That Killer Ride

CYCLING STORIES

“Do you have an Allen key?” he asked while I was about to overtake him. I slowed down and looked for some shade to keep away from the winter rain. We couldn’t find any tree or bus shelter, so we decided to step down right on the roadside and get the problem solved.

It was about 10:00 in the morning and I was approximately 85 kilometers away from home, participating in a Republic Day ride, the longest distance I have cycled in a day and my first effort in randonneuring. A few breaks from our first check point (54 km from the start), I came across this gentleman who rode in late. Very soon we found out that our riding patterns are similar – slow and steady, with some breaks. Paramjeet and myself were both new to the concept of brevet and neither of us have crossed the 100-kilometer milestone yet.

xbiking-in-the-rain-jpg-pagespeed-ic-hcczktq6pt

Thou Shalt be Kind to Other Cyclists in Need

A few more kilometers and Param indicated me to slow down again. I saw that he had a flat tyre. “Do you mind slowing down for me? Honestly, I am not used to changing flat tyres.” I agreed. By then the intensity of the rain has increased manifold. We stopped along the Delhi – Rohtak Highway Corridor to replace the tube. My only experience of repairing a punctured tyre was within the comfort of my home, where I had the luxury of pleasant weather, lot of tools to work with and the support of my teenage son.  I didn’t mention anything about it to Param, though. The public who we came across on the road was quite helpful. Before my mentioning that we are on a strict time trial, they understood that we are participants of a racing event and suggested the possible location of a tyre repair center from where we could get the bike back in shape. We didn’t have enough time to explain that brevets are not racing events, and we thankfully accepted their suggestion to find out the shop. Due to the incessant rain, almost all commercial establishments appeared closed, except for a couple of small tea stalls. I rode along and found out a car service center which was closed, but upon very persistent and humble requests, the staff decided to help us. After about 2 hours of running around, we were finally back on the road again.

The second 50-kilometer stretch was tiresome and the road a little confusing. Thank God – LittleTalk had some battery juice left in it, which helped me double-check the GPS location one last time before it died down. I’m lucky, I thought. I could communicate with the Marshalls waiting for us to report at the 100 km check point. I also updated the wife that my phone battery might last another few minutes, and that this shall be our last telephonic conversation for the day, so she shouldn’t panic if I am not reachable on phone. She had promised to visit the finishing point before 7:30 evening, our finishing time. Little did I know how the day was waiting to unfold.

U-Turn of the Day

After updating the marshals about my position and the approximate time I would pedal in to report at the 100km check point which was in fact located at 103km, I pushed through and reached the spot and got my brevet card stamped. I had some snacks from the support vehicle, gulped down some water and initiated the return trip. It felt as though the intensity of the rain is getting doubled with every kilometer I passed through, and the falling of raindrops felt like stones thrown at me. At this point, Param suggested that I keep going. He might not be able to catch up with me, and I shouldn’t miss the next timeline and checkpoint. I flew forward.

Don’t be afraid of the dark

It is winter season, also it was a rainy day. No one knew when day did turn to night. Though I promised myself not to stop again before I see the next check point, I had to pay heed to the cry of my muscles for more energy and some rest. I took a couple of pit stops to munch some home-made cookies of oats and chocolate (Energy snacks from the better half. If you have any questions in that regard, please post it on the comments section below, and she shall answer them for you) before continuing my journey. Rain kept lashing at me, and I was shivering in the wind while I had those pit stops in abandoned bus shelters along the highway. There was no option other than to keep pedaling. I found that pedaling gave me the warmth I needed to survive, and hence shall have to pedal on not just to reach home, but to reach there in sound health.

I switched on the headlamps and rear blinkers before I crossed the Delhi border to return. Most of the roads were water-logged with lots of potholes. In the maddening traffic, I had to pedal really hard to pull through potholes, random traffic and stagnant water to avoid putting my feet down in the water. With full throttle, I pushed through Peeragarhi to enter Delhi’s city limits. I remembered the advice of the marshals – “better get going, you’ll face heavy traffic on the way back when you enter Delhi.” Wise words.

Inside Delhi the rain was lighter. It might have rained all day, because I found that the left side of the road had lots of water, to avoid which I had to ride through the middle of the road in many areas. Since I proactively display hand signals quite early before changing lanes or taking turns, most cars adjusted with me – something I didn’t expect from drivers in that part of the city, and hence I nodded in thanks towards many of them.  The ride back was hard and tiresome both physically and mentally.

There were moments when I reflected myself whether I should bother to take more pain to complete the ride. The easier part would be to quit in the middle to deviate and take a shorter route to reach home to rest or to hire a vehicle to carry my bike and me home. It takes a lot of courage to overcome these thoughts and keep riding. Somehow, I managed to do just that.

200

At 8:38 PM, I finished my ride. All 205 kilometers completed in 14 hours 08 minutes. I am happy to declare that I have exceeded my riding targets, and cross the magical three-digit riding mark. My family was there, patiently waiting at the closing point to welcome me home. After all the ordeal I had been through the whole day, it felt wonderful to be home. I thank the organizers and riders of Noida Randonneurs who put up this effort and helped me overcome my fears on the road.

What is the longest distance you had covered in a single day on a bicycle? Let me know your experience.

 

Image courtesy: thetyee.ca

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. bgddyjim says:

    I did 200k once, solo in the middle of nowhere, in 7:03 and some change. After that I never felt it necessary to break 185 k.

    Nice job, man. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you for the kind words, brother. Keep inspiring me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SonniQ says:

    I miss not being able to ride my bike. It was great for riding the streets in key west but not up and down the hills of Pennsylvania. I don’t have that kind of stamina anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      It is all in the head, dear Sonni. I ride mostly because I enjoy feeling the wind in the hair. Cycling is meditation, for me. It helps me clear up the mind. Pick up the bike once again. I promise, you won’t regret. 🙂

      Like

  3. silicasun says:

    A test of endurance well narrated. Congratulations on completing the bike ride in what in my opinion translates into an experience of a lifetime. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you for the kind words. I picked up serious cycling quite late in life, and wasn’t very sure if I would be able to ride more than 100 kilometers in one single ride. This event which I had signed up for required me to cross 200 kilometers in 13 hours 30 minutes. So it was my first attempt on this kind of a ride. Yes it was an experience of a life time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations Manu for successfully completing a ride so long and under the given highly unfavorable conditions while helping out your fellow cyclist. Definitely teaches us a thing or two about life. Must have felt heavenly when you’d finished the ride! Your write ups are detailed and interesting to read btw😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you very much for the kind words. I really hope to develop my skills as a long-distance rider, but it is in my nature to stop and smell the roses. So if you see my posts, it is not about the kilometers and the statistics I am more engrossed in, but the roads I take, the feel of the traffic, the people I meet on the roads, etc. that keep me going. Yes, you are right – it feels heavenly once I completed the ride. Due to spending time to help the fellow rider, I missed my finishing time mark of 13 and a half hours. I reported late by one hour and five minutes, and hence I was disqualified for a medal. Yet I think I did the right thing by encouraging someone’s cycling efforts. Thank you once again for reading my blog. Have a wonderful 2018.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think that’s the best part of these adventures, that one can get an opportunity to stop and feel the surrounding, soak in the joy and then continue with the journey. Yeah, you suffered a loss but then you helped someone along your journey, not many can do that, it’s incredible 😊

        Liked by 3 people

  5. thecheekycyclist says:

    Wow! What a big ride! Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you very much. I’m learning 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Manu, To never break 100k then do 205 is pretty incredible, time limit or not. You painted a clear picture of an arduous event. My top distance is 108 miles, and 202 in 2 days, both charity rides in Texas, USA. Thanks for liking my post, nice to know a fellow cyclist in India. I have a few followers in Strava from there. Same name if you want to find me there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you for the kind words. Yet to use Strava. Seems like I shall have to start using it soon. 🙂

      Like

    2. Manu Stanley says:

      Thank you my friend. I have started following you on Strava. My name is Manu Stanley.

      Like

      1. That’s awesome, I just saw that. Sorry my biking is not very far or fast these days. Best wishes, Manu!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Manu Stanley says:

        Thank you very much. Anyways, it is great to be connected. I am otherwise a typical bike commuter. I try to ride far only on the weekends. 🙂

        Like

      3. Me too! Enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

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