against some elements of mother nature.
Weather The biggest Challenger for the BRM 600
The Pune heat was going to be the biggest challenger. The delayed monsoons were adding to the heat wave. It did rain a bit, a week prior to the ride but the humidity was still at its peak. Cyclone Wayu didn’t bring rains but it caught hold of the monsoon winds. However, the two days on the road meant we were going to see all the seasons.
Part 1 : Rains
Mayur and I decided to chuck the backpack and ride comfortable. I was expecting some rains and hence switched to normal pedals instead of the clipless so that I could wear sports shoes. Carried sandals in the drop bag if the need to change wet shoes arose. Wet shoes did happen but I ended up riding with those.
Rain welcomed us at the start point. 6 am flag off from Pune University and we already were wet and had muck all around. Thanks to my new helmet with a visor from Aliexpress, I could ride with my specs and not be troubled by the rains.
It was an easy ride till Katraj tunnel base and then an easy effort on the climb. Mayur joined me soon after Khed Shivapur toll and we rolled to Shirwal as usual. Met a non-BRM rider on the way who got chatty.
Had our quick 10-minute break at Shirwal, some tea, cheese and Aloo paratha courtesy Mrs. Shanbhag. Noticed during the break that my tail light had some water that had seeped in and it refused to stop blinking. Was carrying extra batteries so that was not the worry.
Part 2: Losing my partner for a bit
By 8:20 am we were back on the road again, 60 kms behind us in the first session. Next stop was planned post Satara. Mayur fell slightly behind after we started and we continued in our usual riding style. I climbed Kambhatki with an easy effort. Just as I crossed Surur I started noticing that my chain was running dry and making noises. I was cursing myself for keeping the lube in the drop bag and not carrying it. I had applied wet lube the night before however had not cleaned off the dry lube prior to application and this was my downfall.
Just as I was entering Joshi Vihir I saw a rider emerge from a hotel. I was under the impression that Mayur and I were leading the pack as we didn’t see anyone cross us. Apparently, Shushant Bodas doing his 300 was way ahead of us. I stopped to ask him if he had some chain lube, which did obviously didn’t. We rode a bit together until we entered Satara. It was nice riding and talking with him. Great fun company to ride with.
We had started facing some bad crosswinds which almost threw me off balance a couple of times. As we entered Satara my hunt for oil started. I let Shushant go as I stopped at a small hotel to look for some coconut oil at least. To my great luck, he didn’t have coconut oil but he had thumbs up. I sat drinking 3 of them before Mayur joined me after almost 30 minutes. Mayur falling behind by 30 minutes on this section has never happened before, in fact, he is usually leading me by that kind of difference. The humidity and crosswinds had taken a bit of toll on him. We spent another 25 minutes here. A total drink break of around 60 minutes.
113 kms done under 5:15 hours with an average of 27.5 kmph.
Hunt for Chain Oil- Parachute to the Rescue
We went into Satara city avoiding the flyovers to look for some oil. Found many shops, garages but none had some lube oil. After struggling for 30 minutes and being sent inside by-lanes by locals for cycle shops which were shut I finally found a small tapri who had Parachute oil. I purchased 5 sachets, used two on the chain and we were ready to fly.
The wind was particularly bad in this stretch and coming down the Shendre climb was quite a struggle to just hold the bike in place. It was holding on to avoid a crash.
We were running behind our usual schedule and reached our first CP of 152 kms at 12:50 pm. Roughly 7 hours instead of our usual 6. Speed was good at 26.5 kmph. Mayur reached in 5 minutes and we quickly gobbled two bananas, had curd rice and refilled our bottles with Electoral and ready to move in 30 minutes.
While we were waiting we were joined at the CP by Dashrat Jadhav sir and the two doctors riding with him, Maj Ajit and then Rajesh.
Heat, winds and the Bechara Vastfire
The patch from Umbraj to Kolhapur was going to be the toughest. The rain had disappeared by now and had made way for the sun. The cross winds were howling and I realized that my front tire was getting worn out from one side trying to balance the cycle. Mayur and I proceeded with caution. We took a couple of Thumbs up breaks including a snack break where I wolfed down another cheese cube, egg, and some bread.
I had borrowed a headlight from Suraj just as a backup. The brand new light decided to break free from the bracket and fall somewhere near Peth Naka. Back to back BRM’s and back to back two similar lights damaged.
The first leg Done
I reached Jaihind deluxe hotel at 5:35 at 246 mark, followed by Mayur, Dasharat Jadhav sir, and his two teammates. Posted a photo on group and immediately got a call from Yogesh that he would be reaching the CP in 10 minutes. We decided to fill up on some egg bhurji and chai till the time Yogesh came in. Met Vijay Gadad who had driven to Kolhapur.
After a 40 minute break, Mayur and I started back. We still had about an hour of day light and wanted to cross the toll before Kolhapur.
The weather was slightly more pleasant and the winds seemed to have reduced a bit. Aided by a bit of decline we quickly covered around 30 kms in an hour and stopped right after the toll booth to switch on our lights. I was slready starting to feel sleepy. Probably the winds were taking its toll on me.
We took multiple small breaks. A thumbs up and water break around Peth Naka. Decided to reach Vitthal kamat Post karad before the toll for dinner. I probably miscalculated the location and around 10:05 just before the toll at Umbraj my head light battery died. As I stopped to replace the batteries, Mayur joined me. Mayur was looking drained and hungry and I guess I was hungry too. I was more sleepy than hungry but we needed a dinner break or we would not get dinner and we were low on supplies. We stopped at a hotel 100 meters ahead. I tried to get a power nap while our order for Dal khichadi was prepared.
Woke up in 5 minutes, had the food, some black coffee and we headed out after another longish break of close to 40 minutes.
Satara CP at 380 kms
We rode slowly post dinner as we both were tired, plus sitting on the saddle was now painful with a few saddle sores. I had asked Mayur to stick together through the night and we had been riding together since Kolhapur toll. Just as we crossed Umbraj we noticed a huge traffic jam. We got down and walked through the traffic to notice a two wheeler rider who had met with an accident. He was alive with a few injuries, Police and an Ambulance reached when we crossed.
The average dropped to 25.5 after being around 26 after 300 + kms. We reached Satara CP at Raj at 12:45 am.
The original plan was to ride ahead ride without a stop but the saddle pain and the dirty condition meant we needed a change of clothes.
We quickly got a room, lied down for 5 minutes, took a warm water bath, changed and had some snacks from my back pack.
We spent more than an hour and started back again at 2 am from Satara CP.
The change of clothes and the new shorts with some vaseline ensured some relief and we were both fresh.
Sleep and breaks
I could not get any sleep at Satara CP and within 5 minutes of leaving the CP I started feeling sleepy again. We reached Satara Toll and I decided to get a power nap. Found a big rock, sat on it and used the cycle saddle to rest my head. A quick 10 minute of uncomrtable power nap helped. And we managed to move ahead.
Mayur mentioned that we should carry on till Shirwal before another break. We had water in stock to last and moved slowly to Vele.
Somewhere before Vele I started to again feel sleepy and was cursing myself. Mentioned to mayur that we should stop after Khambhatki tunnel for a nap break. I was slightly drowsy and felt it best to sleep. It was around 3:55 am and we had done close to 412 kms. I rode very slowly and with caution down the slope and reached our usual hotel post Khambhatki. I quickly removed all the extras and put my head on the table and slept for 10 minutes. I generally have trouble sleeping even when super drowsy. Used a new method. After putting my head down I imagined that I was sprawled on my bed under the fan and could quickly sleep. This was the exact point where I had called it quits the last time but today I was going strong other than the sleep issues.
The sleep break helped. Woke up, had coffee, some eggs and then felt like going to the loo which was a waste of time. Came back to notice that Mayur is all groggy and sleepy and shivering with cold. We both put our head down and spent the next 20 minutes trying to sleep.
Started back for Pune at 5:10 am. 180 kms to go in roughly 17 hours.
Slow and Steady to CCD Chandani Chowk
We both realized that there was no escaping the heat on day 2 now and decided to take things easy. Anyways Shirwal to Pune was a slow climb. We took multiple small breaks and another Thumbs up break at Khed Shivapur at around 7:15 am. We reached CCD our CP at 8:20 am. By now the heat was getting nasty. We still had 120 kms to go.
We took a longish 40 minutes break at Chandani chowk to have some Poha, chai and cold drink. Filled up water and headed for the last patch. I was happy already that this was now my longest ride.
The most difficult 120 kms
The Pune Lonavala Pune patch is supposed to be one of the easiest. But not today, the cross winds hinting at being head winds were one of the worst I have experienced and add to that the heat and humidity. Even before we crossed Wakad I was drowsy again and the moment I mentioned this to Mayur, he found a small tapri for us to stop. I got a 10-minute nap on the table again and then some tea and we headed out.
We stopped at Talegaon for 3 glasses of Lemon juice and then again for some water and Thumbs up at a hotel in front of Wet n joy water park after Kamshet. The sight of the water park was drawing me to abandon the ride and just splash in the water. During this patch, the thought of just abandoning the ride and going back home and sleeping crossed my mind multiple times. Once I even thought of calling my wife and telling her to knock some sense into my head if I ever mentioned about a 600 again.
We made it to Lonavala by 12:45 and were welcomed with a huge traffic jam. Walked a bit to find an ATM to get a slip and started right back. Target now was to complete by 3 pm at least, 33 hours was not so bad.
As we approached wet and joy again, I stopped for water. Mayur joined soon and floated the idea to have some lunch. I could not protest and in we went for some very tasty curd rice with tadka. The hotel was slow and we spent an hour here doing nothing much.
My wheels started violently wobbling on a short decline before Kamshet. I somehow managed to control the bike. I thought that the hub had knocked off or the spokes were gone. Checked and found everything ok. Now that I look back, it seems my front wheel caught across wind and went into a tizzy and I just could not balance the bike. Decided to ride ahead slow.
Mayur took a Sugar cane juice break somewhere around Vadgaon while I was ahead of him. We discussed and decided that I would wait at Dehu road junction for him. The heat was now burning our exposed body parts. I reached a Nira shop and had 3 glasses of Nira and waited in the sun for Mayur who showed up after 25 minutes. While I was waiting a few guys started talking to me with the usual questions. Once Mayur reached I wanted to start immediately as I was getting burnt in the sun and this fellow tells us, “wait for 5-10 minutes and answer my questions”. I was like “Dude we haven’t slept for 2 days let us complete this”.We headed back for the last 23 kms now, the revised target of 35 hours.
We did not get to ride non stop, we took a break every 5 kms for water or coconut water or Nira. We were drained and were just crawling to a finish.
At 4:40 as we approached the final climb before Chandani chowk I got some fresh energy and decided to go an all out sprint. Waited for mayur to join before we entered CCD. This was finally our SR together. Second for him, a first for me.
Mayur was the happiest to see me complete the ride, the last DNF for me had scarred him.
Post Ride Report
The ride ended with being welcomed by a warm smile of Kirit. Post the nice photo session courtesy Kirit again I decided to treat myself. A devil’s own with extra cream and a chicken sandwich was ordered and I enjoyed it in the cold AC of CCD.
The weather had cooled down slightly and I don’t know what made me change my mind from going back home in a rick to riding back home. Cycled 19 kms home from Chandani chowk post a 600 BRM.
Came back home, took a bath and got treated to some mutton biryani and a beer. Hit bed by 7:30 pm and woke up the next day at 6 am.
As I am finishing writing the blog on 19th, even after 3 days of no cycling but little rest, the body has recovered but mentally I am still dazed and recovering.
Total Distance: 602 kms
Saddle Time: 25:35
Total Time: 34:45
Average Speed: 23.6 kmph
Route: Pune-Kagal (Kolhapur)-Pune-Lonavala-Pune
Route Name: Deccan Nadkhulla BRM 600