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Pune- Bhighwan 200 kms Battling Headwinds and Punctures

by Anshuman Sen
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Pune Bhigwan

The Second 200. Pune- Bhighwan-Pune. Headwinds and Puncture Practice

I am an ametuer cyclist. Picked up cycling as a mode of commute to lose weight. Quickly got bitten by the cycling bug and have started long distance endurance rides. Around less than a month after my first BRM 200 success, I planned another 200 km ride. Well I planned and cancelled it many a times because of the small tendon injury I picked up after the BRM.

Read about my first 200 km Night BRM here.

The Pandharpur Wari Practice Ride

After my first 200 experience I signed up for a Pandharpur Cycle wari ride organized by ICC Pune. A 230 + 230 km ride to Pandharpur and back to Pune on back to back days. Hence I decided to check the route and also check my current fitness levels. After multiple cancellations, I decided to go solo. Still did put up a post in multiple whatsapp groups about my plans and surprisingly a lot of people showed interest in the ride. However people were ready to join for some part of the distance and not the complete ride. Being a primarily solo rider, I did not have qualms about me attempting a self supported solo ride.

Ride to Bhighwan

June 9, 2018 was the date set for my second date with a double century. This time I did not have the butterflies like the BRM. I was much more confident. However it started pouring on 8th night and we were all doubtful. I was clear that I cannot ride in the dark and rain with my glasses. So I informed the group that if it is still raining in the morning then I would start at 6 am (daylight) or 4:30 am in case of no rains.

Thankfully the rains stopped by morning however the roads were wet. Because I did not have mud guards, my cycling shorts were wet before I reached the meeting point at Hadapsar. At Hadapsar meetup point I realized that no one was planning to ride upto Bhighwan. So I was going to have some company for a part of the distance and then go solo. I was committed to this double century and decided to not cut short the ride and go ahead.

Dr. Sameer Phanse, Vijay, me and a few riders started riding together. We stopped at Chaufula for some great vada pav at Shree Gurudatta Vadapav. Dr. Phanse and Vijay decided to head back from Patas. Roughly 70 kms from home. I still had 35 kms to reach Bhigwan.

The Solo Journey to Bhigwan

Pune Bhigwan

I started hitting good speeds post Patas as I was riding alone. Post Kurkumbh the roads are downhill and I was cruising at top gear. At 85 kms mark, 20 kms from Bhigwan I noticed that my front wheel was running slightly low on air. I took out my hand pump and pumped in a bit. And was back on the saddle. Hit Bhigwan at 9:40 am, around 5 hours from home at a saddle time of less that 3:45 hours and average of 28 kmph. Bhigwan presented a mesmerizing view. Just beyond Bhigvan I could see rains, wet roads however it was bone dry from where I was standing.

Pune Bhigwan

The story of Punctured Determination

Checked my wheel again and felt the pressure was less. With no  gauge I could not check the pressure. It seems I was running lower pressure all day and had ended up with a hole. Remembered that I had seen a cycle shop in Bighwan and decided to head back to them to get the wheel fixed. Reached the shop and the owner informed me that the mechanic was not in as yet. I decided to fix the puncture myself, I had the kit and I knew how to fix. But the issue was that I was sweating a lot because of the humidity and my specs were getting wet constantly impairing my vision.

While I took out the wheel and inner tube the shop owner got interested in my ride and decided to help me. With the access to water to check, we figured out the hole quickly, one single tiny one. However this gentleman had never seen such a thin tube (28 mm). He helped with the patch, we checked and realized that the hole was still leaking. He had missed the point because of the size. I decided to not waste time and replace the tube. However the challenge was that replacement tube was a Presta valve instead of Schrader on the original. The gentlemen checked my wheel for any injuries (Big mistake, I should have checked myself). We put the new Btwin tube, however because of the valve I had to pump myself. It took me 5 minutes and a youtube video to understand how a Presta works. Pumping that tube with a hand pump was a task and  I had a terrible pain in my left arm post the pump.

The shop owner was kind and did not accept any money from me. I thanked him and went to a nearby restaurant and loaded up on Puri Bhaji and tea. Figured I would need the energy for the return ride and should eat.

Puncture Part II and the Headwinds

Started back from Bhigwan at 11 am and was confident that I should be back home by 3 pm. Would ride non stop for the 105 kms with short water breaks. Heaven had different plans. Within 5 minutes I felt my front wheel was low on air pressure, by the time I stopped the wheel was almost flat. I had a sinking feeling. I was under the sun, no trees or hotels. Pulled out the wheel and the tube. Realized that it is difficult to figure out the hole sans water. Did not have another spare tube. Had to use my hearing ability and spit to figure the spot. Realized there were 3. Used two patches to fix them. Checked the wheel and realized that we had not identified and pulled out a small wire, 5 mm from the wheel the first time.

Started again and was hit by the heavy headwinds and the constant inclines. I was finishing my stock of water and energy bars at an alarming rate. I was starting to get thirsty. There was no sun but it was very humid. 20 kms down the road I decided to stop at a small road side eatery for some cold drinks and water.

The last thing I needed…A busted Valve

I stopped, grabbed a small thumbs up. Needed the sugar. Looked at the wheel and knew it was running low. Decided to pump, with that pain in my left hand. While I was taking out the pump, I heard a loud noise. I looked closely and realized that the pump had broken and pulled out the valve and it was nowhere to be seen. Remembered Murphy’s law, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Some people around were fascinated with the pump and me being able to yank the wheel with the quick release. One of them helped me pull the tube out. I pulled out the earlier tube (which the cycle shop guy was not able to fix). Figured the hole and fixed it in the first go. Phew. Put the wheel, pumped again and I was exhausted with the pain. Ordered one more cold drink. Guess my diet plans allowed this today.

Headwinds Continued..

Started again and the headwinds were killer, I was dropping speeds. My riding skills were tested or my lack of riding skills. I did not know that headwinds could get this bad. All I could hear was the wind making scary noises around my ear. Wind howling and growling, asking me to Quit. While coming down from the small Kurkumbh ghat I stopped pushing the pedal expecting to roll down, however the cycle stopped moving because of the headwinds. I realized how strong the headwinds were. Was given constant company by teens on two wheelers, some enticing for a race (as it made any sense) or some just inquiring about the fact if I get leg pain after such rides.

Pune Bhigwan

Felt some small respite from the headwinds around Patas toll and increased my speed a bit. But the joy was short lived and lasted just 5 minutes.

Drained I decided to take a lunch break at around 3 pm just before Kedagaon. I must have just covered less than 43 kms in the last 4 hours with the two puncture incidences. I stopped at Madhuban Pure Veg hotel to grab a bite. Ordered two lemon soda and a curd rice. Refilled my water bottle and hit road again in 30 minutes.

60 kms to home and I almost gave up

Continued on the suffering battling some heavy headwinds and the afternoon heat. Hoped that I would get some respite once I hit Urli Kanchan. Unfortunately that was not the case. Started riding on the shoulder marking to make my life easier. I also knew that I was running on lower than recommended air pressure because it was impossible to pump 80 psi with my hand pump. I later realized that I was running 40 on both wheels instead of the minimum of 80 psi.

Just after Kunjirwadi I realized that my rear wheel was leaking air. I was getting a strong temptation to call someone from my friend list and request them to pick me up. I was done. For the first time in my life I was ready to give up on a ride, heck first time I was ready to give up on anything.

In such situations I generally start setting smaller targets, like reaching that corner or milestone in xyz minutes or I start a mental race with a slow moving vehicle. Those small victories kept me moving.

The Final Punchure. This Time The Rear Wheel

Decided to cycle a bit and noticed a small cycle shop. Took it to the shop. The guy put the cycle down and figured the hole. We also fished another small wire like the first one. The cycle mechanic started pulling out an old tube and cutting it to fix. I asked him if he did not have a patch, to which he replied in the negative. I asked him to hold on as the tube patch would not hold 80 psi. I gave him a patch from my kit and realized this fellow has never seen a patch. I took the tube and fixed it myself. He started pumping and nothing. Apparently his pump had failed. I had to pump the tube with my hand pump again and that was the last straw.

As I was thinking what to do, I received a message from Amit Lele “ Last stretch now for you. Don’t get demotivated now.” This is the motivation I needed. I told myself, you have given up till date. Performed on stage after tearing the ACL on stage. This is just a small thing.

Paid the guy 20 bucks for doing nothing and decided to ride.

 

The Home Stretch – Never Give Up

Just before the toll at Loni I started feeling super hungry. Stopped at a dingy looking eatery. Had no energy left and had to stop. Loaded on some misal pav, cold drink and chikki and started back. The traffic was thick being a Saturday evening. I pushed through and reached home at Vishranthwadi at 6:45 pm. More than 14 hours instead of the planned 10 hours. Average speed had dropped down to 23 kmph. Which meant that I had managed around 18-19 kmph on the ride back. Broken and battered. But content that I was able to hit my second century.

Aftermath

Once I reached home, I was dusty and muddy. Looked at myself and I thought I was dark because of the dust. Took a bath and realized I was extremely sun-burnt. The sun from behind the clouds had done major damage.

Pune Bhigwan

But this ride had taught me a lot and I was confident of doing the Pandharpur wari ride.

Riding in Headwinds check

Puncture fixing Check

Eating solid food during a long ride check

Not getting Dehydrated Check

NOT GIVING UP {TRIPLE CHECK}

Check out the stats on Strava 

Pune Bhighwan Pune Ride

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2 comments

Vishal July 17, 2018 - 3:56 pm

Superb Anshuman.. Highly motivating stuff.

Reply
Anshuman Sen July 18, 2018 - 6:51 am

Glad that you liked it Vishal.

Reply

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