Friday, August 3, 2012

(Nearly) Challakere 400 – Tons of experience with a failure.

Having ridden Bangalore - Ranebennur - Bangalore 600 brevet and made a trip to Devarayanadurga, when I saw the route map of Challakere 400 Brevet before the event, I found that I was already familiar with 300+ kms. Also, since I was riding regularly alternative saturdays the last few months, I was quite confident in completing the ride (successfully). But not always the things happen in the way we expect. Here is the experience on such a ride.

Kalpesh and I started riding together from the new BHEL road starting control by 0605 hrs, after getting our brevet cards stamped and wished good luck, by Mustafa and Nirmal. Soon, Mr. Ashok joined us, and we three made our move fast through roads to Hessarghatta. One thing to note about Mr. Ashok, his age is 45+ and he rode 350+ km in this ride, that too, well within the time limits allowed for most part of the ride. A salute to him.

We were stopped by Abhijit and Hari who were manning a secret control, when we hit Hessarghatta main road. I wasn’t surprised of the secret control as I expected one, after reading the reports from riders of Jan 2012 version of this brevet.

We resumed riding after having some biscuits offered by them. We soon crossed Hessarghatta lake, Madhure, and reached Dodbelavangala around 0845 hrs where we stopped for breakfast of a plate of idly and some rice, with bonda.
After breakfast, we continued through Doddaballapur Highway towards Dabbaspete. This stretch of 20 km, was highly rolling, with headwinds. We rode with Rafi and group in this stretch. After Dabbaspete, Kalpesh and I slowed down where Rafi and group raced up and slowly zoomed out. In this section, when I hit a pit, the back light got broken and fell down. I had to ride then without the rear red light.

The roads were a bit patchy here, after Uradigere. We soon reached next control at Koratagere with an hour to spare. On seeing the distance to Madhugiri as 18 km, we decided to continue and take a lunch break at Madhugiri.

With a tender coconut break and ride through a section of fully patchy roads, we reached Madhugiri an hour later. We weren’t hungry then, to have lunch. We thought of continuing till Sira but then decided to have atleast some snacks in Madhugiri, as Sira was 40 km away and it was noon. This decision really helped, when we were on the stretch to Sira. We stopped at a bakery and had some nice sandwiches and cakes with Fanta. The shopkeeper said that there were a group of cyclists who stopped there like us, before half an hour. Yeah, Rafi and others it was obvious, and they should be going some 10 km ahead of us then.

Hell started from there, in the form of completely bad and non-existent roads. Most part of this section, till Sira was dug out for laying newly and we slowly crawled through, afraid of sharp stones and objects. In between, very light showers of rain tried to make us cool. After some 30 km from Madhugiri, when I was thinking only 10 more km to spare, disaster started. Yeah, I found it getting hard to pedal. I checked and found air in rear wheel reduced. I just thought, air reduced because we were riding in some hard, bumpy non-existent roads and was confident that nothing happened to tyre. So, we just stopped, filled air and continued. When it was around some 6 kms to Sira, somewhat good road started, along with heavy rain. Kalpesh insisted to stop and wear rain gears, but I wanted to continue and so did till Sira as I found again hard to ride. We became completely wet soon.

Bad stretch of road, to Sira - 40 km (Photo Credits : Nayan)
In Sira, Kalpesh decided to take a break so that we could take rest, avoid rain some time and have food. I decided not to waste time on eating, and tried to replace tube. I carefully checked tyre for intruders and tube for holes, but couldn’t find any. I checked the valve condition as well but no hope. Then I found that, since the tyre and tube were wet, I was unable to change tube in the dry area in front of shop, where the soil particles stuck on tyre inner area and new tube. So I did the whole tube changing process in rain, which I think may be the reason for next tube failure. We immediately started riding after this.

After some 10 km from Sira, I got tired. So I decided to take a break in a Dhaba for late lunch. Kalpesh also joined me though I insisted him to continue. We found Shreeju in the Dhaba, and he was ready to start after a break. Kalpesh joined him to continue,  after 10 mins of break and when they were about to start, Shreeju asked me to inform Nayan, the other MTBer who was riding a bit behind, that Shreeju was riding about half an hour ahead of me. I then started about 20 minutes later, after having a plate of egg-fried rice, towards Hiriyur. I span hard to save some time for next flat, if any.

Some 10 km before Hiriyur, I found that once again the tube was failing. Air was less but not completely out.  Since it was getting dark, I decided to check the tyre there itself. Again, tyre was clean, tube had no notable leak, and time was ticking. So, I decided to put the next of 2 more extra tubes I had. While doing that, Nayan reached. I informed Nayan about Shreeju. Then Nayan helped me in putting the things right and we soon started. We rode fast and reached Hiriyur by 1915 hrs.

In Hiriyur, I checked the air, it was ok. I couldn’t find whether it really had reduced and didn’t want to waste time on that. It got darker and we switched our headlights on. 13 more km and around 70 min to go, I found again difficult to spin. This time, no stopping, searching or whatever as I didn’t have camera to take good pictures in the photo controls in dark condition and Nayan had. I kept up with Nayan though slowed him towards the end, and we reached the first photo control by 2010 hrs.

At photo control 1 - fed up with tyre and dejected
(Photo Credits : Nayan)
After taking necessary photos, I checked the air, the tyre was almost flat. I thought for a moment to quit, but decided to continue atleast upto the next photo control which was 13 km away. I pumped air, and we started riding without delaying. Anyhow, air reduced faster this time. I tried to push hard without air and somehow managed to reach the next control at Aymangala by 2110 hrs. 

At Aymangala photo control - Too tired coz of riding with almost flat tyre, and even more dejected
(Photo Credits : Nayan)
We found Kalpesh waiting there. We came to know that, Kalpesh had difficulty in eating, and threw up once when he tried to eat a banana. He decided to quit. On seeing his condition and my problems, I also decided to quit, and had a chat with Nayan. Nayan tried to motivate us to continue till next control at Hiriyur which was 22 km away and then decide as there is no need to hurry after that, as the final control, the only left control, is 150 km away from Hiriyur and we would be having 10 hrs to go, had we reached Hiriyur control in time.

Kalpesh here offered me his bike and insisted me to continue and finish the brevet. But I didn’t want to leave sick Kalpesh with my sick bike as it would be difficult for him to manage. Also, whatever I do, I wanted it to be with my Rockrider.  Seeing the people heartily wishing me to continue, I decided not to give up till the state when I couldn’t really do anything. Bid a bye to Nayan wishing him to reach next control in time, I took out my last spare tube to replace the sick tube with it. When I removed the tube from tyre, I found that, rim tape was torn. So, this could be the reason for continuous failure. I got an insulation tape from the shopkeeper there and pasted the ends of torn rim tape together with two layers of it. I then replaced tube. Kalpesh helped me put the things together. Meanwhile, Mr. Ashok made it to the photo control just in time and continued to ride further. I saw the time, it was 2205 hrs.

Alright, I had to ride 22 kms in 55 minutes. I asked Kalpesh to look for and take with him anything I left there, asked him to ride atleast till Hiriyur, prepared my mind for yet another crazy push, and started riding. A nice highway, with very light winds, I rushed like anything. I noticed Mr. Ashok walking with his bike near Guilalu tollbooth. Waved a bye to him, and I raced ahead. After some furious minutes, I reached the SBI ATM control in Hiriyur, I took out my mobile and saw the time, it was 2246 hrs, well within the time. I then tried to take out my wallet for ATM card to get a time slip. Ah… the next shock, I couldn’t find the wallet. I searched bag and couldn’t find in that as well. I suddenly was sweating as I was helpless there though I made it in time.

I then called Kalpesh and asked him to look for my wallet in previous control, but he had already left.  When I was standing in the ATM cabin helpless, Nayan reached there. I was surprised to see him there. He said, he wasted time in getting the right way into Hiriyur. Having a company, I was boosted a bit. I called and informed Mustafa about loosing the wallet and took a time slip from Nayan’s ATM card, and had a photo in Nayan’s camera with time stamp as a proof for my being there in time.

A loser, lost his wallet, angry on himself and awaiting further more shocks
 (Photo Credits : Nayan)
I checked the air in my tyre, and it was full. I was damn happy, and we went to a nearest hotel for a late dinner. We had then 10 hrs to finish 155 km, which I had previously done with 7 hrs 30 mins of riding, excluding 3 big breaks. We were eating with mind relaxed and soon Kalpesh joined us. I found out that he haven’t noticed my wallet there in Aymangala. It is lost. I then checked my bag for other things I missed in previous control in hurry. Well, my pair of gloves were also missing. I was not feeling sad much then  for missing as I still could ride and make it to final control and complete the ride bagging a load of experience.

After dinner, I came out to check air. The tyre was completely flat and rim tape again torn and came out of tyre. I was shocked seeing that. Just sometime before, it was healthy. Now nothing I could do. No spare rim tape. No spare tubes. No way to find a hole in any tube to patch and continue ride. All left with me were, confidence to ride, energy and willingness to ride, and time more than what I need to complete it successfully. Kalpesh once again offered me his bike and forced me to continue, but I was not ready to leave him with my sick bike. I informed Nayan that I quit, and called Mustafa as well to inform quitting.

Then things happened in relaxed manner. We took a room in a lodge there, had a nice sleep for 4 hours, went to Aymangala by early morning to search for and confirm that I idiotically lost my wallet and cloves, came back to Hiriyur, again rest for 3 hours, took a small tempo to return back till Nelamangala, a minidor from there till some 3 kms before Yeshwantpur, walked till institute from there, bla bla bla….

Yeah, this ride gave me loads of experience with a heavy blow on my dream of becoming super randonneur this season. Thanks to Mr. Ashok, Kalpesh and Nayan for making this ride quite eventful despite the problems we had. Nayan was motivating me at the times I really needed. I am happy to know Nayan finished the ride successfully with an MTB with stock tyres, at the same time, I feel sorry for Mr. Ashok as he had to quit because of a flat near Guilalu toll booth, later I came to know. Greatly inspired when I knew though he dropped, he rode till the end. I would have been more happy had Kalpesh also finished ride, but hats off to him, as all in a sudden he rode 255 kms without riding out for last four months (last long distance trip he did was to Muthathi by March 1, 2012, with Jitendra and myself). Also, Kalpesh offered his bike dropping his ride and asked me to continue, in the critical time. A true spirit of helping a friend in trouble and need.

I gave a thought on going to Delhi and doing 400 km in October end. I don't want to go that far just for a medal. Also, good thing is I can do every brevet again here with the same spirit as I will have to do them in next season to become super randonneur. Hope to become super randonneur along with Kalpesh.

Here is Nayan’s report on the Brevet.


  1. Awesome write up Karthik. And a great ride too.
    Great to know that you decided to do all the Brevets next season! Looking fwd to ride with you on my MTB :-)

    1. Thanx a lot Nayan.... Yeah... We'll do all the rides once again, especially, Tristate 600.... This year I planned to do that but unfortunately both the times I had to miss....