16 Apr 2013

Hazaron khwahishain aisi ~ post by Manas Arvind

Hazaron khwahishain aisi...(Thousands of such desires) 
From the 1000K, Team T3 Brevet - 22-25th March, 2013

Enroute to Sikri @235 km-Day1-@6 pm
67th HrThe Metamorphosis. The legs couldn't stop pushing the pedals, even if they wanted to…their sole purpose of existence seemingly to just keep moving on. It was 2 AM and Gurgaon was almost a 100 km away. That meant 90% of the journey was over and I had been on the road for close to 3 days cycling the highways and country roads; climbing small hills; fighting sleep and gushing adrenaline all at the same time. The pain and patience thresholds had been redefined. What was hurting yesterday, felt nothing today. The clock would often melt like a Dali painting…was I hallucinating? I did see the Red Fort on my left and the Metro crossing overhead. The white road divider was taking different shapes of snakes, smoke and spirits.
I told Ashwani Attrish, “Let’s stop” and we halted at a dhaba for a quick break. I ordered a cola and tea at the same time, one for a sugar kick and the other for warmth. As I took turns drinking them, Ashwani walked briskly from one end to the other to fight the cold and keep awake…whatever worked. Just a while earlier, we had been talking about everything mundane, and when we had gone quiet, all you could hear were the sound of the pedals and the squeaking of my wheel. Then a police jeep drove up and halted next to us and the cops asked us to stop immediately from going any further. It seems that we were entering the Mewat region, notorious for crime and its export of top of the line criminals, while their lesser known brethren stayed behind to make a livelihood from local activities. Upon our insistence on going ahead, they decided it would be better for them if they weren't seen with us and drove off into the night. Now, all we could hope for was the hoodlums would not take our riding through the area as a breach of their terror-itory.
Meanwhile, the questions kept on coming…where were the five of the seven riders besides the two of us? Had someone already reached? Was everyone safe? Had someone dropped out? Where were Satish, Sapeksh, Mann, Rakesh? Would Karthik make it in time, as he was riding somewhere behind us?

14th Feb 2013 - I was limping back to cycling after a hiatus of 45 days. It was a severe knee ligament inflammation caused due to an excessively mindless run of 21 km. My last long ride had been the 500 km at the Desert 500. My only aim now was to be able to walk straight and cycle again, nothing more. Or so I thought… ideas have claws but dreams have wings and by the evening, I was dreaming of riding the 1000 km Brevet scheduled for the 8th of March. How, I didn't know, as every time I went out riding, the knee would complain. Another day and time, I might not have bothered about any of it, but this was very different. I was sceptical and scared, full of self doubt. I would avoid mentioning the knee pain at home, as it would only flare tempers and the ire of my wife, Ritu, and my 9 year old daughter. There were a few days remaining and I felt weak in my knees (quite literally). I would bitch, post and tweet nonstop about the knee. I needed a plan and I would have to go solo as I was too slow to ride with anyone and anyway, I was not sure who from my riding buddies would be at the event. I was adamant, and just a week before the ride, Ritu decided to join me and started supporting me wholeheartedly. I know that she hardly slept through the entire Brevet while I rode.
The Plan - I entered with three clear objectives.
First was knowing that I wouldn’t be building any new muscles in the given time, my task was to not damage the knee any further. I focused on power vs cadence balance to get an acceptable speed without stressing the knee. I had to forget about 'stepping on it' entirely.
Second was to be able to shed as much weight as possible. I was 83 kg when I started and with some changes in my eating pattern, I managed to lose 4 kg before the Brevet.
Third, there was little I could do to my legs, so I shifted to strengthening the core, shoulder and back muscles which helped during the ride to hold better. I finished riding the 1000 with no particularly aching body part, if you leave aside the sore butt.

14th Hr - Queen uncertainty. It was one of the flyovers short of Mathura. Sapeksh and I were pace-lining perfectly. I gained some momentum on the downhill and sped ahead. My meter was not working, but I knew I was fast. My mind was constantly calculating, how much in how much time... how to beat the heat, how to skip traffic, etc. till a hard thud broke my concentration. I had an impact flat, and there was no one behind me. The impact not only damaged the tyre, as I later realised, it also damaged the wheel for good. With a good 800 km still to go, the only way was to simply forget about the damage and pray that it wouldn’t get worse.
 20th Hr - The light and the dark side. We reached Bamanpur in good time. With one third of the ride already over, an hour of sleep looked like a good incentive, except there seemed to be no place to sleep. What were we expecting, warm beds with covers? We pedalled on and were lucky to find one trucker dhaba on the opposite side with some rickety cots. This was going to be the scenario for the next 2 days and nights. Trucker dhabas, though very basic, would serve quick chai and have cots to lie down. Anything more felt like a decadent luxury. The only thing that could have been wished away were the blaring TV sets, but they would have been a problem on another day, right now they hardly mattered. The weather during the day was a killer with the meter showing 39-40 degrees, and there was no choice but to ride through the day. I would stop every hour just to cool the body down with water and seek some shade as it made little sense in letting the engine run out of coolant.
54th Hr - What's there to eat? I guess that all scales change in such rides. An estimated 20 litres of water was consumed per day, which I knew was still less. I increased it close to 30 ltr on the last day and it was a life saver. At the same time, there’s nothing like a proper meal and I would eat and drink a little bit continuously. Gatorade, bars, nuts, chips, chocolates, chapatis, dal, boiled eggs, chai, coffee, defizzed cold drinks, et all comprised the menu.
46th Hr - Give it as it comes!  It was the second morning and the mind knew that the body was being abused badly. The entire day was up ahead and we didn’t seem to be in a hurry. We saw the resort, Highway King and looked at each other, time to take a break for a fork and knife breakfast. They had super clean washrooms and we made full use of that luxury. There was no hurry as we sat down to enjoy some awesome omelettes and toasts with coffee. I think there were newspapers too. Later that evening at another stop, we stopped to enjoy a hearty conversation about cardamom coffee and its recipe with the local chef. The mind had taken a turn...the same mind which had been egging me to rush through and break some personal time records, was now at complete ease. I could feel the breeze, look around at the scenery, converse with people, sip on the tea with ease, smoke and spit. The mind was calm, it knew that the job will be done.
72nd Hr - Gone with the wind. You can never know what all a Brevet has in store for you. The destination was 50 km away and I was in my home territory. Suddenly, there came a storm with heavy cross winds. I didn't know which way to look, the only way to move forward was to stand and hammer. By this time, the butt was all sore and bruised. I started counting the bumps, then the trucks, tried the cows and goats, the strokes and back strokes...these were the longest miles and the shortest hours, and the most fun and exhilarating moments of the 1000 km journey. In fact I felt a bit sad that it was all coming to an end. I messaged Ritu that I would be home by 0830. 
The target did the trick. I was near Lemon Tree hotel and there still were 3 minutes to spare. I slowed down, left the handle bar and stretched my arms above my head. I thought about all my co riders, marshals, dhabawalas and the cardamom coffee. I thought of Karthik, hoping he was somewhere nearby and would finish the ride within time...which he did with 20 min to spare. It was a 75 hr Gatorade drenched, chocolate coloured, nicotine stained, mile-crunching 1000 km Brevet. There is a lot to take away from such an event...and I don't think I'm in any hurry.

-------The Brass Tacks------
What is a Brevet? A long distance self supported ride, where the rider is supposed to live off the road. It gives one an opportunity to interact with locals, eat different kinds of food, sleep on a variety of beds (or no beds). Its time bound, but relaxed enough to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. The official Brevets can come in the distances of 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 and 1200 km.
Preparing for a 1000 km Brevet. It’s strongly advised to have done few of the longer distance brevets with overnight hauls. It’s also important to be in complete sync with your bike and gear. A properly fitted and working bike would make the experience enjoyable. It’s also critical to be able to carry out basic bike repair like fixing flats and cut tires, broken chain and drive train adjustments.
On the Bike. I added a handlebar bag (for food reserves), top tube bag (to quickly draw bars and put back), a saddle bag (with 2 new tubes, toolkit and backup money) and 2 bottle cages (one for sports drink mix and another for plain water). The back pocket had a waterproof wallet and phone.
In the bag on the Marshal vehicle - Sleeping bag (just in case I met them in the night), change of clothes, more food supplies, spare tyre and more tubes.

Pre ride. Few days prior to the ride, accumulate sleep hours, hydrate well and ensure your body is in a fit condition. With a troubling knee, I had to train my mind and body to not cross the trauma threshold. Each one to his own style, but for me a meditative state of mind worked better than getting aggressive and competitive. Knowing that I am neither high on adrenaline, nor on physique, I had to think differently. In the few training rides prior to the Brevet, I worked on changing my riding style from aggressive to very conservative.

The Ride
Day 1 (covered 405 km) - Rode with Sapeksh and met Rakesh many a times enroute. The day was hot but constant hydrating and resting saved us from any complication. We utilised the mornings and late hours rather well and crossed Hodal (sugar cane juice), Vrindavan (Grapes), Mathura (3 egg burgers), Agra (first bottle of Thumbs up and a mad traffic jam), Sikri & Bharatpur (come and go), Sikandra (the lone dhaba to sleep) and Dausa (the lovely town) before crossing the 24 hr mark.
Day 2 (covered 250 km) - Reached Jaipur, after fixing my second flat, and bugged by a 55 km long soft yet constant gradient. Lost precious hrs in waiting at a time station confusion. Worse (but unavoidable) started at ~2:30 in the afternoon for Kishangarh (Aaloo Paratha at McDonalds, courtesy Rajat) and reached sharp at 20:00. Started back with Ashwani and rode all night with an hour of nap (at Duddu) and a nice B/F short of Jaipur.
Day 3 (covered 300 km) - Crossed Jaipur, with a super fast tunnel section and searing temperatures to reach Sikandra. The ride was hot but fast. We took a longish break at Sikandra and soon after at a dhaba, so as to let the heat ebb. We must have had at least 25 litres of water to keep dehydration away. The ride from here to Ajmer was on a lovely rolling terrain. We were joined by Karthik here and during this section, my left knee developed a sudden injury like pain. Now both the engines were misfiring with noises and swearing. With the last time station done at Alwar, the three of us stopped at a 5 star dhaba of a Mr Saini, who went out of his way and managed eggs and rice from the market. We napped here till 12, fought with Karthik’s tyre for another hour and left eventually, informing the Marshals, as we found it impossible to fix on our own. This was the 3rd overnight ride but the company made a lot of difference, making it more interesting and fun I guess.
Day 4 (covered 55 km in 3 hours) - It was the final frontier, but heavy unsporting winds just added to the push needed (loads of it). I finished the 1000 km Brevet at 0830 with 36 min to spare.

Post ride. It was nice that I finished the ride without any kind of pain or stiffness (except the sore butt). It took nearly a day to recover the sleep and another 2-3 days for the body to regain regular strength.. Both the knees did need tending to, which they deserved.The post ride diet was high on Proteins (loads of eggs and Chana etc), carbs+sugar (potato, rice, sweet fruits), with as many as 8 small meals in a day for the first 2-3 days. This helped in quicker recovery and avoiding prolonged post ride stress/shock based injuries.


  1. Very inspiring to read the account. Ben

  2. Fabulous Indeed... Sir you are a star...

  3. Fabulous Sir You are a Star...
    You are the Kareena Kapoor of Cycling ... er sorry got carried away... Amitabh Bachhan of Cycling...Cheers

    1. Thanks a lot Mahindra Xylo n u said it, Manas is absolutely a star : )

    2. Haha just read... Kareena Kapoor... LOL. Cheers!