Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bangalore Hiriyur 300k Brevet - A report

One night to remember, One night to forget

Nights have an odd lure to us humans. The darkness creeps in a sense of fear, the lurking danger of unknowns, of delusions and hallucinations. But when you live the night through, when dawn breaks; you are awake to a little more of yourself, awake to a little more of your partner of the night. And by that I mean both - the nights you want to remember and the nights you want to forget!

Pre-read

Read about Brevets, Randonneuring, Paris-Brest-Paris and Bangalore Brevets.

The Start

Despite plenty of preparation for the Bangalore-Hiriyur-Bangalore 300k Master Brevet, I came up short at the start. Venkat & I are both growing old, evident from the fact that we troubleshot the headlight problem to the batteries, completely missing out the faulty LEDs.
End result: I don’t have a strong head light for a night nide!

With the Brevet starting at 11pm on 22nd Saturday night, I had to do with a weak commute headlight. No lights meant I had to quickly collaborate with fellow riders for the most needed commodity during a night ride – light! Arvind I had met on the CAM ride to Bekal fort. Yogesh was the other one with the brightest lights. And Arun, coming from Chennai had no idea what rolling hills meant, I had no lights. We were a team!

At finish, with Arun and Yogesh

Arun stuck around with me till we got out of the city on to Tumkur road. The roads were well lit till Nelamangala and I was making good progress. By now my head light was totally dead, and guess what, Mr. Genius did not even carry AA batteries!
With no light but only the Supermoon on the perigee cloudy night, I waited for Arvind and Yogesh to lead kindly light amidst encircling gloom. Luckily after about 12km or so, I was able to find a “fancy store” (yeah, in the middle of the night, making brisk business to truckers) and picked up batteries. Now, I was an equal partner in the crime of ‘drafting the winds’. The 3 of us got into some rhythm till we reached a Café Coffee Day just before Tumkur. We had done about 55k in 2.5hrs, time 1:30am. It was a longish break – coffee, cakes, chapattis were gorged down.
Arvind was sure he had seen a biker head in the opposite direction, we dismissed the only possibility of a 1000km Brevet rider returning. But if only we knew Karthikeyan had whizzed past, on target to finish 1000k in about 59hrs!

All about the Paceline

For the uninitiated, Paceline riding at a set pace in a straight line. The idea is to slice through the wind like a knife through butter. The rider in the lead, breaks the wind for the others to follow in his/her slip-steam. Effective when the gap between one riders back wheel is scarily close to the next riders front.

From 2am to about 3:45am, the 3 of us stuck to a paceline and covered quick ground. We hit Sira tollgate by 3:45am, with 106km done in about 4h:45m. Arun joined us here, having stopped earlier for refreshments.

Sometime between 4am till the break of dawn, somewhere on the highway some 100kms from the comfort of home, a single paceline of 4 riders, noiselessly knifed through the still night. The only sound was the hiss of the tires on tarmac. When the lead said “watch out”, it snapped me back to reality.
During my turn to be the lead rider, I would put my head down and try to keep a steady pace. I was constantly riding into my own shadow cast by either Arvind / Yogesh’s brighter lights. And then when the uphill was conquered, a fair distance done, I would signal to the next rider to take over and move over to the left, wait till all 3 had passed and join them at the back.

When the lead rider's turn at the front is over, he (or she) does a shoulder check for oncoming traffic, then peels off TO THE LEFT and begins to soft pedal in such a way that the rest of the line overtakes him on his RIGHT side. As the last rider in line passes by, the erstwhile leader accelerates enough to fall in behind, thereby becoming the caboose. Now that rider can recover, take a well-earned drink, scratch his nose and grope for a broken cookie in his jersey pocket. As other riders complete their turn at the front they will fall back to the end of the line in turn and our original 'leader' (now hopefully well recovered!) resumes his place at the front once again. In this fashion the entire line recirculates continually as it moves down the road somewhat like a bulldozer's caterpillar tread. Except lighter, quieter, faster, and more graceful.

I was actually using the caboose time to sit up and ride, drink off my camelback, sip from the electoral supply (scratch my nose?), etc. The Supermoon coming out of the shadows, it was an awesome night for riding – no winds, no rains.

At day break, 6:20am we were at the U-turn ATM (yes, a mini statement taken at the ATM from your debit card is time stamp in a brevet ride) at Hiriyur. 161k done in 7h:20m, well within the 10.5h cut off. At the only hotel open that morning, we had breakfast of chow-chow bath and coffee, spending 40mins.

The Return

The plan was to keep to a paceline, but with no winds on empty highways, there was little motivation. Arvind and Yogesh fell behind while Arun was getting stronger. Arun and I maintained a decent clip till the Sira toll gate. Having done 215km in about 10h:15m or so, we rested under a shamiyan, the only shade we could find.

Quiver full of chapattis - (the luggage I had carried)
10 chapatti rolls, 3 chocolate bars, 3 sachets of electoral, 2 ltr camelbak, 1 liter bottle in the bottle cage, 3 spare tubes, mini pump, puncture kit, Allen key set, 1 spare garmin, cue sheets, phone, wallet
My quiver was still churning out chapattis non-stop, Arun & I had one each.

Next stop was outside Tumkur, 250k in 12hours by then. Arun dozed off when we stopped for chai, sleep was catching up and we didn’t waste too much time. Ashwani, a 600k rider, zoomed past, while I had to take mini massage breaks to keep the cramps at bay.

Yogesh and Arvind. Photo courtesy -Yogesh


The Finish

It was awesome to see the Garmin show up 300k in 14h:14m, I was riding ahead on one of the flyovers on the toll road and bang on top of the flyover, I get that “here it goes” feeling. I had a flat. I urged Arun to go ahead and finish, but he wouldn’t have any of that. He happily power-napped on the flyover leaning against the parapet; while I set up my puncture shop. It took me 2 tries before I was able to fix it – 35mins gone!
The good thing the flat did – it took care of my cramps and Arun’s sleep & when we got off the flyover, Yogesh had caught up with us. He led us to the finish point, another ATM where we swiped our cards.

We then made our way to the Café Coffee day at Hesarghatta to hand over our brevet cards, ATM slips and have that well deserved Mango shake with double ice cream!

309km in 15h:30m

… and that, ladies and gents, is the story of the night I like to remember...

1 comment:

Arun said...

nice one Manoj! enjoyed readuing it.. and yeah now I know what rolling terrain is :)

Arun