My first 200 kms ride on the cycle. First Night BRM 200 Krishna Confluence
I started cycling for commutes in Dec 2017. Primarily focused on weight loss and saving some money in commutes. I was doing 20 kms a day and cycle being my first love, the cycling bug quickly caught up. I borrowed my friends 6 speed BSA Marc and used it for a month, however the brakes and wheels did not give me a lot of confidence and in last week of February I got myself a Kross Bolt. A 18 kg Steel frame 21 gear hybrid cycle. One month down the line I managed my first century solo ride to Lonavala and back. 128 kms.
During this time I started meeting serious cyclists of Pune and got to hear about Audax club and their BRM rides. Saw one happening on 12th May to Satara and back. A night BRM 200 kms.
I had just done one century ride and a couple of 50’s. Something told me that I can attempt a 200km ride. The challenge however was that little climb of Kambhatki ghat. I had done small climbs, but was not so sure of how I would perform.
So the week before my BRM, I started analyzing the route and broke it down into smaller targets.
Planned another century ride on April 28th to Lonavala. Unfortunately my luck ran out quickly and my cycle had a puncture with a blade in the rear tyre at 15 kms from the start. With no kit and no help at 6: 15 am, I was forced to walk back 5 kms. A stranger and an angel named Anil Agarwal saw my plight and offered to help. Being an avid cyclist himself he had all the kit, he even offered me a spare tube. I managed to cycle back home. So much so for a century ride. I managed 25 kms in 4 hours.
The same day I paid a visit to Decathlon, and got myself a puncture repair kit, a hand pump and extra tubes. Learnt how to fix the tube. However the Kross Bolt being a very entry level cycle it had no quick release. So I also got myself a pair of Spanners over the next few days. Lesson learnt and this incident helped me in being more prepared for the unfortunate situations.
Climbing Experience Part 1
I took to Singhagad fort for a solo climb to the top on May 1st. The 8 km climb with an elevation gain of 622 meters with an average incline of 6.5% grade and topping at a 18.4% grade was a more treacherous climb than Kambhatki. I managed to not only complete the climb, but managed in a good time. All thanks to my core strength training, weight loss and my general strength training. I managed the climb with 2 pit stops. As I had a slightly late start, I saw many cyclists coming down. Most of them cheered me to push to the top. The cycling brotherhood around Pune is great.
Climbing Experience Part 2
I then planned a ride to Temghar Dam on 5th May. Three ghats. This ended up being a century ride. However the heat and the climbs gave me dehydration again. I was hydrating myself, but Pune heat can be quite killing at 10 am. This was a self supported group ride with a few riders from COB (Cycle on Buddies). I am generally not a group ride guy but being with a group helped me understand my strengths. I also happened to meet Suraj, who later became my BRM partner.
One rider at the start of the ride looked at my bike and mentioned “Anshuman are you planning to attempt the BRM on this bike?”. I answered very confidently in affirmative. But deep down I had a few questions myself. 200 kms on a heavy steel frame bike in the night. How tiring would that be? Well the end of the ride put these questions to rest. While going to Temghar, I had an 20 minutes advantage. I managed to ride up to the Temghar dam and be back at the base by the time the rest of the gang reached the base.
The Night Ride Experience
So I was done with the climbs. Confident on self. However a major missing part was the night ride part and I had absolutely no night ride experience and not even a good headlight option. I ordered something basic at 400 INR from Amazon, but the visibility was very bad. Another angel, Kalyani Tokekar from COB group offered me her headlight for the BRM. She also gave me a lot of great advice, some nutrition help too.
On 8th May, I planned a night ride to new Katraj tunnel. Amit Lele and Sandip Jadhav joined me. I got to test the lights and also the Night BRM route partially. At 70 kms it turned out to be a decent training.
Oh the lovely cheap lights I had purchased from Amazon fell off the bike and broke within 5 kms from the start. Thankfully I had the additional lights from Kalyani which helped me in the ride.
So I was mentally and physically prepared for the ride.
Last ride was an evening ride for dinner on 10th May around 38 kms. Kept 11th may as rest day.
I had been on a low carb diet since the last 4-5 months. Though there was a slight slack with a vacation in between. I knew I had to change this before the ride. So two days before the ride, I started increasing my carbohydrates. Primarily rice intake. Also started having one ORS with a bottle of water. I usually drink 7-8 litres of water. I stuck to that.
I had a meal of rice and chicken by 4 pm on 12th, this was post my usual breakfast and a lunch earlier.
Ensured that I get 1 hour of sleep in the afternoon.
Packed my bag with some energy bars, chikki, extra batteries for the light as I knew it would not last for more than 4 hours. I had got Duracell. My usual kit and extra bottle of water.
Left home at 6:30 pm and was at the start point at Pune University by 7 pm. Did a high cadence, slow ride to preserve all the energy. After reaching I had an electrolyte drink I had purchased from Decathlon and an energy bar.
The ride- Night BRM 200 Krishna Confluence
Being a self-supported night ride, I had decided to pair up with Suraj from COB. We had ridden to Temghar together. We flagged off from Volkswagen Showroom Pashan at 8 pm after the registration and bike check formalities, 49 of us. The ride started with an immediate climb to Pashan and then Chandani chowk. Climbs are my strong point and Suraj was slightly behind. I took a small water break and waited after the Chandani chowk climb for Suraj. We hit the highway quickly and then it was the climb to the Katraj new tunnel. Once again I was alone with the lead pack having disappeared into the dark and Suraj slightly behind. This time we had decided that we would take the next break at Shirwal toll.
I stopped at the toll, ordered some tea. Met Shankar Gadhave who did not participate in the BRM but decided to motivate his few friends and was riding along with them. I finished my tea and no signs of Suraj. Suraj probably reached 12-15 minutes late. We had another cup of tea together. Refilled our water bottles and hit the road again.
Next quick break was somewhere around Shirwal for water. Because of the rolling terrain, Suraj was much quicker on the flats with his 29 inch wheels. We mostly rode together until the base of Kambhatki. We stopped for 10 minutes. I munched on some chikki and had of the pack of Nestle cold coffee. Really needed the energy bump for the climb. Asked Suraj to have something and he refused saying he had a heavy dinner before starting.
The first attempt at Kambhatki and that too in the dark. Was definitely intimidating. Me on my 18 + kgs steel bike. I attacked the ghat, managed to cover the 6 km climb with 4.3% grade in roughly 33 minutes with no breaks. I must have overtaken 5 guys on road bikes and eventually got overtaken by another very strong rider. Kambhatki was the boost that I needed. I felt this was the only challenge for the ride. Mentally this was a big victory.
Reached the other side, stopped at a stall and ordered black coffee without sugar to keep me awake. So Kambhatki was done before midnight and the biggest challenge was done, or so I guessed. Waited for Suraj who had developed cramps on the climb and was already struggling.
Some 30 minutes break and we started rolling again. Suraj was slow with his cramps and it was getting difficult for me to maintain low speeds. It was then a pretty solo ride in the dark. I hit the U turn point by 12:45 am. Well within 5hours. I had a quick snack of Samosas, and a banana. Picked up a water bottle. Suraj reached soon. But his cramps were bad. We decided to hit the road again by 1:45 am.
100 Done 100 More to Go
We started off and I saw Suraj playing around with his lights. His battery was out of charge and he had his power bank in the backpack and was trying to clip the lamp to the bag handle. We figured out that we could tie the battery pack to the frame with zip ties. This magic that we worked out in the dark ensured that we started at 2:15 am.
I tried to ride slow so that Suraj would be with me, but with multiple small climbs on flyovers, I missed Suraj somewhere. By now I was myself getting tired. With no clue what gear I was riding, the light also would go off during bumps (something was loose). I would drop down gears on climbs and not get to a higher gear. I had not changed the batteries and Duracell had lasted well but was now giving up. The road got lonely and I did not see a car or a truck for about 3 kms. Did feel slightly spooky riding all alone. Was looking over my shoulder to see if Suraj was catching up.
First Pit Stop on The Ride Back
Reached Kambhatki tunnel base and took my first break. Realized nothing was open on this side of the road. Did not want to cross the highway. There was another rider stretching. I pulled out another energy bar. Suraj reached some 15 minutes later. We extended our break and started rolling again. Post the tunnel, Suraj was with me until Shirwal. We even stopped for a cup of tea.
Was really riding slow that Suraj is next to me. We even had a pack of dogs charge down at us. However I knew how to handle them. All safe.
Post Shirwal bridge I overtook a rider on a Giant bike and I thought Suraj did too. So I was constantly looking behind and saw a headlight behind me. Though I thought that the light looked more brighter than Suraj but I did not pay much attention. Felt someone over taking after 10 kms and was going to speak to him when I realised it was the other rider. Looked behind and Suraj was nowhere. I had a wave of disappointment run down that I had missed Suraj again. I continued the ride.
The day light popped up. But the road did not seem to end. Mentally I was getting exhausted. Stopped post the toll at Shirwal at around 6:15 am. I still was in good time. My water was over so I had to stop. I realized it was a bad decision to stop because the moment I got down from the bike, I felt dizzy and giddy. The sleep was kicking in, the adrenaline from the ride was what was keeping me going. Post Shirwal it is a steady climb and was draining. I got myself water and tea. I had packed some dry fruits in a small box. Munched on them. After my 15 minutes break, I received a call from Suraj. He made there in the next 5 minutes. He then had his tea.
The Final Push in Daylight
We started rolling again, with around 20-25 more kilometer to go. Climb to the tunnel and I slowly saw Suraj drop again. I decided to hit the last patch alone. The fast exist of 6 kms downhill post the tunnel and then the climbs again. The sun was out and draining. Managed to somehow climb the chandani chowk steep climb and reached CCD. My timing stood at 11:43 minutes, with a ride time of 9:08 minutes, 200 kms at an average of 21.xx kmph.
The joy of completing the first 200 km ride. But was waiting for my partner Suraj. Got a call from him and he was searching for the CCD. He apparently had climbed to Chandani chowk and gone down to Kothrud side CCD. It took us 2-3 minutes to figure out where he was. He had to do the climb again. Suraj finished his ride at 12:00.
Night BRM 200 Completed in First Attempt
We were not the fastest, but not the slowest either. The fastest time was 6:48. We were close to double that. However, being the first 200 attempt and that too a BRM, my target was to just complete it. A timing of under 10 hours would have been great, but hey, it was not a race, it was an endurance ride. Considering I had just done a couple of 50’s and just 3 hundreds or was it two before the 200 attempt, I felt content. It turned out to be more of a mental battle than the physical battle.
The after Party
Being at CCD I ordered a sandwich and a black coffee to get some energy for the 20 kms ride back home. And yes some rest. Left at 9:15 from CCD and reached home by 10. Took a bath and crashed into bed. 3 hours later I was ready to take on another day.