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Old 21st June 2017, 18:04   #1
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Default A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power

The trip from Fat to Fit - A Randonneuers Story!

Getting out of the house is 50% of the job done!!

Whoever said that deserves a Nobel (any category...he's a genius!). So at 121.2 kgs in mid-Feb 2016, I hardly could get out of the house. Walking 500 meters would me take a couple of breaks, climbing up a flight of stairs would feel like a small hike and a time came when even resting was exhausting ... everything was just a chore through which I trundled along. Another casualty was my sense of style (that’s what they call the way we dress…right?) , Good brands didn’t make the size or shape I was getting into so I got into Plus-size stores...XXL to 5XL, I wore them all, bigger the better to hide my ever increasing girth.

Attempts were made to reduce the flab...dreaded diets, sweaty gyms, sizzling saunas, damp steam rooms and eager trainers. I spent a small fortune trying out every trick in the book only to give up in a few weeks feeling worse off than when I started.

Now at over 120kgs and counting, push had come to shove...something had to be done.

Cycling was a childhood passion but had stayed limited to my childhood...And so here I was on a cheerful Sunday morning with a bunch of youngsters (not that I am too old but like they say "you are as young or as old as you feel" so by that yardstick I was a grandfather) with a sparkling new bicycle in my hand all of 21 gears, disc brakes, and other jargon like deralliuers and suspension locks! Everything was good except the seat which seemed too small to accommodate my rump however I didn’t want to let my wifey down so got on to the bicycle and started following the herd.

The first few kms were a breeze after which the head was buzzing with excuses that I needed to make to get out of the rut that I had got myself into but the guys kept pushing me and it ended in a 34km ride along the coastal roads of Vasai (a leafy suburb near Mumbai). I was exhausted beyond words but exhilarated at the same time that I could manage the ride and thus began an ongoing association with the pedal.

I started getting out of the house...the alarm clock was working overtime. Every morning saw me discover new roads around Mumbai and Vasai.

Sometimes I would ride to Madh Island, right down to the jetty then on some days I would challenge myself to cover uphill’s near Uttan and Gorai. Getting adventurous meant riding down to the Gateway of India from the 'burbs and to Vasai on the weekends covering over 100kms. I started getting confident and joined cycling groups, riding with them on longer rides of over 120kms a few times.

Cycling helped me get out of the house and I started enjoying the gym after a ride. The weight started going down...sizes came down...I could go to normal stores and get my sizes. It was transformational therapy (is there such a thing?) where the change in my exterior transformed my interior!

Egged on by friends, I started running (really!). Took part in a few 10k runs and even a Duathlon (5k run followed by a 40k off-road cycle ride and a 5k run again) completing every event under the cut-off time,
So here I was feeling fit...in the shape of my life (not figuratively) I was still an O and weighed in around 85kgs but the confidence was sky-high!

The first official step towards amateur endurance cycling is BRM or a brevet for short. These are un-aided rides of over 200kms to 1200kms organized by Audax, Paris in over 40 countries. India started around 2010 and has since been having regular brevets. So again, here I was 9 months down the line thinking about riding my first brevet, a Mulund - Charoti (NH8) - Mulund flat out 200kms ride to be completed under the cut-off time of 13.30hrs.

There were apprehensions but I was confident having done a few 100+ rides over the past few months.

And again there I was on Nov 19 at 6am in the morning lined with guys who looked like those professional cyclists we see on TV all geared up and raring to go! I don’t deny a slight palpitation seeing the lean and mean guys dressed to the T on their professional road bikes and me in my regular Tee and shorts, a borrowed reflective vest and a humble hybrid (cross between and mountain bike and a road bike) but Linkin Park buzzed in my headset…

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

Yes, I it didn’t matter If I were to fail as I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone except to myself and my loved ones who know me and my journey thus far.

So off I went, it was a chilly November morning and the initial kms flew by. Those who know the route from Mulund checknaka to Ghodbunder will know the terrain and the number of flyovers on the route to be crossed just to get to NH8 but the initial rush of adrenaline pushed me through with the group.

NH8 is mostly rolling terrain and having done this route a few times before gave me the confidence to tackle the route effectively keeping pace with the more experienced guys. The morning chill and pleasant breeze added to the comfort factor and the first 100km control point at Charoti Naka came up in 4hrs 41 mins way ahead of the cut off time at over 20kmph which was a respectable average. I had taken just one small break to refill my water stock and was feeling just fine.

Completed the control point formalities and chatted up with fellow riders over an enerzal and snickers and was ominously told ‘the first 100kms are always easy, the real test will start now’ and what a test it was!
Now normally whenever I have ridden over 100kms I have started at 4am so as to return latest by 1pm in the noon but here I was at 11.30am with over 100kms to go and the sun was just starting to shine through.

Pedal…Pedal and then Pedal some more….

One line that keeps me going is
"Darr ke aage Jeet hai aur Uphill ke aage Downhill hai!!"

Climbing the uphill bits was getting harder by the kilometer but the downhills kept me in the game. After the 130kms mark at around 2.30pm the sun was really beating down and the heat was sapping all the remaining energy. Cramps started setting in and the breaks started getting more frequent. The sun had moved to the west and tree shade was hard to come by as I crunched the kms.

I reached the Junction of NH8 and Ghodbunder road at around 4pm clocking around 175kms, the sun was still bearing down and the going was getting tough with each push of the pedal. The uphill section in the Ghodbunder Ghat really bogged me down and I had to get off and walk the remaining 100mtrs up the hill. The downhill section relaxed me a bit and I took a longish break at a tea-stall near Retibunder (20kms from the finish). The cramps were getting worse, the breathing heavy and legs felt like lead. I decided to take it 5kms at a time as I was way ahead of the cut-off time of 7.30pm

Starting off again was difficult…the body said give up…the mind said GO…so go I did!

Just before Thane city starts after the Ghodbunder road, there are a number of flyovers…fellow riders suggested that I climb up the inclines as the decline of the road helps the legs to relax but I was in no mood to push myself over the flyover incline and took the road below taking a few breaks again in the shade and stretching my tired legs to avoid debilitating cramps.

At around 5pm the weather started getting cooler and with the finish line in sight I started pedaling with renewed vigour. The traffic was piling up at the Thane – Mulund highway and I started riding along the shoulder of the road. On one slight incline I put my head down to push through to the top and missed seeing a parked bus on the side of the road. In a bid to avoid it, I turned sharply but a moving rickshaw brushed past my elbow and I crashed head-on into the back of the bus. Thanks to the helmet and my low speed, I got away with just a bruised elbow and a slightly sprained neck. I sat by the side of the road thinking my race was over as the cycle must have got damaged but luckily apart from a few dinks everything was just fine.

Just a couple of official clicks enroute.

A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power-15168673_10210948172518688_1026890080383420122_o.jpg

A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power-15168678_10210948198279332_6773479054297892487_o.jpg

I took one last break and got back on the saddle making my way through thick traffic towards the finish line finally making it at exactly 5.42pm…11hrs 42 mins point to point and 10hrs 5mins on the saddle without breaks. 109 riders of the initial 120 finished and I was 75th on the finish line!!

Done and dusted!!

Last edited by nix1976in : 21st June 2017 at 18:13.
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Old 21st June 2017, 18:14   #2
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Default re: A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power

Great ride there. I have done the same distance in a few months in 2017.

Cycling is a great way to reduce weight.
Took up a new year resolution in 2017 and I've reduced flab and cut weight from 87 to 69 kg by doing bi monthly cycle rides. I've done about 250 km in 2017 and my longest ride was 37 kms in the city. (Start-Stop-Start)

It's a great habit and keep it up!

p.s. Try to give up milk products to whatever extent. I drink only green tea and I can maintain my weight.

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 21st June 2017 at 18:15.
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Old 22nd June 2017, 22:33   #3
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Default Re: A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power

This is a different kind of travelogue where the distances or places don't matter. Kudos to you for pushing yourself up the limits and keep cycling. I guess most of us ( the lazy gooses ) can relate to what you were saying in initial part of spending a fortune in all types of activities where the result remains same - no weight reduction but only the wallet reduces !!But your perseverance to achieve a goal is stupendous. Keep cycling!!!
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Old 23rd June 2017, 02:52   #4
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Default Re: A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power

Congratulations fellow Mumbai randonneur! Don't stop here - keep it going. Charoti BRM is the easier of the Mumbai brevets, a lot of first time randonneurs start from that route (including yours truly!). Plan for (and do) the Kasara ghat and Bhor ghat routes All the best for the future brevets. Remember; one you are bit by the BRM bug, it's never easy to stop!

Mumbai Randonneur team has an excellent community led by Anil, with many other helpful folks such as Deep, Kiran and a whole lot of other folks to support each other. It's awesome fun to ride with these folks! Have fun!

Last edited by ninjatalli : 23rd June 2017 at 02:54.
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Old 23rd June 2017, 10:45   #5
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Default Re: A different road-trip : 200 km on pedal power

Wow simply amazing the way you have pushed yourself against so many odds, congratulations on achieving the milestone. Now there is no stopping you. Keep it going . I too have a cycle but since I have taken up another hobby on the weekends excuse not to pedal. Positively must start using it on my commutes.
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