My training partner and i cycled from Mumbai (the air india bldg at nariman point) to pune (pune univ) on Monday, 4th april, 2011. The total distance we covered was 167.44 km at an average speed of 23.3 k/hr (sorry- having Garmin, makes you a stickler for details). We left at 1:40 am, to avoid the heat, and it was a good call, since after 8:30 am on the highway really makes you feel like you are riding through a blast furnace and the wheels stick to the road. We made it to Pune univ in exactly 7 hours and 10 min, without stopping the clock in between.
AT THE START AT AIR INDIA
We had Jaideep's car following us and serving the dual purpose of providing light on the road, as well as carrying fluids and carbohydrate gels. The weather was actually giving us sleepless nights, but turned out to be perfect on race day. The ride through mumbai was not too bad, since the late night revellers were all partied out on sat night itself, after India's world cup win. At the start point, some of Jaideep's office colleagues surprised us and followed us on their bikes till Chembur (Enfield motorcycles, not bicycles). So, for a brief moment in the sun, or should i say darkness, we felt like Tour de France riders with escort bikes on either sides and a car following with a spare bike. To add to that feeling, we were kitted out in Lance Armstrong's Radioshack jersey. They peeled away at Chembur and then it was just us and our friends, the truckers, who for good measure would stick their hands onto their wonderful pressure horns, everytime they see a cyclist go pass. At Panvel, our friend Prashant joined us, and we took the Panvel bypass. The panvel-khopoli stretch is the nicest stretch, road wise, though fairly undulating. This takes you by surprise the first time, since it appears fairly flat. However, having done this stretch a few times before, we were prepared for it. It was a moonless night, in great contrast to when we rode this stretch two weeks ago, since at that time it was the night of the 'brightest moon' according to scientists.
The stretch upto the base of the Bhor ghat was super, though as we neared, a sense of anticipation, mixed with a healthy dose of anxiety crept over us. There was no strong breeze to greet us at the start of the Ghats, unlike in our last practice ride, which made our life miserable. We started the ascent around 5:15am in darkness, with only trucks for company. Its funny, but the obvious struggle of the trucks up the steepest
portions of the ghat, somehow gave me a sense of how difficult the climb was, and made me feel better . Maybe it was the knowledge that I am not the only one suffering. The climb up the ghat was hard, as expected, but not too bad. When one completes the ghat on the 'old road', it feels like its all over. But then you join the expressway portion of the ghat, and that seems unterminable too...it goes on for about 5 km. Reaching Khandala, there was a palpable sense of relief, though the next 20 km are still a gentle uphill. I took my first pit stop (or should i say 'piss' stop to be more accurate) outside of Lonavla, though it was less than 2 minutes.
After Lonvavla are the kamshet ghats, which after the Bhor ghat feel like a piece of cake. At the base of that ghat, my cycle chain came loose, but luckily i was able to fix it in under a minute and was on my way again.
At Dehu road we took the right hand of the fork and joined the road which is an extension of the expressway. At Sadanand Resorts, we took a left and headed about 8 km further, till we reached Pune university gates, our planned end point. The garmin, however showed 167 km, while we had promised to do 175 km for charity. So, after taking a few pics we hauled ourselves back on the bike and rode back another 10 km.
And here is the charity angle.......on the friday before the ride, Jaideep took the lead and decided to ask friends and family to pledge money for charity towards the Akanksha Foundation and St. Judes homes (which provides housing and food for children undergoing cancer treatment). We were overwhelmed and humbled by the response we got- in 48 hours, before we even got on the bike, we had upwards of Rs. 11 lakhs pledged to these causes. It really helped power our legs, through all the times when self-doubt crept in, and in the end the whole endeavour seemed so worth it.
Being a cyclist site, i think its important we mention our training routine and nutrition schedule on the ride.
we started cycling seriously at the end of jan, after the marathon- so about10 weeks of training. The cornerstone of training was the long ride every sunday. We started with 40 k and progressively increased the distance. Long rides included, a bombay- khandala ride, bombay-khopoli-bombay ride, and a panvel to pune ride. In addition, we did one more day a week of hill training on the slopes of napean sea road, and strength training 2 days a week.
On the ride, we remained well hydrated, consuming a bottle of gatorade every hour and a pack of carb energy gel every hour. All in all, it was wonderful to have set a goal, and then systematically gone about achieving it. The icing on the cake was clearly the money we raised for good causes.
Below are all the garmin links to our bom-pune ride as well as some of the training rides. I would love your feedback, comments, questions.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/77215868 Mumbai to Pune-april 4
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/75875802 Panvel to pune-march 27
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/73992129 Mum-khopoli-mum- march 20
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/73176276 Mumbai-khandala-march 13
AT THE FINISH LINE
WITH PRASHANT AND JAIDEEP AT THE FINISH