Questions by Pradeep Menon of Cochin Bikers Club.

Hi Divya,

We have some concerns which we would like to raise. Grateful if you could help to address the same.

Also it woudl be grateful if you could help to create a google doc excel to submit /raise concerns question as the tracking of concerns ,resolution would be beneficial for randonneuring in India.

1. On the software development side, many of the clubs has volunteers who would be able to help with the knowledge. We could also look at reusing the software assets created by clubs by transferring ownership to AIR. Any outside vendor(company) will cost huge amount of money for building a reliable software system. We also need to see a scalable system which can scale upto size.

2. Tool -IF ACP has already developed a tool, can we use the same tool.That would save a huge cost and synchronisations. Also it would be in direct format of Audax Club files.We could even ask for a dedicated login with an approver probably a monthly approval from AIR. This will also avoid duplication of task and future cost to stay in sync with ACP systems. Since ACP collects the fee for homologation ,we could use their system for better efficiency.

3. Fee Part.- We would like to have some clarity. Because clubs cannot raise any funds for brevet on account of support. For events approval from Government authorities we do have to engage staff.sometimes we get support from passionate officials.In Kerala every brevet ,we need to get approvals from Police(Rural SP of Police, City commissioners) , District Authorities applicable based on the geographic jurisdiction of the ride.

We take the personal money for route recce and all other admin activities.The brevet fee collect for event most of the time at the most falls deficit to cover the cost of staging the event.

4. For the Insurance part, we would like to have more clarity on how this benefit is going to be extended. This is vital as any ambiguity on this area will deprive the riders of insurance benefits.

We would like to know the coverage benefits, coverage costs, terms and conditions applicable for the insurance and exclusions if any.

Also we have a suggestion to have the same on an online platform in order to leverage the cost benefit to riders.

5. Annual Rider Membership Fee , Temporary Rider Fee

The regional clubs already allocate permanent rider numbers at zero cost. So the amount of 5-600 in addition to the brevet fee. Also a one off rider fee of 150-200.
Also there will be a cap on brevet fees.In short a club has a cost to AIR of about 300 INR solely for event for riders. And in practise most of the time there will be a considerable number of new riders.
In short riders will face additional burden of 700 rupees and any other cost the local club adds.
We have the feedbacks from the riders participated in brevets in Kochi. Fort the registration fee of 400-500 itself we do have critical complaints of expensive fees,inspite of all the benefits extended t the riders.
In Kerala, its difficult or impossible to run event based on the facebook club address.Hence we do have additional costs to cover the annual registrar charges, Auditor charges and other legal levies.

6. What would be the benefit for the rider for paying the AIR annual member ship fees. Already AIR is charging BRM fees from local clubs. Also local clubs incur cost for mentoring new riders and events.

7. We registered the club primarily for smooth conducting of events and has no other revenue streams. Brevet is conducted with the support of volunteers

Also in south india, a recent incident in forest has prompted authorities to give permissions only for registered entities.
The new regulations would create a considerable amount of monetary burden on clubs,especially those associated with brms only.

8. We would suggest revisiting the policy of mandatory AIR membership /temporary rider fee for participating in brevet. We suggest this call to be taken only after a response from riders. This will also impact the growth of randonneuring. Since the economics of amount varies based on the rider profile, geographies.

9. There are states in India without emergency ambulance services. In such states, the organizers do extend on humanitarian grounds medical,ambulance facility to reach nearest hospital incase of emergency. All these are additional costs which needs to be funded by clubs.

10. Please advise how the clubs will generate the revenue to pay to AIR since there is a cap on brm fee, AIR annual levies,no support, no branding. This would be crucial for clubs conducting only BRMs. The local organisers do spend their time,money and effort to make each brm successfull. Practically there are limitations on conducting another set of events to raise funds for covering the AIR fees for local clubs. Any sponsorship for the club by any organizaiton will be primarily given on the basis of branding on events like a supporter, preferred partner etc.

11. We would like to mention the inconsistency on the support policy. Clubs are not supposed to raise any funds, but run event on non-profit basis. At the same time there are annual financial commitments to AIR for the club and additionally for the riders who participate in brm.

Clubs are non-revenue earning entities and created by association of enthusiastic cyclists.
If clubs raise any kind of funds, the contributor do expect a visibility in the events, as for them it’s a money outgo which need to be accounted and justified. There are ground level issues, constraints in conducting events primarily for visibility.

12. Also we would like to know how the local clubs connects with the rights of AIR. Considering the local clubs as registered entity, the annual fee to AIR need to be accounted under the business relationship. Since AIR is going to be a non-profit company, there will be additional liabilities arise from that and eventually clubs has to contribute for that.

13. Whether the affiliating clubs financial contribution (money collected as fees, establishment cost) would make them as shareholders, with or without voting rights.



Bliss in the hills — details

Caveat : This is a fairly challenging route, featuring some *serious* rolling terrain. You need to complete 1200km within 90 hours across challenging terrain, lonely roads, forest stretches, manage your sleep cycles and still manage to ride. Please please don’t register if you have not trained well. Our recommendation is that you should have completed a 600km brevet ride from Bangalore Brevets to attempt to do this ride!


The road for the 1200 in October will be going through three states. The route has enough for everyone, climbs, downhills , flats, highway stretches, quiet rural stretches, noisy town/city stretches, manned controls, unmanned controls, selfie controls, and of course , places where you’ll find it difficult to control yourself.

Ooty is the highpoint of the ride, and the ride has been appropriately named. Having said that though there is more to the ride than Ooty. You start with the capital city of Karnataka, go towards Nelamangala, and make your way on the fairly empty highway to Hassan. Once you take off from the highway towards Hassan, you head towards quieter rural stretches to the town of Chikmagalur. From Chikmagalur, you head towards the climb of Mulayangiri. You take a u-turn from a point 2 kms from the top (beyond which the road is a really bad). This would be the first control where you’ll take a selfie against the background of the km mark. You now go back downhill towards the town of Belur (which you crossed enroute to Chikmagalur) and head towards Madikeri via Somwarpet.

From this point onwards you’ll be hitting extremely quiet sections with very little traffic. you’ll need to use the cue sheet carefully because there will be few towns and few humans to ask for directions should you take a wrong turn.

You’ll hit the Hassan – sakleshpur road, take a left and then take a right at Balupet. (This is the time you’ll see some traffic). From here it is fairly rolling terrain till what will feel like forever. Enjoy the sounds and sights of the plantations and the forests that you’ll be passing through. (You’ve already had a healthy appetizer till this point, but here on it will be an endless buffet) And yes, please watch out for the elephants and the Gaurs (Indian Bisons). They have a right of way, please don’t try challenging that.

The stretch from Somwarpet to Madikeri is known for elephant crossings. Please make sure that you follow local directions if there are elephant movements. And phone in to let know the organizers. We can’t predict animal movements.

From Madikeri you go to Virajpet and from there go to Kerala to Iritty. You enter a reserved forest which will keep you company on a winding downhill for about 15 hours. Please be advised that most of the plantation and forest stretches are lonely , and you should be riding in groups at night. The Virajpet – Iritty section is full of traffic, being the only road passing through the forest region that connects non-coastal Karnataka and Kerala that is open at night.

Here is the preliminary route. (The section from Iritty to Thalassery has to be added, and the route might have minor changes, based on feedback/recce)
Map and profile of the route

Right now the registration says 5:00 pm but that might change based on what we work out an optimum time to start. But it is likely to be in the afternoon to evening on the 8th, and end on the 12th morning.

Here is a link to the registration. Please be advised that the price of the registration will be available only till Aug 10th. We’re doing this mostly to get a feel of the numbers and to encourage early registrations.
Register for the Ooty ride

Here are the photos taken on the recce

recce photos

A draft cue sheet will sneak in here in a couple of days. This post will be updated in the Bangalore brevets site (which seems to be down now)

Minimalist shoes/barefoot run comparison

I ran from Koramangala St Johns Ground towards EGL Domlur on Wednesday. Towards the end of my run, I found it difficult. Even though the foot landing felt okay, I felt that my forefeet/paws were badly constrained by the shoes and felt a bit of a pain both on my fore feet and my calves. So I stopped, took the shoes off and ran (carrying the shoes in my hand) just for a short while. I immediately felt much more comfortable.
Link to my workout, with shoes
Link to my workout, sans shoes
The second run was far too short, but keep in mind was that the only break i took was to simply take off my shoes, and for both runs I was trying to maintain an easy comfortable pace.
An speed of 5:23 min/km as opposed to around 6:02 min/km to me at least suggests that my speed barefoot is much better than with the shoe I wore.
The oxylane shoes I wore

The Saalumarada brevet

A quick short writeup about the upcoming 200km ride. The title Salumarada should be a dead giveaway to the folks that know its meaning, and even better, its significance. The word means ‘A row of trees’, and not just any row of trees. The route passes through a stretch of 4km Banyan tree s a little off the Nelamangala Hassan highway. What is significant is that this entire stretch has been made possible due to the efforts of one person. You can read about that person here.

Saalumarada Thimmakka
or here
A childless couple transform a highway

You get to see the significance of the stretch when you pass the town of Hulikal. Suddenly the sun shines down on you ;( Allow me a moments pause as I salute the spirit of a lady who has shown what an Aam aadmi can do — before the term became embedded in the public subconscious.

The route starts from BTM layout , goes towards Ramnagara, where you take a detour towards Magadi. At this point you start forgetting the hustle bustle and pollution of Bangalore, and start soaking in the greenery and the scenery. Continue to Magadi past the monolith of Savanadurga and continue from Magadi towards Kunigal. You take a deviation from the Magadi-Kunigal route towards Kudur which is on the other side of the Nelamangala Hassan highway. Soon after you cross the highway you reach the town of Kudur , after the Kudur bypass begins the row of trees. the stretch ends at the house of Thimmakka-Ajji (as she is called lcoally)in Hulikal. You continue on to the town of Tumkur and return via NH4, ending the ride in the IISc canteen gate

Highlights of the ride
1) I’ve highlighted a 4km stretch in the middle of the ride. But there is lot of greenery throughout.
2) Starts and ends on highway sections. Lots of greenery in between.
3) Passes through the town of tumkur. Lunch options
4) final stretch is the scenic highway of NH4 , the same stretch as the master brevets.
5) No killer climbs here.(Subjective)

Turn right at Ramnagara, towards Magadi

Turn right at Ramnagara, towards Magadi

Ramnagara - Magadi stretch  -- Start drooling

Ramnagara – Magadi stretch — Start drooling

Ramnagara - Magadi stretch  -- Its real

Ramnagara – Magadi stretch — Its real

Crossing the Nelamangala - Hassan highway

Crossing the Nelamangala – Hassan highway

More within the Banyan stretch

The Banyan stretch

More within the Banyan stretch

The Banyan stretch

More within the Banyan stretch

The Banyan stretch

Thimmakka-Ajji's residence , after the Banyan stretch

Thimmakka-Ajji’s residence , after the Banyan stretch

Beautiful late , after Hulikal

Beautiful late , after Hulikal

Control -- Tumkur Town

Control — Tumkur Town

Bangalore-Ranebennur-Bangalore 600k ride

Prologue :
After having botched up two 600’s (The 1st one before I really got a hang of brevets, the sleeplessness ,etc) (The 2nd one due to mechanical failure ), I decided to go ahead with the Ranebennur 600. Of course I wanted to do the 400 and the 200 as well but could not find the time. As luck would have it, I still managed to goof up. I tried to fix the broken derailleur hanger for my Btwin Sport 1. as luck would have it, the part is not easily available.So I had to choose between two options, ride my MTB or borrow/rent a road bike. Nalla had agreed to loan his BTwin and Rafi had agreed to give me his lights. Again, circumstances contrived to create a situation where i could not get these well in time, so I would have had to make a trip to WhiteField and Malleswaram the day before the ride. Pradeep Naidu graciously offered to loan me his Bianchi for the ride, God bless him! Of course, there was drama here as well. I don’t use cleats, and we could not change pedals easily, so off I went to BOTS , and Rohan helped me change the pedals, and adjusted the seat to my liking (Of course he was more than a little surprised by how I ride , my seat position — the way I ride is not what you hear typically from the pros. I tilt my seat a little forward and never really fully rest on my seat — This means more pressure on my shoulders but less on my perineum and buttocks — not the officially recommended way of riding, but the way I ride). So fixing the height ,seat etc meant I reached home at around 10:30 pm. I had to spend the next two hours getting my bicycle for the early morning ride. The whole idea of riding a road bike was to chop off a few hours , and finish early, something as I would discover doesn’t work if you don’t get enough sleep.

Start of the ride/sleepathon
I rode at 2:15am  with Parag to the starting point, the old Citibank building where all our master brevet rides have begun. We started at around 3:15 am. Sandeep mentioned that Saturday would be cloudy with chances of rain on Sunday, and to be prepared for headwinds on the return. Me and Parag rode at a steady pace and reached 50km in about two hours. Somewhere after that I went ahead of Parag, don’t remember why, i possibly had started dosing off and was too focused on not falling asleep that I did not realize i was not riding with him. Luckily i found a kamat on the road along the road.The Kamat was closed but an adjoining CCD (Cafe Coffee day) was open 24 hours. Ther were three people sitting on the porch outside having their pre-breakfast meal and Coffee. i went inside , had a quick crash, drank a coffee to refresh myself. I had parked my cycle outside leaning against the wall. After having used the restroom I came out , stretched and noticed that a bunch of monkeys were eating the leftovers of the group that was eating outside. the CCD manager assured me that the monkeys were not aggressive. I happenned to discuss with another patron about the monkeys at Nandi, who tend to be very aggressive. However, when I went out I would discover that 5 satchets of Gatorade were missing, ripped off by the monkeys. The bike was still well balanced. Nimble thieves!

The monkeys that love sports drinks

The monkeys high on Caffeine and sports drinks

I proceeded ahead , and was riding alone till some point where I saw one rider waving at me from a shop. A little ahead I caught up with Parag , Sylvester who had just waved to me caught up. We took a break before Hiriyur to down some bananas, and I grabbed a few chewing gums to stop from drooping off to sleep. I had a constant niggle on my left hamstring that increased in intensity from km80 till I reached Hiriyur (km 175). Parag and Sylvester went ahead at some point. We reached Hiriyur after 11, After getting ATM slips (where i caught up with Parag and Sandeep), I shopped for a snack in a bakery and a clothstore for a big hanky to cover my head and ears in the rather hot sun. Its amazing how hot the sun bears down on you on the open highway even in the middle of winter. Sandeep told me they would stop at a place to eat so i just cycled ahead, and found them waiting at a dhaba at the edge of town. 6 of us were there Karthik, Sylvester, Sandeep, Parag, Sohan and me. Missing were Ratnaveer and Ravindra. We spent a lot of time there , 4 of them went off, Karthik hung back with me while I went off to answer’s nature’s call. I pretty much rode with Karthik for the rest of the journey(except at some points).
After we went off, we spotted Ratnaveer for the first time in a hotel off the road. Goal was to reach midway by 6 or so, but the heat was quite difficult. Karthik flagged me for a sleep break. I tried to follow suit but the flies made my life miserable. He was too tired to bother about the flies (or as he told me later – they were painful at first but after a few minutes i got used to the flies sitting on my face)
There were some shepherds in the vicinity, they bombarded me with the usual questions
1) Where are you from? – Bangalore
2) Where are you headed – Ranebennur
3) Do these tyres contain air? – yes , it is just that we put a lot of pressure in them.
4) When did you start? – 3 am.
5) Is this a race ? – No, it is just a tour.
yada, yada, yada, yada. ..

i started off leaving a fully asleep Karthik, who caught up with me in some time. With 50 odd km to go for Ranebennur it got a little tough. Even though tailwinds were on our side (discovered by the fact that we didn’t smell a few decomposing carcasses of dogs on the road as we were approaching them, but could sniff them well after we passed them, maybe upto 50m+ or more) The last 25 odd km felt like forever . We were cycling in darkness now and the road was not so great. In addition, on the outskirts of Ranibennur there are some polluting factories which give out a horrid stench. The town comes after an 8km detour from the highway. Once we reached town, we tried looking for the others. I called up Sandeep to ask him about the control and his whereabouts to realize we came before them. Sylvester meanwhile popped up in front of us. The 3 of us waited for the rest. Ratnaveer had also joined the gang. So we had a full house minus Ravindra. Karthik and I took a snooze after the dinner, to me it looked that Karthik managed a good sleep,I barely slept for 5 mins but that did help me recover a bit. I had a very light dinner, just two jowar rotis.
I learnt that in North Karnataka, when they say Roti, they mean Jawar Roti. While sitting down to eat,the server asked me what I would prefer – Roti or Chappathi, I was flummoxed. I started at him – What do you mean? What is the difference. His response : Roti is made from Jowar. Ahhh, okay.

The never ending night and sleeplessness
Sylvester and me went ahead to have a coffee on the highway. The rest of the folks went ahead and waited at a Dhaba after a toll booth. As Sylvie and I were riding , I stopped to check my rearlights and my cue sheet, my money , my mobile etc. It took me a while to fix my rear light again. Meanwhile in the distance I saw a train. In the open plains, when it is dark, looking at the outline of a train in the distance feels wonderful, its a nice little sight. I waited for the train to get out of sight before I started. I caught up with Sylvester and Karthik, who informed me that the rest had gone ahead. Soon enough, it was quite apparent that the sleep i managed at dinner was not enough, and i kept drifting off. Sylvester wanted to continue riding and looked for a Dhaba to refresh. i sighted a cafe coffee day hoarding in the distance, and i could sense confused looks from them. It turned out to be an Indian Oil petrol bunk — my mind had begun playing tricks.Soon I could go on no more, Karthik wanted to stop and sleep as well. We used the barrier on top of a culvert to lean back and sleep.
Either at this point, or just before the next ‘sleep-off’ , we asked Sylvester to go ahead. ‘Asked’ of course, is a mild word. He was pretty much told that if he stuck with us( As i would discover during the remaining of the night, Karthik was in far worse shape than me), he had a pretty realistic chance of missing the brevet. I told him that, for the moment, my goal was simply surviving the night and go ahead as much as possible, but i was not in a position to fight sleep. Poor thing , one should have seen his face. He was oh.. so looking forward to good company at night, what he had was a couple of drunkards who were delirious without a drop of alcohol. He went off ahead and we slept. After the 1st or the 2nd sleepover we discovered a Dhaba with a charpoy. The Dhaba owner let us sleep. I suggested we share the bed but soon saw a broken leg propped by a flimsy plastic chair. Karthik graciously agreed to sit and sleep, i was thankful. My lower back was quite badly inflammed and I wanted to sleep on my stomach , arching my back for the 40 mins or so of sleep. Once I got up , my back was much better and I woke up Karthik after some stretching. A tea each later, we left. Only to fall asleep maybe after 15 mins or so. We could continue in this mode , sleep for a while , ride for a while. Amazingly we could not ride more than 15-20 mins at a time. Maybe checking into a lodge would have been better but the danger of a good bed is that you would really sleep , then miss the next control. At many points, I would go ahead (even though I was not pedalling hard), and would see that i had left Karthik behind. Karthik told me not to wait for him, but that didn’t feel right, many times I caught him wobbling at the wheel, and cycling in such a state at night definitely seemed risky, esp with traffic still around. Just when we reached the final climb before Chitradurga, we told each other that we would clear it in one go. And we managed(or we didn’t, was too dazed to remember). But what I did rememeber is that I was surprised when we reached the entrance into Chitradurga. At this point Karthik suggested we go through the city. I wasn’t quite hungry , and I had some emergency food (Chikkis and dates). He started detailing how cycling through the city would be easier with less climbs. I was a little surprised, since even though the bypass was longer, it being the highway we would be faster. That was when he dropped the bomb. He told me he was quitting. i was surprised , since this was the guy who completed 1200km in less than 70 hours with three nights of sleeplessness. i guess everyone has his or her bad day. He apparently had made up his mind around Davangere.

The final solo-ride:
This incident jolted me out of my stupor and I rode ahead. I hoped to carry on, but about 2-3 km on the bypass i again drooped off. So located a stone on the side and sat and slept. I was a little irritated that the bypass had not ended and i had not left the city area. Oh well, I decided i’ll sleep over it. When I woke up i saw that i had actually gone a little ahead of the other end of the city. From here to Hiriyur was mostly downhill. Karthik had left me at about 5:30 or so, and it was now nearly 6. i wanted to try and make it by 7:30 (The control closed at around 9am). That would give me buffer for the end – control. I managed to clock good speed now, it was daybreak and the minimal light meant maximal energy for my pedalling. I used my strength to push ahead, I again felt sleepy somewhere near Aimangala (25km to go), i again found a stone . Nothing like a stone for a stoned person for rest. 8 mins of sleep and i was off again.( I was checking my watch now, as I wanted to speed up). Finally I managed to do a final dash to the city, found Sylvester outside an ATM. Went in, and took the slip, I had made it at 7:17 am , felt relieved for the 1st time in this brevet. I knew I would make it now even with lack of sleep. If nothing else , I knew I could do it Dhoni ishtyle, crawl crawl and just preserve enough energy for one burst. During my adrenaline fuelled trip from Chitradurga to Hiriyur, I was hoping to continue riding fast home after stopping at the ATM. But the moment I came out of the ATM, my legs felt week and I became unsteady – proof that I needed fuelling and I needed a rest, Sylvester went ahead. I stretched and followed suit and took a breat at Surya hotel (my usual eating joint in Hiriyur). Had a decent meal and rest and I was off again.
I gathered over the phone from Sohan that Sandeep and Parag were ahead followed by Sohan and Dharmane. The heat during the day made riding difficult, I wanted to ride fast. First just before the 500km mark, I felt too tired and had to sleep on the side of the road under a tree, using my bike as a (clumsy) shield from the oncoming traffic barely sitting 2 feet off the traffic. I took about 4-5 powernap breaks during the day. Once I took a rest off the road, there was a truck parked on the side. The truck driver came up to me and shot a few questions.
Truck Driver : I saw you in the morning near Chitradurga, amazed you made it so fast here, I just came here a while ago
Me : You’ll find quite a few leisure cyclists like me in Bangalore. We enjoy cycling long distances.
TD : Where are you coming from?
Me : To Ranebennur and back?
TD : How much is that? When did you go? When are you expected back?
Me : Started yesterday (Saturday) 3am and have to be back before 7pm tonight. I expect to make it before 5.
He went on to get his mobile and took a couple of photographs of me.
Me : Where are you from?
TD : Gwalior
Me : That is far. Where are you headed?
TD : Bangalore
Me : That should take about 5 days?
TD : 5,sometimes 6.
Me : What do you transport?
TD : Well, I am a truck driver? I transport whatever goods I am given
Me : I know that , I mean what are the goods you normally transport
TD : Biscuits, Brittania biscuits make their way here from Gwalior
Me : See, thanks to you I learnt something knew today

He smiled, after a few minutes, I got up and bid him bye. The talk had refreshed me, this time I didn’t need sleep. I had borrowed Pradeep’s bike for the ride, and he told me that the front gear stays high all the time, I would not be able to change it down. Believing him, I never tried to lower it during the ride. However the climbs about 20km before Tumkur made me want to try and change it, even if it meant manually doing it. I didn’t want to stand up and pedal that stretch, with a sore knee. And of course, the gears worked. I could downshift and upshift 🙂 Never believe what someone says at face value 🙂 The next event was that I started feeling sleepy with 50 km to go. The last time I drank Coke was at a shop in Dobbspet 40km before endpoint to help me fuel the last stretch. I did the same today. Of course, it did not work. About 7-8km before the Nelamangala toll I dropped off to sleep again, and had to find a clean place to sit under a tree to sleep off. Really surprised because normally your last few km are easily boosted by adrenalin, but today was not to be. But I was riding the last 50km moderately hard. I passed Ratnaveer on the uphill just before the (Nelamangala – Yeshwantpur) expressway toll plaza. Reached the ATM at 5:24 and went to the CCD where JP and Sandeep and Sohan were waiting.
I asked about Sylvester, I was told that he was behind. Sohan then mentioned how excited he was after catching up with them before Hiriyur. I told him about our sojourns the previous night and Sylvie’s disappointment on seeing two drunkards instead of two riders and the realization that he had to do it alone at night 😉

Finally there was some discussion on the toughness of this route . We all agreed that the Tristate was tougher but while i was/am sure that the june ride is tougher , here is an interesting piece. While 8 out of 10 finished this brevet (and the percentage was about 4 out o f 10-12 riders  finished the 600k back then,  the lone rider for both brevets (Parag) took about 90 minutes longer now.

After some chit-chat, a coffee and some rest, I went home. Of course I managed to ride fast home despite the traffic (surprising on a Sunday). After I reached home, wifey remarks – Chiddu your eyes are bloodshot.
Me : What did you expect? I haven’t had proper sleep for about 60+ hours now.

Finally happy that I managed to complete a 600, something that seemed jinxed over the past 2 years. Even though I targetted an early morning Sunday return, at the end I was more than happy that despite serious sleeplessness I managed to pull through 600km. In fact, on this ride I struggled to focus from the word go! And finally, glad that I kicked my ennui and kick-started my brevet seasion with a 600. Looking forward to riding more this season.

The AK-BCB auto pilot ride

A bunch of riders , and rather a big bunch , is riding to Mysore on the 21st Sep(Saturday). It started with a mail from Anil Kadsur

We are riding to Mysore via Kanakapura Road. The ongoing journey is expected to be relaxed ,and we’ll be taking breaks and riding.  The return ride is probably going to be a brisk affair, given that most folks would be wishing to return home early.

The ride features folks who have done longish brevet riders as well as folks who are doing 100+km the first time. We’ll have MTBs, hybrids and road bikes. You never know, we might even have single speed riders.

Poster for the AK-BCB ride

Poster for the AK-BCB ride

  1. Some body (anonymous to me so far) has made up a nice poster for the ride.

Please make sure that you have the following for the ride :

  • A cycle to ride. Its a cycle ride, so it makes sense to ride on one
  • Yourself (or whoever else is going to be riding the cycle)
  • Spare tubes/puncture kit – Its a long ride , you need to be able to fix pnctures.
  • A relaxed mind (There are going to be 100+ people on the ride)
  • A reflective jacket
  • Front headlights
  • Rear lights
  • The above three are all the more important if you plan to ride back.

Flashback :  Back then, in the year 2009 (which sounds really ancient now) , we used to ride every month in what was then called the monthly BBC long ride. Our chief mentor, chief publicist and chief motivating officer , Shri Yogesh Rao would be at it from the beginning of the month plotting a big ride in the country side near Bangalore, and I would be a willing accomplice. To have an idea of how far back 2009 was, picture this. We did not have BRM (brevet) rides in India then. Yes, it was that ancient. In fact none of the cyclists in Bangalore knew about the PBP ride. There were no registrations, no homologations, and a distance of 250 odd km was considered a massive ride back then. Of course we have progressed a lot now, and we know a ride to Mysore and back is at best a day sojourn.

But hey, wait, if the last paragraph intimidated you as a novice rider , relax. That was just me being wicked.  You’ll also get there one day. Seriously there are enough riders of all capabilities riding on that day, so you should be able to find a handful of people who will ride at your pace. And a few of us ( me included) will be sharing our phone numbers, so you don’t get lost. (Again, difficult to get lost , since we are going in a  straight line)

Spread this post far and wide, and ask interested folks to join. Simply show up to ride, no registrations needed. Or just stay put somewhere in the middle of Kanakapura Road at 6 am on Saturday. The thundering train of 100 riders might just sweep you off your feet wheel.

What’s with the name?

BCB stands for Bangalore  – Chamundi – Bangalore . As the name suggests, the folks who are riding back are very religious and they will do a Parikrama of the temple on their cycle before heading back to Bangalore.

AK – Anil Kadsur. The ride was conceived by Anil Kadsur, the original barefoot runner and cyclist in Bangalore. And so the name.

Auto – pilot ?: The route here is really remarkable. Even theough the distance is about 300 km , you just have to break it down into sections to realize that most of it can almost be done on Auto Pilot. We can divide the route into the following sections

  1.  Bangalore – Harohalli : Mostly Downhill I’ve seen most newbies ace this section in 1 hr 15 mins.
  2. Harohalli  : Kanakapura  Rolling terrain Not as easy as the previous section but not very diffcult either , a bit of rolling. 18km distance, and we are at our breakfast point
  3.  Kanakapura – Sathanur  Rolling terrain This section can feel a little difficult but the scenery makes up for it. Vast expanse of beautiful open terrain
  4. Sathanur – Halguru – Malavalli : Downhill Not downhill as you are tumbling down a mountain, but a gentle downhill throughout , minimal pedalling effort , you are chatting with your riding mates ,and boom you are in Malavalli
  5. Malavalli – Bannur : 20km of almost flat terrain . And a canopy throughout.
  6. Bannur – Mysore : Uphill  But you are nearly there now, and it is not steep uphill, but steady relentless uphill needing you to pedal constantly.

The way back is similar: You make it to Ramnagara , it is downhill, almost downhill throughout, and now you have only 50km to go to reach Bangalore. Your homing instinct kicks in, and voila , you are home.

A bit of detail on the plan for the actual day

Here is a rough plan that we have chalked out.

We’ll divide ourselves into three distinct groups.

1) Folks who will ride both ways , same day
2) Folks who will ride one way, return by bus same day
3) Folks will ride one way, stay overnight and return the next day.

Within these groups, there will be sub groups based on speed. It will be difficult to go into too much detail here , but basically on the day of the ride, try to find a group which rides approximately at your pace , and try to stick with them. I’ll (and a few others) will share our phone numbers, so you can ping us for co-ordination.

For groups (2) and (3), I would presume that it would be okay for you guys to reach Mysore even late in the evening. Abhay Kerur has made a list to get an idea of how many need transport on the way back, a separate exercise will have to be undertaken to finalize that by the interested parties.  The rest of the mail below is going to assume that you are going to ride back the same day.

We plan to reach Kanakapura around 8- 8:30 , have breakfast and leave by 9 am. We expect people to take shorter quick brakes on the way for quick bananas, refill etc. We expect most riders to reach around  1 to 3 pm. That is between 7 to 9 hours from the start, and should be more than enough time to cover the distance (especially if you are targeting the return leg). (Of course a fast group can reach around 11:30 – 12:30 as well but we don’t need to worry about them , they will be probably okay )  I plan to ride up Chamundi via the road that goes by the Nandi (this is the shortest and the most challenging route,and also a very peaceful road with a bit of shade, and walkers ),. There are two other routes – the most common being via the main road taken by the buses.

Folks who simply plan to go to Mysore and back (without the climb) can be a bit more relaxed and come later (still before 3). We can probably meet for lunch at around 3 or so – no venue planned for now, but how about the hotel where the rest are going to stay, is that feasible? I mean we will be a massive gang.

For now, we’ll start the return leg before 4 pm, and we should be back home around 10:30 – 11 pm.

PS : A bunch of 10-15 riders will be joining us from Mysore , they will ride towards Bangalore  , meet us enroute and ride back towards Mysore with us. We plan to round of the Bangalore Mysore segment with a ride around the city.

PPS : Abhay Kerur has made a Google Doc to get a list of folks who need to be transported back
Roster for return transportation

PPPS : The ride has got real big now. We have 100+ confirmations and it is very likely that a big lot will show up just on the day of the ride.

PPPPS: Follow the original thread in BBC Ongoing discussion thread on the trip

Update on 20th Sep  :

There are a bunch of folks who will not have the time to ride the entire distance, they are planning to ride till Kanakapura/Sathanur and ride back. This is in addition to the roughly 118 who have confirmed so far. Another bunch of riders are meeting us midway from Mysore and riding back to Mysore with us.

Its a self supported ride : Remember, it is  a self-supported ride , there is no official support vehicle. You and your riding buddies are on your own,but of course, we’ll form an informal support network as we go along and help each other. The groups will de-facto separate on the riders’ speeds and we request riders of similar pace to stick with each other. There are enough villages on the way to relax but there are stretches of 10km or so where you may not find any meaningful shops. 

Shreyas’s Tips , copied from the BBC Thread :

Having done the route quite a few times, I can share a few experiences.

• If you are cramping, you have lost too much salts. Please keep yourselves well hydrated with electrolytes and additional salts if needed. Particularly in the afternoon.
• Take longer breaks around noon to avoid the heat. This means smaller breaks in the morning
• Carry as little as possible. Whatever can be bought enroute can be bought in instalments. Don’t carry unnecessary weight.
• Please carry spare tubes. Fixing punctures will remain an option once you run out of your spare tubes. It slows you down and unless you are riding alone, others as well
• Ride with partners (old or new found) as far as possible. Accommodate some changes in pace. It’s a long ride and you will love the company later.
• Don’t draft vehicles. It’s not illegal, but very dangerous.
• Carry rain gear. Though there’s green house effect, your sweat is not cold enough to cause a fever.
• Not my line, but here goes “look how far you’ve come before you decide to quit”.
• If you’re coming back by bus, get some pieces of carton and local jute rope to fasten your bikes to the Volvo chassis.

My maiden half marathon run at the SCMM2013

I’ve been pretty lazy in my blogging of late. Have a couple of blogs partially written up but haven’t had the chance (or motivation) to finish them. Given the freshness of the just completed HM, I thought I might just do a quick write up and be done with it. My thought earlier this year was to do multiple 10k and get as close to the 50min mark as possible before attempting a HM. But when the registration opened, I was based out of Pune and the temptation was too good to resist. I decided to register and motivate myself to run the distance. While I continued to run over the past few months, there were only 3 instances where I ran a distance of at least 10k at a good speed. In short, I really did not try to keep a proper training schedule but just tried to run frequently, sometimes slow, sometimes steady, but never too fast. I just tried to run hard once in a few days. To gauge my preparedness, I ran 20.93 km early November , and managed it in about 1:52:31. Of course this was on flatland( multiple rounds of my apartment block), but I hoped that race-day adrenalin would power me that extra bit. Some unfortunate events and lots of food over the next couple of months meant I was anything but in shape for the 1st HM of my life. ( I ran the 25k during Bangalore Ultra 2010, but that was more of an exploratory participation where I took it really easy and only pushed myself for the last 5 km and finished in about 3:22:13). This was my serious attempt at running a HM distance at a steady pace.
Really devoid of serious race preparation, I ran 10k on Pongal day in about 54 minutes, and found the going a bit tough. Tried to follow a frugal eating pattern from the 16th accompanied by a heavy meal on the 19th evening, as a carb-loading exercise. On 17th night, I badly twisted my left leg, and hurt at least till I slept that night. The next day morning I decided to try out a short run after strapping up my left ankle, and was surprised I could do it without real pain. I kept working on the knee for the next day till the pain eased out a bit. No real work outs till the race morning, other than the travel to the World Trade Center Expo to collect my running day stuff. On the race morning, I felt comfortable enough to run without the crepe bandage. (Past experience has taught me that a crepe bandage or a supportive device helps protect the injured part, it tends to limit cirulation in other muscles, leading to cramps. – I knew my calf or hamstring would cramp earlier than usual if I strapped up my left ankle, so I gave it a miss).
I went to the venue along with a friend who was participating in the HM. Wanting to limit the weight I carried, I did not carry my phone. I was armed with 3 satchets of Gatorade , and a 1/2 liter sipper filled with Gatorade at the start, along with a satchet of GU Gel. I ran wearing my Go Green bike jersey to hold these things in my back pocket comfortably. I also carried an mp3 player for some musical distraction if required. The Garmin fever hadn’t got on to me as yet, and I used to run many regular road runs using the Endomondo app on my Nokia lumia 800.
I reached the front holding section (A) at around 5:10 or so after taking a loo break. There was serious chill in the morning, and at 5:25 or so , decided to head back to use the bathroom one more time before taking up my position.But the lines were too darn long, so I came back. I wasn’t desparate but considered it a precaution before starting the run, so as not to overfill my bladder in the middle of the run while trying to keep myself hydrated. But it was too late for that, and as I went back, I noticed that the holding lines were taken away by the organizers and C and B section folks had spilled close to the starting block. I coaxed my way into a position close to the starting block. So when the starting block was sounded off, it did not take me long to be free of folks around me. On the HM, the Sea-link emerges into view within a few 100 meters, and I think around the 1st km mark we reached the sea-link.The sea-link start was slighly uphill followed by a plateau and then followed by a slight descent onto Worli. I think by the time we were done with the Sea-link it must have been about 5+km and the early morning darkness had not yet lifted. But the 1st sign of spectators as we took the left turn from the sea link. Even though I did not have a timer with me, I was conscious of running close to 5min/km,possibly slightly slower. I was listening to songs on my mp3 player and roughly had an idea of the song lengths. I was running at a pace that needed me to push a bit, but not too much. I was simply basing it on my previous runs where I felt I had too much mojo left at the end of the run, and could push things a little bit in the early part of the race.
Once we crossed the bridge, it was all flat till we crossed Mahalaxmi and headed towards Malabar Hill.  The 1st stretch was a huge loop which ended at around the 9.3km mark. As I approached the U turn, I could feel myself tiring a little, I had emptied close to 1 liter of Gatorade by the time I crossed the 10km mark, and reached out for the GU gel that I carried with me. I kept sipping it for a while along with water for a while. I could sense myself slowing down a little. I decided to not take it too easy, and still tried to maintain a steady pace. But I could make out that I was slowing down as I could see that the number of people who were going past me had increased to more than a trickle now. I think as we crossed the Haji Ali area, I started cramping up a little, but still kept pushing on. When we reached the Peddar road flyover, I kept going up at a steady pace, conscious not to relax too much. I let myself go to the extent possible at the downhill after that. I think around the 16km mark, I was conscious of some serious cramping sensation on my left leg. I guess, the injury had forced me (automatically) to use up my calf and thigh muscles more to compensate for the injured ankle.I could feel my quads really stiffen up, and when I tried to look at my running, it was obvious I was no longer running with a balanced even gait. Whenthe 2nd uphill came ( I think around Walkeshwar) , I found it a task to push up without slowing down too significantly. When I started off the race, I was hoping to keep some mojo till the 16th km and try and accelerate after that, reasoning that even if I got exahusted by the 19th or 20th km I would just pull through, giving me the best chance of a good finish. But it was obvious now that it would be a struggle to simply maintain a good pace.
Somewhere near Haji Ali, I saw another barefoot runner overtake me. I think this was the first time on the day that I saw another barefoot runner. I didn’t meet anybody during the start of the run.
As I neared km number 18 , around Charni Road railway station, I realized that the number of people who were overtaking was swelling by the minute. And on top of that, there was this elderly gent, who seemed to be leading a group. Every now and then he used to run backwards, and I was shocked that I could not match his pace even when he was running backwards. My body started telling me to give up and walk for a while. But I knew that if I stopped for even an instance, I would stiffen up and would struggle to come back to even the niggardly pace I was managing now. A little further down the road, a young boy, maybe in his late teens or early 20s started walking, and I realized that my running pace was close to his walking pace. My thoughts went out to Manjula doing her 300 co-synchronous with my 1000k cycling effort, and her complaint of me, Open and Deepak racing past her.
As we ended the Marine Lines stretch, the km count went past 19 and we took the left turn past Churchgate railway station, I knew I was in the final stretch to VT, and tried to motivate myself. I put on my music player again, to try and extract some motivation and pump myself up using the beats. By this time, my left leg was a certified log. As I saw the mark that said 1000 meters to go, I forced myself to push up a little bit, and scanned the runners ahead to spot one slow enough for me to pace myself. Found one such person, who had overtook me about a km or two ago. I narrowed the gap between us and now 200m or so was left. As the final turn approached, I was scared to see the digital clock at the finish, thinking it would be well past the 2 hour mark. But to my surprise it showed a little more than 1:56. I summoned whatever strength I could and made one final dash ( if I could call it that – a speed that I would normally associate with a hopelessly overweight mass of protoplasm pushing ahead using its inefficient propulsion engine was today a sprint speed for me). As I crossed the finish line, I mentally eased out and realized I didn’t even have the strength to stand uup, made my way to the side and just lay down on my back for a few seconds to regain my breath.

Left leg stretched forward,dead straight

Left leg stretched forward,dead straight

Right leg ahead, bent at the knees

Right leg ahead, bent at the knees

As I got up, my lower body infrastructure, especially my left leg , had completely ossified. I made my way to the open holding area in Azad Maidan, trundled my way to one of the mobile restrooms. They had put these up on elevated platforms, and climbing up and down was a challenge. I came back, and decided to try and wait to see if I could catch a familiar face, I couldn’t. I met Chetan Bhagat (the author) sitting with a couple of other runners, I plonked down next to them and chatted for a few minutes. After that, I headed out slowly.
I got out of Azad Maidan slowly, and it was another major exercise to find my way onto VT station. There was one narrow lane and a huge crowd was headed in the opposite direction. By the time I figured out the way to the subway and reached the station it must have been well past 9. The train was quite empty, and met another runner who was getting down at Bhandup. He was 47 years old, and quite unhappy that his timing had gone down from 2:05 to 2:25 or so, with a sore knee. As is my wont, I advised him to try and transition into a barefoot runner.
My final timing was 1:57:23 with a gun timing of 1:57:30. There must have been a time differential between the start point and end point digital clocks, accounting for the difference. Hopefully I’ll train better for my next run, losing some weight, and getting into a better rhythm for longer runs. But at the end of the day, if someone had told me that I would finish my first HM in less than 2 hours, I would have taken it, so I do go home happy, my timing cribs notwithstanding.

It has been 3 days now, and I am still ‘limping back to normal’. A friend, Firoza shared the following video on Facebook,  I can’t emphasize how much I empathize with the folks in the video right now 🙂