BRM 400 Again- Kolhapur Curry
A long-distance endurance ride was not on my training radar. The SR would have to wait until later this year. The injury in September 2018 was still fresh in my mind and slightly reluctantly I signed up for the 400 BRM from Pune at the last moment (actually Mayur did the honors as I was busy and just could not find time to sign up). Mayur had decided to not attempt the 1000 and go in for the 400, and this single fact made the 400 interesting for me.
The sole objective of this ride was to come back without any injury. But as luck would have it, the BRM was made interesting with a lot of twists.. Read on about another masala filled BRM story.
Training for the BRM
I restarted my cycling training in November and was on a self-created structured training plan involving, Hill repeats, HIIT sessions and a lot of rest. I also started with small runs once a week. However December was marred with a bout of flu, then a week off for vacation and the ensuring work stress. Could hardly train in December, but the rest and break were helpful.
Had planned a 20% Everesting attempt on December 23rd and managed to do 15 repeats of Piranghut ghat section, a 2.25 km climb at 6% average grade.. The ride gave me loads of confidence. Followed this with another 80+ km hills day ride with Mayur on 25th.
Nutrition and Hydration Plan
As usual, the usual ORS packets with water were the top priority in the hydration plan. Thumbs up would feature as our energy drink with the shot of sugar it has. The only problem was that the temperatures had dropped and the cold did play some havoc.
For nutrition, I picked up my usual cheese cubes and sweet bun. Also packed some honey twigs, On the Run energy bars (liked these for taste and content). Mayur packed some paratha and white rice. The rest of the plan was to pick up things on the go.
Planning to Brace the Cold
I had zero experience of riding in the cold. But all my childhood was spent up in the Himalayas. I knew for sure that the early part of the day, until about 8:30 am would be cold and then with the sun, the day was expected to get hot. Post sunset we were going to experience the chill again. I decided to work with layers, got a Btwin cycling base layer and wore my jersey over it, Covered the face and ears with the neck warmer.
Brm 400- Kolhapur Curry 28 December 2018
Small Morning Drama
The BRM was paired with the 1000 BRM, which meant that the start point was Chandani chowk instead of Pune University. This meant I had to cycle an additional 7-8 kms and most of that ride is an incline. I set my alarm for 3:45 am, but as luck would have it, I woke up at 4:35 am, roughly 5 minutes after my scheduled time to leave from home.
I quickly managed to take a bath, skipped my black coffee and usual breakfast. Popped a Banana and an on the run Energy bar and left from home at around 5:30 am. Messaged Mayur that I would be late and he should leave with the BRM guys at flagoff.
Reached Chandani chowk at 6:10 am just as the flagoff for 400 was happening. Mayur decided to hang around and start with me. We quickly got the rider number zip tied, documentation done and started at 6:16 am from Chandani Chowk. The last set of riders to start.
Mayur Express and the biting cold
We had decided that we would target a sub 20 hours 400. Our last BRM 400 was a sub 20 and we did not intend to give up on that. As usual, Mayur took off at the word go, and the rolling nature of the highway meant that he was on express mode. My plan was to focus on the cadence and keep a check on my Heart Rate. I was going to finally get to test my new sensor acquisitions.
By the time I hit Katraj climb, I started seeing most of the BRM riders. I wished each rider as I crossed them. Met Neetesh who was attempting his maiden 1000. Crossed Dr. Harpale, our first BRM 400 partner and guru on the way up. I moved ahead after exchanging pleasantries. I knew Harpale sir would catch up soon.
The biggest challenge today was a runny nose because of the cold. I was constantly reaching out to my handkerchief to wipe my nose. Also, another issue was that I was not being able to feel my toes because they were frozen. We were all biding our time to see the sunrise and start warming the air.
Crossed Advait on the decline post the tunnel. Advait was attempting his 1000, and as I wished him pat came his reply “Mayur went ahead”. I was like yeah, he is on fire today.
Over the next few kms, I rode alone, crossed a few riders and was overtaken by a few others. Rode with Dr. Rakesh Jain for a few kms. He asked me about my plans and upon hearing my 20-hour plan, instantly wanted to stick around and make it back at the same time. He was definitely a faster rider and I had to do a bit of keeping up with him.
Dr. Harpale caught up soon and I decided to hang around with him.
First, break at Shirwal as usual
Around 8 am we hit Shiwal and I intended to stop at our usual joint and hoped to see Mayur around. Roughly at 52 km mark, today, Harpale sir and I took a break. Harpale sir decided that he wanted to have breakfast and we ordered some Poha, Upma with extra salt and some hot tea. My usual break of 6-8 minutes was converted to a break of 14 minutes. My target today was an average of 15-minute break per 50 km, which would mean a total of 2 hours of off saddle time.
Called up Mayur to figure out his location and realized that he was close to Kambhatki base and had skipped the break at Shirwal. After our discussion, he decided to take a Thumbs up break before Kambhatki and continue.
A very interesting thing to note today was that after almost 70 km of riding, my water bottles were still full. I was hardly drinking because of the cold. Made a mental note to start drinking to avoid dehydration later in the day.
Harpale sir and I were back on the road and rode together until Kambhatki base, where I lost sight of him. Climbed Kambhatki solo today with a special focus on cadence. Was being able to keep my cadence close to 65 for the most part of the climb, in fact, was able to see 80 + cadence in a patch. Met Dr. Jain again after Surur.
Cold Cold Cold and then hot
Close to 9:45 am while riding through Panchward, I was not able to feel my toes. In fact, at one point of time, I started feeling the wetness in my foot and had a sensation that there might be something in my shoes. I stopped, took off my shoes and gave them some time in the sun. Of course, there was nothing inside the shoes other than my extremely cold feet.
As I was waiting, Dr. Harpale, Dr. Adesh, and Dr. Dhanraj crossed me. I decided to quickly move in next to them and hang on to Dr. Harpale’s wheels.
Finally saw Mayur at Nagewadi as he had taken a snack break. I got a sight of him after close to 95 odd kms. The Satara flyovers meant that I gained a few extra minutes over the group again.
Over the last 15 odd kms, I had gone to feeling hot from feeling cold and felt the need to take off my base layer. Decided to halt at our regular place right after Satara and gobble down some paratha and a thumbs up.
Another long break
Mayur joined me in the next 2-3 minutes and I ran to the washroom to change. The restaurant guy decided to be extra slow and took 7 minutes to bring in the thumbs up. Mayur and I both were cross. I washed down two parathas that Mayur had got with some thumbs up, refilled my bottles and filled one with ORS and we started again.
The break clock read 13 minutes. A bad pit stop again, the second one in a row for today.
The next patch until Tasvade toll was fairly uneventful and Mayur and I kept each other in the visible range and rode on. I was checking my cadence now and then and sticking to the smaller chainring.
We took another thumbs up break and picked up a few packets of curd at Tasvade toll and refilled our bottles. The plan was not to take a long halt at Sai International, our u-turn point.
Even after the long breaks in the morning, the average was around 28.5 kmph and we had covered. 150 km in 5:45. We hit the road again after a short 9:30 minute break.
No injury dreams came crashing down
We quickly crossed Karad and were cruising down. The target was to take the next halt at Sai International by 1:45 pm. I lost sight of Mayur around Karad first flyover.
At around 172 km mark, I am not sure what really happened, but I remember losing balance and falling down. I remember two bike born kids yell that I was falling. I probably hit a rough surface or a small stone. Fell on the left side and thankfully was on the edge and the traffic was thin. I took a whole minute to realize what had happened as I lay sprawled on the road. Could hear people honking as they passed me, none stopped though. They were honking as if I was a drunkard lying on the road.
I picked myself up and checked if I had broken any bones. Thankfully other than a few deep bruises and cuts on the knee and elbow I seemed fine. Walked around a bit to check situation. Then I checked to see if my phone was ok, as it was in the left jersey pocket. Called up Mayur and asked him how far ahead he was. The question was both absurd and funny because he had no idea how far back I was. Upon hearing that I had a crashed, he turned back immediately. He caught hold of the two bike born guys and enquired about my situation. Mayur gave them an earful for not stopping to help me and started heading back.
Thank God, The Cycle Was Fine
I picked up my cycle and checked for damage. Other than the chain having slipped and a few scratches on the shifter, hood and a torn bar tape, the cycle looked fine. Thankfully I fell on the left and my body had taken the impact rather than the cycle.
Mayur came in soon and looked worried after seeing his blood and dust covered partner. He asked me if I could ride a bit to a nearby hotel. I was like let’s do it.
Mayur was worried if I would quit the ride and head back home, and the crazy me was calculating the lost time.
We cycled around a km to a small hotel and Mayur got some turmeric to apply on the wounds. I washed off the mud and applied the turmeric. If you have ever had a fall and had the amazing experience of turmeric on raw wound, you would understand what must have followed. The turmeric stung hard, and I guess was more painful than the crash itself. The turmeric sure reduced me to tears.
Mayur mentioned that team of Dr. Adesh and Dr. Dhanraj was behind us and we could get some painkillers from them. But as I looked up, I saw them quickly pass by.
Funny incidence. We met a few foreign tourists at this point and they got talking to us. While talking one of them asked at what time we had started from Pune and upon hearing that we had started at 6 mentioned: “well we too started at 6 am, so you guys are doing as good as us.”
We started rolling again and set our target to ride to Sai international, some 26 kms away. We had already lost some 20 minutes to this crash.
Mayur decided to hang behind me to keep an eye on my condition.
Sai International Cp 1
A few kilometers to Sai International, Dr Harpale waved to me from the other side of the road. He had definitely skipped the lunch break at the CP.
We made it to the CP at 2:12 pm, less than 8 hours 198.5 kms. Even with the crash and the longer breaks we were on target. We quickly got the cards stamped and I requested for some first aid help from our Pune Randonnuer volunteer Yogesh.
Yogesh and team very patiently cleaned off the wound with antiseptic, and it seems I was still bleeding after almost an hour. They then applied some ointment and I popped a painkiller. As they were cleaning the wound, I started feeling giddy. It got so bad that I had to sit down to avoid falling down. Yogesh and team then inspected me from head to toe for any other hidden injury. They knew better as to how situations can go from bad to worse. I was very thankful to them.
I got back to Mayur and we finished our curd rice and I washed it down with a cup of tea. The team had packed a few boiled eggs and an energy bar. We could not have that at the hotel as it was pure veg, so we picked that up and packed it in our bag.
Advait was also at the CP and caught hold of Mayur and asked him to keep a close watch on me and if he noticed that I was struggling, he was to stop me and parcel me on to a truck back to Pune. 40 minutes later at 2:50 pm we were ready to start our return journey.
The nonstop 51 km
While I was crossing the road, two teens on a bike came next to me and pointed to my wounds ( I was a mix of washed down turmeric, Savlon, blood, and ointment).
Me:“I fell down”.
Teens: “And still you will ride”
Me: “Yes I have to go back home, my wife is waiting for me”.
They gave me a look and moved on. I had called up my wife and informed her about the crash and she was worried.
While we started back from Sai, the memory of the last 400 came back. I had struggled with injuries the last time and was constantly behind Mayur and Dr. Harpale. This time around, I was injured again. I started back with a single aim, to keep moving because stopping would mean that the wounds would dry up and cause more pain. Moving my arm was a bit of trouble and even small rough surfaces would send down pain through my elbow.
I probably took off a minute earlier than Mayur from the CP as he was loading his bottles. I had guessed he would catch up, but today was my day. My guess was that the pain and the injury set my mind in a different zone. Rode alone for the next 51 odd kms till Tasvade toll naka, averaging close to 30 kmph. Kept the cadence high and shifted to the higher chainring to take advantage of decent on the rolling course.
This segment set the expectations high and my own confidence high enough that I could ride with the injury. A sub 18 hours finish looked very much possible.
I went into a small restaurant and ordered for a Thumbs up while I waited for Mayur. Mayur was not far behind and quickly joined within 4-5 minutes. We both finished one Honey twig, two boiled eggs, two sweet buns and the bottle of thumbs up. The break was longer than planned at close to 17 minutes.
Satara CP 2- Target to make it in daylight
As we had crossed the Khind climb after Satara in the morning, I had made a mental note to reach the climb in daylight. Which meant that we would need to be in Satara around 6-6:15pm. Once we left Tasvade, this small target started to seem like a possibility. Mayur and I charged at this section.
Mayur had forgotten his sipper bottle at Satara hotel in the morning and wanted to check if he could find it. We crossed the climb and spent 4-5 minutes while Mayur got his sipper bottle. While I was waiting I checked messages on the group and figured that Dr. Harpale had crossed the CP at 6:05 pm. We quickly went to the CP at Raj Lodge and just made it behind Dr Dhanraj and Dr. Adesh at 6:30 pm.
I quickly changed back to get my base layer and reflective jacket. Finished a cheese cube, one sweet bun and some thumbs up. Refilled bottles and ORS and restarted in 16 minutes. 110 kms to go.
Mayur and I both were not very hungry, definitely not dinner hungry as yet after having the eggs. So we decided to ride till we felt hungry and then take a dinner break.
As we were negating the slow gradual climb post Satara, Mayur floated the idea of skipping the dinner break altogether and ride without breaks. This way we could target to reach by 11-11:30 pm, a definite under 18. The idea enticed me and we both decided to attempt this.
Cold and Pain
Post Nagewadi, I almost lost sight of Mayur and had to do a bit of keeping up. Finally managed to see his tail light around a km ahead and decided to keep it that way. As we moved ahead, the weather got increasingly cooler. This section has always been a struggle for me. The 600 DNF attempt in September end had seen me crawling in this section before I had quit the ride altogether. Today was different and I was able to keep my head up and ride well.
We covered the 36 + kms well within 1:45. Decent pace for the rolling climbs. As we were approaching Surur I could see one more cycle light ahead of Mayur and guessed it to be Dr. Harpale. As we stopped at Surur, we saw them move ahead.
Stopped at Surur for another thumbs up and two energy bars.
By now I realized that I had pain in my hip too. Was slowly realizing all the aches and pain from the crash. Having cold Thumbs up in the cold also meant that Mayur and I both could feel chest congestion with a cough build up.
After about a 13 minute break we started again, with close to 70 km to go, we decided that we could do it without any breaks. Dr. Adesh and Dr. Dhanraj had crossed us while we were waiting.
The final Patch is the toughest
The rumblers post Kambhatki tunnel sent down massive pain through my elbow and hand and the chill on the other side was getting unbearable. As we crossed Shirwal I started counting down the kms. Post Shirwal to katraj tunnel is a gradual incline which does get difficult, and so it did today. Could not feel my toes again with them being numb with cold, the runny nose and the pain all set in together. No matter what gear I rode, I could not manage to cross 18-20 kmph. The only strength was to see Mayur also struggle next to me and go slow. It is quite funny that one can draw strength from another person suffering with them. I guess it meant that I was still not broken and the road was in fact difficult.
As we had left from Surur, I had made a small mistake, I had forgotten to refill water. This meant that we had to take another break. We were losing time quickly as we were going very slow but then I calculated that a 10-minute break would help us both break the slow momentum. Some warm tea would definitely help both of us.
So after riding 43 km in 1:45 from Surur we took a 10-minute chai break at Khed Shivapur toll. Filled up water bottles, drank some tea and had some potato chips.
BRM 400 in under 17 hours 20 minutes
With roughly 25 kms to go, we started from Khed Shivapur at 10:35 pm. We were confident that we would definitely make it back before 12 midnight. We quickly climbed to Katraj tunnel, navigating some thick traffic, diversions, and dust. I endured the pain through the uneven katraj tunnel and raced through the decline. I knew I had to keep moving. Mayur caught me after the bridge and moved ahead. We wanted to finish this together. As he crossed me, he mentioned: “Saath me complete karenge”. Mayur again had extended full support during the ride, right from the start to end.
Mayur managed to get stuck in traffic in a newly opened flyover section at Warje, while I decided to skip the flyover. After the tunnel, I had found my rhythm and was able to again manage speeds of 30 +. As I approached the final bit, I was thinking to walk up the Chandani chowk climb, my rhythm was broken by crossing traffic but once on the climb, I decided to take on it. Reached the top and waited for Mayur to join, who sure did. As I waited I checked the messages and saw that Neeraj was there at the finish point, which meant finally seeing an official at the end, and also the fact that no one had finished as yet.
As Mayur joined within the next 3-4 minutes, we moved into CCD together at 11:30 pm.
Mayur and I had done it again. Started late, and finished first. We took a cool 17 hours 15 minutes for the complete ride, a massive improvement of 2 and a half hours over our first attempt on the same route.
After our customary photo, I headed straight to order a chicken Sandwich and coffee while we waited for the team of doctors to join us. They reached within the next 15 minutes.
I headed back to home, 17 kms from Chandani chowk at around 12 midnight, and boy it was cold. Struggled to make it back home. Read the next day that it ended up being the coldest night in Pune at 5.x degrees. NO wonder we all struggled to ride in the night.
Hope to recover from the injuries and get back on the saddle soon.
Total Ride time: 17:17:06 h
On Saddle Ride Time: 14:47:49 h
Total Off Saddle Time: 2:29:17 h
Ride Average Speed: 26.68 Km/h
Total Ride Average Speed: 22.84 Km/h
The target was to limit the off saddle to 2 hours, but the crash ensured the extra 30 minutes.
Here is the Strava Link to the Activity https://www.strava.com/activities/2040635672