Monday, 29 December 2014

Battle of Body and Mind

(For Rahul, 600km brevet is a stepping stone for ultra cycling. "It seems to be a big figure but in reality, it’s just another milestone. I always knew that a human body is capable of doing great things so I told myself, let’s put that thought to the test. It’s a fight within — between the body and the mind")

We — Sudipto, Subho and me — started from City Centre, New Town, at 12.30am on December 20 for our maiden attempt of Brevet 600.

It was quite cold — the cellphone app showed 11 degrees Celsius but felt like 7°C — and we were going at a very comfortable speed as we knew that a long road lies ahead of us.

We almost took five hours time to reach our first check point (Sher-e-Punjab, Kolaghat), which was 88km from the starting point. We did not took a break there and kept on moving after taking a selfie at the unmanned control point.

The next control point was 190km away and we were moving at an average speed of 25km per hour or a bit more. After covering 140km, we took rest for 10 minutes at Balihati, just a few kilometre before reaching Kharagpur. Next stop we took after covering a total distance of 160km was a dhaba were we first “unloaded” and then loaded ourselves with good breakfast followed by half-an-hour rest.

We practically killed more than an hour there and started again at approx 10.40am. We took small breaks after every 30km and rode next 100km in five-and-a-half hours (approx) after which we took a lunch break of half an hour.

The next control point was only 15km away at Remuna Balasore bus stop where we reached around 5.20pm and moved on towards Soro. We kept on pedalling and reached Soro, around 35km from Balasore control. We took a 15-minute break before reaching the control point, which was only a kilometre away. We finally reached Natapada Chowk — the 300km mid-point of the brevet — at 9pm where we took dinner and an hour’s nap. We knew that we did not have enough time in hand with only 18 hours left.

We started our ride back to Kolkata from Soro around 10.45pm amid chill beyond our imagination. Adding to our woes, were poor visibility, knee pain and saddle sore.
The next 200km was really difficult. We all were pedalling hard all night long. At every 20km, we were taking a break of 5 minutes. Maintaining an average speed of approximately 22km per hour, we kept on pedalling. After riding 100km, we noticed that four hours have already passed and it was 3am. In the wintry morning, we all needed some rest so we three decided to take a 20-min short nap at a roadside dhaba but that 20 minutes stretched to an hour and we were back on the saddle around 4.05am.

Now, we were taking breaks at every 10km or so and our average speed went down to 18km per hour. Poor visibility and extreme cold were slowing us down. We firmly decided that no matter what happens, we have to finish before time. It was 8am in the morning with the Sun was out and weather turning warmer. In the last four hours, we covered approximately 88km.

While we were taking a break, we were informed that in the next two hours we need to reach the Sher-e-Punjab, Kolaghat, control point, which was 30km away. We rested for another 15 minutes and then took off for Kolaghat. At Sher-e-Punjab, we had our breakfast and got fresh and then started at 11am for the finish line, which was only 77km away. 

Knowing that we have five-and-a-half hours to cover only 77km, we moved at a comfortable pace. We made several halts and reached City Centre, New Town, at 3.16pm.

Happiness is not the feeling that describes the moment. I would say we were rather relieved then happy. The difficulty faced on the route only makes the journey more adventurous. If anyone ask me to sum up Brevet 600, then I would say “what doesn’t kills you but makes you stronger”.

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