Ten Goans, between the age group of 25 to 60 years, recently rode off to Kanyakumari on their cycles to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris. Highly charged to take randonneuring to the next level, NT BUZZ gets you a few stories of the 1,200 kilometres ride
Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
As part of the ‘BRM1200’, a globally recognised endurance ride organised by the TriGoa Foundation, 10 Goan randonneurs cycled from Goa to Kanyakumari – a distance of 1,200 kilometres in the stipulated 90 hours (as per international rules of Audax Club Parisien). Having left Goa on January 24 they reached Kanyakumari in the wee hours of January 28.
This was the first ride attempted by Goan cyclists, the previous being a 600 kilometres Brevet de Randonneur Mondeaux (BRM) which they had completed as part of the Super Randonneur (SR) series. With the completion of this ride the 10 Goans have now qualified for the Paris-Brest-Paris race this year which has over 6000 riders from all over the world.
For the ten riders who have other full time professions- Glenn De Silva, Vishwajit Faldesai, Sukumar Shetty, Jaganath Hede, Vivek Ferrao, Ligorio Noronha, Kunaal Malhotra, Sunil Kumar Verma, Venu Reddy and Daegal Godinho, participating in the BRM1200 was not just about taking their passion of cycling to another level. It was also a learning experience of sorts for each of them, from getting to know the landscapes and meeting new people, to understanding each other and being there to help each other, of course with some masti here and there. They braved the weather too- from heat, headwinds and crosswinds to other challenges like language barrier, lack of sleep, highway hazards, punctures on the way- which they say was all part of the ride.
The cycles used in the BRM1200 that traversed Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were primarily road bikes, though one rider, Vivek, rode on a standard single-speed BSA Hercules cycle. While the riders are part of various Goan cycling clubs, for some it was their first major ride.
According to Malhotra, keeping time is essential in a BRM ride, because the riders need to accomplish the distance, taking support only from themselves and other co-riders. “The 90-hour time-limit includes water, food and short sleeping breaks. But despite the strain and stress, the riders came away with tons of experiences and memories along the way.”
He monitored the ride at various points and ensured relief to the riders at designated control points. For the ever growing cycling community in Goa, this event and the achievement has marked the rise and growth of randonneuring as a sport, and is one of the most popular ways for maintaining health and fitness.
Randonneuring as an endurance sport, has become increasingly popular in India and AIR (Audax India Randonneurs) – the official governing body for India, conducts BRMs across all states through affiliated clubs.
The youngest enthusiast
“We were able to pace ourselves well and we could get some rest at night as well which allowed us to ride better the next day. We got to see the changing landscape of India – where you started off with a lot of greenery, progressed from broad roads to narrow roads with a lot of hot winds.”
-Kunaal Malhotra, 25,
self employed, Panaji
The fastest and fittest
“I was an athlete in my younger days so it was not difficult. Besides, I have been maintaining my fitness and have been riding for quite some time. The equation with fellow cyclists was great. The roads in TN were great to ride on and while there were some winds that didn’t allow us to move fast, the tail winds made it enjoyable for close to three hours.”
-Glen D’Silva, 60, sales consultant, Godrej, Mumbai
New life on a 40 year-old cycle
“I decided to take up the challenge of riding the BSA cycle which was used by my wife’s grandfather. And since it is a cycle that the countrymen used, it made even more sense to me. Besides, I had used it for the other rides of 200 kilometres, 300 kilometres, 400 kilometres and two 600 kilometres rides, and reached the end point without failing. I didn’t fail here too. In fact the locals in Tamil Nadu were astonished seeing me ride it. I had two cornea transplants after losing my eyesight at the age of two, this new life has given me a lot and has taken me to several places. I never thought that I would have an opportunity to do this, but when can do all of this it is an absolute blessing.”
-Vivek Ferrao, 33, self employed, Panaji
The motivated orthopedic surgeon
“I am used to erratic work timings. The only major difference was to concentrate on the road which was quite difficult. But, these strong riders around really helped me. What started with a 20 kilometres ride, led to the formation of a club in Margao six years ago and now after completing this ride of 1200 kilometres, I am motivated to see more people join us.
– Viswajeet Phaldesai, 49, orthopedic surgeon, Margao
Juggling cycling and phone calls
“I kept getting phone calls for orders. But I had planned for the ride and managed to complete it within the time limit. We got to know each other better.”
– Lazarus Noronha, 38, food truck owner, Anjuna
Bearing pain for 1200 kilometres
“I started cycling over a year ago and within a couple of months I attended a 200 and 300 kilometres race. The confidence level built and after completing the SR series I had prepared enough for the 1200 kilometres ride. Jagarnath and Sukumar were good guides and I didn’t want to miss the chance of riding with them. You learn to bear pain while riding a cycle. The mid-day heat was bad, we had to wet our head, eat ice cream and drinki juice to cool down. The group was high on motivation.
-Daegal Godinho, 42, art gallery owner, Panaji/Majorda
On his longest ride
“I started with some stress and finished with a lot of joy. We had timed our ride well and thus had to cover up certain kilometres in a day. On the highway we couldn’t find water and decent restaurants, but we managed. This was the longest ride for me. We were blank at the start and didn’t know whether we would succeed or not, but we found great strength in each other and fostered friendship. Of course we were worried about mishaps at the back of our minds and would try to in groups of 2 and 3. The last 30 kms were the toughest.
-Sunil Verma, 37, builder/developer, Panaji
Executing a well made plan
“It is the first time that a group in Goa organised a 1200 kilometres ride that required a lot of planning. There were two crucial points we had to cross in time, Yellapur, and a forest area Mundgod where the road is closed for 12 hours, so we had to cover that distance of 60 kilometres to reach before the road was closed. The other tough part was getting past Bengaluru city through the traffic.”
-Jagganath Hede, 44, software consultant, Margao
Of team spirit and mind games
“Rajesh not only planned the ride for us everyday, he even planned the stops for us- which gave us ample amount of time to lie down and rest. BRM and endurance riding is about how strong your mind actually is. Some of us were doing these rides with slight injuries we had suffered previously, so we were not 100 per cent fit, but we prepared ourselves mentally to complete the ride and with teammate like these, you can’t give up.
-Sukumar Shetty, 48, Business, Panaji
Failed once, but took on the challenge
“It was the first time that I went cycling for 1200 kilometres. I have been cycling for the last three years and initially failed in a 200 kilometres ride. I took up the challenge and completed it in October and went on to complete other rides. Yoga helped me and I built confidence. Enjoying with friends and nature was the highlight besides meeting the targets of reaching the control points on time. I also had tremendous family support.”
-Venuvardhan Reddy, 47, business, Margao