Tuesday 24 March 2015

A Journey of a Randonneur

(For Kuntal Kuilaya, an IT professional, cycling has been a passion, which has inspired him to touch new horizon everyday. In his first blog for Discover on Wheels, Kuntal comes up with his bicycling diary that has now scribbled with brevet jottings)

It was someday in December 2013. Checked Facebook as usual and somehow my eyes got hooked to a post that some guys are going to the Sundarbans from Kolkata on bicycles and there was an open invitation for anyone who want to join. Out of curiosity, I contacted the person organising the ride and after some discussions, planned to hook up. That was the first day when Subhajyoti and my paths crossed. We got to know that we have some more like-minded fellows of this little tribe called “cyclists”. It was a sudden decision to travel that far on my BSA Photon and I did not regret for that decision from that day.

Comprising some more people from our own city, Discover on Wheels was formed after a few days from then. It was inevitable to happen someday. With days, I got to meet with its founder-members like Supratim, Nishant, Subhajyoti, Joynath’da and it was a homely atmosphere from the very beginning. Being part of Team DoW from the initial days is a nice memory to cherish. Time passed on and the tribe started growing. I had little bit of knowledge regarding bikes, their use, what are required and what not among others. I also bought an MTB as off-road-pedalling attracts me always.

In July 2014, we decided to get into something more serious, more constructive — the BRMs. At that time, Kolkata had no club organising BRMs. Some of us decided to attempt 200km BRM in Hyderabad. I talked with Abhishek for the first time to plan it better and within a short span, I got to meet another humble human being. The planning was done with Supratim, Nishant, Subhajyoti, Joynath’da, Abhishek, Ashis, Chandranath. And there came the disaster. One over-excited mason with his roadster pounded on me from behind on one fine evening just two weeks before the event. Achilles tendon of my left leg got partially torn resulting no more cycling in the next four months. The recovery took a painful seven months and then I could concentrate on pedalling properly and the BRMs again.

Maiden BRM: 300km on January 23, 2015

I never rode more than 100km at a stretch in the last six months due to injury then. So I was a bit sceptical whether I can do it or not. Accompanied by three fellow riders, I started the journey. And boy, what a journey that was! I did enjoy every bits and pieces of it. Accompanied by RakeshAgarwal from Rourkela, I dusted the whole route together in a nice way.

Bike used: Fomas Roadking
Time: 15.20.00
Lessons learnt: In BRMs, you need a speedometer to measure your speed. It is not about pedalling fast. It is about pedalling calculative as per the situation appears. If the speedo has a backlit display, it is good to measure at night too

Second BRM: 400km on February 21, 2015

The success of 300BRM in the previous month made me confident and I did proceed with an undersized hybrid bike this time. As an inevitable result, due to lack of proper saddle height and wrong frame size, this BRM took a toll on me. Accompanied by three other riders, we started in the right pace. But after midway, while returning from Raniganj to Kolkata, knee pains and saddle sores became literally intolerable and slowed down myself and Justin David Neal. Physical exhaustion and mental exhaustion took place heavily and our strong willpower fought with our bodies to keep up pedalling. Finally, I completed just 20 minutes before the cut-off time.

Bike used: Fuji Absolute S
Time: 26.40.00
Lessons learnt: For riding long distances, bike fit is one of the most important things. Oversized and undersized bikes can take a toll on you on long rides

Third BRM: 600km on March 21, 2015

It was an amazing brevet for me as I had to ride solo more than 90% all through the route. In the first 200km from Kolkata to Raniganj, the terrain was almost flat. Then the next 200km starting from Raniganj to Topchanchi (Jharkhand) and back tested me rigorously under the scorching sun as inhuman gradient was a part of Jharkhand’s landscape. Added to that, chilly cold at night from Topchanchi to Asansol was second round of torture on the skin. I also saved myself once as sleepiness took over me for fraction of second and got unbalanced and about to hit the temporary dividers kept on the road. Thankfully, no crash or puncture happened. Then reaching Raniganj, I took a power nap of two hours at Joynath’da’s place after completion of 400km. On a short and sudden notice, he and Joyanto arranged for so much including post-ride exercises for me in the middle of the night. Then the last 200km comeback happened on the flat road. I took almost six hours to complete the final 100km with my exhausted muscles.

I wish to extend special thanks to Justin David Neal (in picture above) for his Scottie. Amazing bike he gave me. And Joynath’da and Joyanto for their hospitality. It was a gala ride for me in terms of having food also. Along the highway, I stopped at many places and got chance to taste locally made dishes. Brevets are good for foodies too, but you should have hygienic foods only which will not give you any trouble on the way.

Bike used: Scott Speedster 50
Time: 36.00.00
Lessons learnt: One more thing I’ve learnt in this brevet that each and every petrol pump on the highways has water filters. People over there are enough kind and hospitable to let you fill yours and they love chit-chats. And never ride with empty bottles.

Fourth BRM: 200km (yet to plan)

With this BRM, I will get the Super Randonneur (SR) title for this 2014-15 season. BRMs are not only for personal achievements. It is a teamwork indeed, helping fellow people on road, motivating others when they have given up, accompanying them till the end. It’s all about joy, fun and frolic on the road. Behave well with the locals, interact nicely with the curious people of the road, do chit-chats with the bikers who show interest in this sport and you will never feel the exhaustion happening.

Chiro’da once gave us a very useful advice — eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. Those words are apt unless you fall in those situations.



  1. Its nice to share your experience so that others can learn before hand and get motivated. Grt going Kuntal, best wishes for the next 200BRM and congratulation in advance for the SR title.

  2. Awesome Wight-up... This sharing of experience will helps us a lot..... Perfect team man & a ranndouner... Wish u an advance congrats for your Super Ranndouner series... Keep up the cycling spirit

  3. Good work dude... Looking forward to riding with you

  4. Osm yaar. Keep going. If u cm across Bangalore let us meet.