Wednesday 14 October 2015
Endurance and Glory
(Rahul has been riding with Discover on Wheels since the club's inception. On October 11, he completed the Super Randonneur series with Subhajyoti. Here's what he feels after the achievement)
While thinking of sharing my experience of BRM with you, words like fatigue, exhaustion, hallucination, numbness, cramps, injuries comes to my mind first, but then words like fitness, endurance, courage, willpower, fame, recognition, glory, over powers them all and inspires me to go on for BRMs again and again.
Instead of talking about how tough 400 BRM was, I would like to talk about the things that I have learned during Randonneuring.
At the starting point of 400 BRM on October 10, 2015, at 6am, I was oozing with confidence and energy. I think this confidence and resolute feeling was the result of my previous success at completion of 200, 600 & 300 BRM, consecutively.
The first 100km was a piece of cake. Me and Subho were easily able to maintain an average speed of 30kmph. After covering 160km in just 6 hours 30 minutes, we decided to take a lunch break at Panagarh, which lasted for 45 minutes. Now, the halfway mark was only 40km away. But because of traffic and scorching sun, we ended up spending 2.25 hours to reach Raniganj (200km). After lavishly spending 2 hours at Joy Da’s (a good friend) home, we took off to our way back. On the road, heavy traffic, dust and pollution welcomed us. After riding for 2.30 hours, we were only able to cover 35km only.
Lesson learned No. 1: Things like weather and traffic are never in your control. So while planning your BRM one must allot some time window, especially for such unknown variables.
Lesson learned No. 2: Never spend too much time resting. A 45-minute rest would be more than sufficient after riding 200km. Anything more than that is a waste of your precious time.
Riding in traffic and pollution was very tiring. Clock was showing 8.35pm and we decided to have dinner. After dinner we rode another 15km, after which we broke free form the traffic and rode at a very brisk pace for next 45km. Now the clock was showing 12.15am.
It has been 18 hours since we started and now we were left with only 105 km more to go. We took another 15-minute break, after which I decided to push my body to its limits. I thought let’s finish this as soon as possible. I was pedalling hard and was cruising at above 45kmph and covered another 18km in just 25 minutes. The confidence and energy that I spoke of earlier were now replaced by fatigue and exhaustion. I was completely drained out and was struggling. I had a sharp pain at the left side of my chest. I was not certain what exactly it was but I suspected it was my heart. I got scared and hence was taking breaks after every hour or so. Riding speed came down to 20kmph. The only thing that was moving at a brisk pace was time. Now that’s what I call irony (LoL). Every 10km now felt like a BRM in itself. I was hallucinating. The last 50km was the toughest 50km of my life.
Lesson learned No. 3: Pushing yourself at the start of the line is a good thinking but doing the same after covering 300km and spending 18 hours with the elements is certainly a bad idea. It was not just the heart but every organ in my body was rejecting my decision.
Next time when I checked my watch it was 4 in the morning and we were still 35km behind the finish line and in front of us there was a traffic jam I had never seen before. Thousands of trucks were standing one after another. Nothing was moving at all. Standstill traffic for next 13km! That reminds me of the first lesson I learned.
It took us 2 more hours to reach the finish line. I and my fellow rider Subhajyoti Sen Sharma (Subho) arrived at City Center 2 (the final check point) at 6.11am on October 11, 2015. That was the last event of Audax India Randonneurs (AIR) Kolkata for the calendar year 2014-2015. And on that note I and my good friend Subho both have successfully completed our goal of nailing all four BRMs.
And the last lesson that I learned is that BRMs above 300km are always difficult no matter how well trained or how may BRMs you have nailed in the past. Good amount of planning and execution are required to have positive results.
I Would like to thank my mom, dad and my wife Deepika for supporting me.
Also a big thank to Subhajyoti SenSharma. He and I have done all the BRMs together. I couldn’t have done this without him.
Thank you Supratim Pal and Nishant Maheshwari for bringing Brevet to Kolkata and hence making all this possible.
And thanks to all my good wishers, friends and fellow riders for the support and appreciations.