Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bangalore - Belgaum - Bangalore 1000KM brevet - Part 1

PreRide Stories...

BRM 1000 (Bangalore - Belgaum - Bangalore) was always a dream for me, starting from the day I knew about Master Brevet series. I was mad enough to register for 1000K ride last year, with only one brevet (KGF - 300) completion as the history. Somehow I had to change my mind and I went for (Bangalore - Ranebennur - Bangalore) 600K BRM and managed to complete it.

I planned too much for the BRM from the year start but couldn't execute or follow much. I found sleepiness as a problem in Spirited 600 brevet. Yeah, I am the guy who slept on the bike while riding, hit the divider between highway lane and service lane, and fell down. And I didn't take any step to overcome the problem. More than that, no ride after mid april, which crossed 200 km. All I could do was, three rides in june.  Every weekend I rode 180+ kms, including some nice climbs.

When I was discussing with Sreepathi about 1000K BRM, I said to him, "I am planning to ride it with my MTB with knobbies. A finish can improve my confidence for tougher 1200+ rides like PBP". He said, "Instead, you ride with slick tyres and finish in less time. That will boost your confidence more". Being lazy, I didn't undergo all the importing process to get Schwalbe Kojaks, but changed my tyres to Schwalbe Road Cruiser semislicks (26x1.75) after the stock front knobbie went bad. And I changed the drive train, after putting a nice 8500 kms on the old one. All these, a day before the brevet, and I didn't have a test ride. I directly took it to brevet.

On the D-day, I started from home around 1510 hrs, with 8 kms to reach the starting control. A quick check before getting out of home -> Pump, 3 Extra Tubes, Patch kit, Multitool, Rain Poncho, Lights, Extra Batteries, Reflective Vest -> All taken. Kalpesh will bring Gatorade and I had to buy 2 bottles of water.

The Hosur road was full of traffic. I met 2 other 1000K riders, and Chiddu and Parag. We slowly crawled through and spotted a red monster, a Lamborghini. Was happy to overtake it through the traffic ;-). I was thinking about that and missed following Chiddu. A confusion about the starting point and search for 1 litre water bottles, made a delay of 10 min after 1600 hrs to reach, by the time most of the riders had left.

Met Sreepathi, Nirmal, Nayan, Anil, Chiddu, Arvind, Parag and Manjula there. Got formalities done faster, and had my share of suggestion, "Try to reach Hubli and Belgaum in time". This reminded Mustafa's suggestions, "1) Ranebennur - Hubli is the worst section with heavy winds and uphills. 2) Spend more time on saddle and spend time off saddle wisely". Had a word with all of them, and waved bye to them, to start the longest ride of my life.


I saddled up around 1620 hrs and just got on the road, the rain started. Wow, what a way to start the ride!! But the sudden purge of happiness immediately dampened, realizing that I was still inside the city. And the first miss - I missed the Queen's road and entered the park. Realized that after 200 metres, I came back and got into Queen's road. It was still pouring and suddenly I remembered keeping the phone  without any protection. I took it and checked but by the time, rain had done its job to damage it enough. I remember phone numbers of my mom and dad, and Kalpesh's number(but his phone also got damaged in rain, so finally all the numbers I had are my parents' and Chiddu's from Cuesheet). 

I slowly crawled through city traffic and stagnated rainwater on the roads, feeling the dirty water spilled all over me right at the start. After reaching the Tumkur road, I suddenly thought and changed my plans. "No way I can borrow time from future. Only way I can have comfortable time to handle worst sections is, save the time before encountering them". 

I took the elevated highway and started speeding up. My speedometer, recovered from sunlight syndrome, thanks to rain, and started showing mph readings. "Crap", I thought, and left it not calibrated. At the end of elevated highway, I caught up with Kalpesh, and then Sandeep. Had chats with them and moved on. 

Sometime later, I joined Rajanikanth. By the time, the rain again started, this time making socks soaked. We stopped at a shop where Rajani attended a phone call, and meanwhile, I had a maaza and bought water bottles. Then we started in rain. Somewhere here, a person in motorbike gave us goggles that he found on the road. Rajani said that it might be Deepak's one. I took it to return to Deepak but finally gave it back to Chiddu only after the brevet as I didn't see Deepak afterwards.

I continued, and crossed Sohan and Ashokji after small chats with them. I reached Kamat Sira around 2105 hrs. Had a full south Indian meals and dumped some biscuit packets in my front bar bag. When I was starting, I saw Aman and Vikramsinh reaching Kamat. Had a chat with them and that was the last chat with known people I had, till I reached Belgaum.

I remembered Kalpesh saying that he reached Chitradurga in his previous brevet by 0130 hrs around. Considering the winds, I set a target of 0230 hrs. I started by 2135 hrs. Light winds were there, and I had 2 - 3 stops in between to eat some biscuits and one stop at Guilalu tollbooth, where I refilled water. This time I felt Chitradurga climbs easier, with my concentration on windmills, and I made it to the control by 0124 hrs.

Just got out of the town, I started feeling hungry. I went to a truckers' Dhaba and had egg fried rice. Couldn't eat full, and I left half of the plate. Had a coffee, refilled water and biscuits, and started by 0210 hrs. The winds were a bit more intense, but not challenging. 

After some 25 kms, I started feeling sleepy. So I stopped for 5 minutes and had 2 teas. Resumed back, I crossed the Davanagere. Some kms after tollbooth, my frontlight went too dim. I changed batteries and continued to reach the Kamat Ranebennur by 0615 hrs.

Since I reached too early, only rava upma was available. I downed two plates of upma and a coffee. I leisurely started by 0650 hrs. I started feeling the difficulty right from there. It started with a nice slow ascent for 3 - 4 kms. The wind speed had increased. The sun was out and I started feeling heat in some time.

Backup biscuits were slowly getting over and the water levels were reducing in bottles. With the winds becoming crazier and day becoming hot, I started facing a new challenge. In this section, if you finish an ascent, from the top, you can see another 3 - 5 kms of road further, with a small descent and a loong ascent. And this pattern repeats. This challeged the already weak 'me' mentally. With one 10 min rest and some biscuit breaks, I reached Bankapur toll. 

No biscuits, one quarter bottle of water left, I started searching for a decent hotel. Around 1045 hrs, I found Rajasthan Dhaba, adjacent to a petrol pump, where I dumped 2 aloo parathas and 2 lassis. Powered by them, my mind first became fresh and started thinking. First thing I made clear was, 'Winds are crazier, Karthik. You can never win them. Better you be slow, allow it to attack you, take a toll on the time you saved, and win them'.

Second thing, actually a mimic of a tamil film comedy.
My mind said to me, "Only till Hubli you will suffer with head/cross winds at ascents"
I asked it, "Will it become normal after Hubli? Will the winds and ascents reduce?".
It replied, "No, you will get used to it!!"

Eventhough the winds were still severe with the terrain rolling, I found new energy in myself and felt I was going fast after the food break. Slowly I crossed Kamat Hubli which was some 10+ kms before Hubli. I reached Hubli and I was welcomed by a very mild drizzle.

In Hubli happened my second missing. In the moving traffic which was moving me also, I couldn't find out the Hotel Tirumala. I went further 2 kms, cameback, found one SBI ATM, and asked security there, "Where is hotel Tirumala?". He showed somewhere nearby and said, "there it is..". Icouldn't find it there. Then I asked, "Is this the only SBI ATM here?" He replied yes. I took a slip there which showed some 1345 hrs around. I cameback in Rani Chennamma circle road, asked localites way to Gokul road, reached it. I saw more than one SBI ATMs in this road itself. That guy ditched me. I rode through and crossed Airport entry, and stopped at a small shop for rest and lunch. I had a plate of Poha and refilled biscuit stock. When I tried to sleep, the people around started disturbing my bike and so I had to keep an eye on that.

A coffee after water refilling pushed me on the road after sometime. When I joined the bypass after some kms, I found it was two laned and still more traffic. Two ascents I crossed, I felt like taking a nap. I got off saddle, sat down, closed my eyes and it started drizzling. My nap screwed, I got back on the saddle and in minutes, a sudden heavy downpour. Again got wet completely, including the socks. Anyhow I was fresh.

The two laned roads ended a bit before a tollbooth near the Dharwad road. Here on, the winds became less severe but there were bigger ascents and descents - highly rolling. They looked like a row of hill series. Always I could see 3 - 4 series. Every hill series I cross, one more will become visible at the horizon.

Again, the stock biscuits and water were over some 10 km before Hirebagewadi Toll. Two more kms I managed to reach a village where I downed two double omlettes, 4 cookies and two teas. I refilled water and started around 1830 hrs.

Here one more shock to me. After those 3 - 4 hill series, there started a bigger hill series appearing. Its height compared to the series in front appeared too big. I started praying for that hill series to be present after Belgaum. But my fate, it was the last series, before Belgaum. And the road didn't have any hairpin bends to climb on that. Almost straight road, visible from around 5 kms before, directly passed and crossed it. Slowly crawled through that, crossed it and finally made it to Belgaum.

There happened next route miss. Cuesheet said, take Belgaum exit. I happily rode to the other end of the Belgaum, took the exit at Pune side and searched for Sankalp Residency. 20 minutes wastage there, and found out there is no Sankalp Residency, but Sankam Residency is there and it matches with the cue - there is an IOC petrol pump available nearby and both are there at Bangalore side exit. Curse my badluck, came all the way, found the ATM. My luck again,  it was not recognizing any of my cards. Rode to the backup ATM, and that worked fortunately.

The time was 2140 hrs around, the slip showed. Well, I took around 8 hrs for last 100 kms. It is ok, I crossed all the difficult sections. The return ride should be easy, I thought, provided no mechanical issues. I went to take dinner in nearby restaurant, had a full south Indian meals, meanwhile I borrowed phone from the manager there, called Chiddu and informed my reach. The wet socks presented me with the starting stage of minor blisters, but my mind never cared.

Got bored of above report? I guess you should be. Because I myself felt boring while riding as I was riding alone and felt more boring while writing. A company would have meant some interesting conversation to write about. Throughout the ride, all I did was the following repeated action. 
     refill water and biscuits, 
     consume the stock, 
     ride till they get over
while(not reached Belgaum?)

Why to bore more with return ride also now... Have a break...


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