Posts Tagged ‘Pala Tail’

A 200KM ride via Pala

January 23, 2018

On 21st January 2018, I completed my longest ride till date. It spanned 209 KM and I completed the endurance ride in 12 Hours 42 Minutes.

I am a Randonneur.

It’s a title given to those who complete the 200 KM challenge within 13.5 hours. You can read more about Randonnneuring here.

The Preparation

I always had BRM in my mind from 2010-11.  At a time when I was delivering the library books to different parts of the city on a bike. I knew deep down I could do long distance endurance rides. In December 2016, the dreams started taking shape as my mother gifted me a bike, a sleek looking Montra Blues 1.1. I had gone to Bike Tales with the intention of a buying a Montra Trance Pro. After talking to me Manoj recommended me to buy the next level hybrid. Today I am so happy to have made the upgrade.  (Click here to read more)

Before the ride, I was able to bike 50 KM+ on a consistent basis during the Christmas week. I took special permission from work to log in at 10:00 AM. Thanks to the wonderful team back in EY for granting my request. During the weekends I clocked 60 KM+ twice. The longest ride before the one on Sunday was 66 KM. The ride to the beach and the breakfast was really good.

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Ride to Kuzhupilly Beach

BRM in Kochi

BRM in Kochi is organized by Cochin Bikers Club, one of the clubs registered with Audax India. They have been forerunners in promoting professional cycling in Kochi and Kerala. They have supported many riders over the years. I have been visiting their store since they were operating out of Palarivattom near BSNL office. The price range of the bike was always above my budget, however, my interest in cycling was always encouraged by the patrons.  A week before the ride Murugan chettan was happy to service the bike I bought from Bike Tales; it’s hard to get his time as he is always busy with bike repairs. A true lover of a bike can relate to this easily. His dedication towards getting the bike fit for a rider is commendable.

The Ride

I was a bit nervous a week before the ride as I had never done anything above 66 KM. I talked to many riders who had done BRM previously and all of them said in one voice. It’s all on your mind. If you can do 50 KM, anyone can finish 200 KM within the stipulated time. A day before the ride, I got my bike chain and gears well-oiled at Bike Tales. The previous day when I had taken my bike to Manoj, he was very concerned about it. Thanks to him, the oiling proved very good during the ride. I was then with my Tripping Gang enjoying lunch at Vellakanthari, followed by the movie Carbon. I reached home and slept by 09:00 PM.

Tripping Gang
Tripping Gang

As always I woke up before the alarm. The funny part is a dream kept waking me up. I saw the same dream twice. It went like this, I look at the clock, it’s already 07:00 AM and no one at home or my fellow riders bothered to wake me up.  Sigh. I was crying.

I reached the starting point at 04:45 AM. Julian and Arun had already reached there before me. We got our Brevet cards stamped. We started our rides at 05:10 AM. Julian and I decided to stick together as Arun was on a road bike. Julian was on an MTB and we had done an airport ride two days back along with Hari and we figured out we ride pretty much at the same pace.  Hari gave us much-required tips for BRM. He is a Super Randonneur, a title given to those who complete 200,300,400 and 600 KM in a single season.

Our first stop was at Edapally church. See I do go to church. All I wanted to pray was to get all the riders back on time.

The next time we saw Arun was he coming back from Pala, the 100 KM mark. He was an hour and 20 KM ahead of us. That’s when I decided I have to get an endurance road bike.

Julian and I covered the Thodupuzha checkpoint within the time span we had given us ourselves. From Thodupuzha to Pala was the most challenging road. The road is brilliant, you will read it soon. The elevation is tough. The starting elevation was at 69 meters and ending at 146 meters and a total distance of 2 KMS. It never felt like ending.

Elevation Chart
Check out from 80KM to 100 KM mark

I challenged myself to ride all the way up. I did that; I saw many walking with their bikes. Maybe I should have done that too. Julian and I spent the next 10 minutes dehydrating ourselves to a good soda (ഉപ്പു സോഡാ). We then reached Pala on time. Julain needed some rest. I pestered him to start as we were the last set of riders. He did exactly as I wanted too. We were doing 50+ KM/Hour on the decline. Oh, my God, that was intense. We were overtaking motorbikes and cars with ease. Towards the 145 KM mark, we were exhausted. Our speed went down drastically; we started taking more breaks than we thought. We hadn’t had our breakfast or lunch. It was all bananas and plantains which kept us abreast. However, the effect was fading away. I couldn’t take it. I said to Julain, I need to eat something. We saw a Saravana Bhavan. The bike came to a halt automatically. We got rid of our helmets and went straight to the restaurant. I ordered ghee dosa and a coffee. It felt good.  The next 30 KM we covered it in 1 hour 15 minutes. We raced past many riders. This was the only checkpoint we were behind our planned schedule and of course the last checkpoint by 12 minutes. It was a leisure ride from CIAL to Stadium; we stopped over for a photo.

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When we reached Aluva, it was all about covering one metro station a time. Initially, it was breaking down 200 KM by checkpoints then to 20 KMS per stretch and then down to metro stations. A strategy used in cricket while chasing down targets.  It worked. We were so happy to reach Stadium. We had conquered the Pala Tial.

The Team

Job, Arun, Julian and I

The Road

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Route map and our stats.

I have to give to the Government of Kerala, except for 6 KM stretch in the entire 200 KM, everything was a proper tarmac suited for road bikes.  The Thodupuzha –Pala route is a dream for any biker. Built to international standards, it can beat any developed country. Here’s a video.

The Vehicles and the Pedestrians

Kochi was very accommodative of us, I think there’s a shift in the change in mindset with the drivers and pedestrians, they were concerned about us, although a small incident resulted in a biker pulling out before the first checkpoint. After Muvatupuzha, I don’t think the people are used to bikes without a motor. They would carelessly cross the road. I did brush past a lady who was looking at the wrong side of the road while crossing. There were at least 5-7 instances of cars and bike overtaking us and taking a left. Oh, I hate them. It just kills all our efforts while pedaling.

Some idiots wouldn’t even care to switch on the bloody indicators. Julian and I almost banged on a tempo traveler which seemed like taking a right and then suddenly severed towards left. Let me not remember it again. All we could do was to give him a nasty snare.

The Secret

Visualization works, a week before the ride. I had jotted down on the route card the timings to reach all checkpoints. I couldn’t scan it, so here’s an excel screenshot.

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There were no authorized checkpoints between Pala and CIAL, so I had to create one to take rest, which I did. Ufff,  that was the toughest part of the ride.

Here’s a paper clipping about the ride.

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Courtesy Manorama, Date 22nd January 2018

BRM 200 is just a start of a long journey.

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