In Cycling

When I heard of the 100 Kilometers ride that a few Bike-Hashers were doing, I enthusiastically signed up. It was also a ride I was looking forward in trepidation. The last time I did the Chennai-Pondicherry ride, it was a day of excruciating pain (predominantly in the area where the sun doesn’t shine! :).

I have an old BSA road bike. No gears. No gel seats. No cushioned bike shorts. Result: A very sore and very painful arse.

Would I want to go through the agony again? The spirit of riding over-ruled the fear of pain. What follows is a quick short account of the ride this morning.

I woke up at 3:30 AM, packed my bag with Snickers bars, bananas and a water bottle. My Dad helped transport me and the bike to Srinath Rajam’s home at Boat Club area. Srinath is the MD and CEO of TVS’ Automotive group.

On the way, we saw something terrible. Two men lying dead in the middle of the road near Kodambakkam. The accident must have happened just a few minutes before we were there. One of them was a motor-cyclist who must’ve crashed into the cyclist. With no traffic in early mornings, people generally over speed. A crowd had already gathered and calls were made to the police and the ambulance.

My Dad kept his feelings to himself. A cyclist lays dead on the road and he is on his way to drop his son for a cycling trip!

With nothing much to help excepting to add to the growing crowd, we moved on.

I had a lump in my throat. For me, it was a rude reminder of how dangerous cycling can be. The only thing that made me carry on with the trip was that a vehicle had been arranged to follow us to offer protection.

At 4:20 am, we reached Srinath’s home where we piled up our cycles onto a special holder at the back of his SUV. Being at the Boat Club area reminded me of the many years of training at the Madras Boat Club. Those fond memories over-rode the ghastly incident of the morning.

We prefer to start the ride from outside the city to avoid traffic. So, the idea is to drive the city section and start off from the ‘Dollar Store’ in the outskirts.

On the way, we picked up Ian May, an expat and an absolute power horse of a rider. He’ll kick the arse of kids half his age.

At exactly 5:00 AM, we started our trip. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t done my bit of warm up and stretches. Managed a minute’s stretch but clearly not enough.

The idea was to ride till Mahabalipuram (around 40 kms), then proceed beyond Kalpakkam (30 kms) and ride back to Ideal Beach Resort (30 kms). So, overall, the target was to finish 100 kms. We had fixed the speed at 25 KM per hour. Cycling at that speed for long distance can be quite an effort, especially if one isn’t used to it. I was able to keep up with the gang for the first 26 kms before the pain on my arse started to slow me down.

The other two took off while I laboured for another 20 kms. Both Ian and Srinath went by the usual plan and I joined them up on their return loop. Srinath wanted to complete the full 100 but both of us had meetings and we had to be back in the city before 10 AM. So, he cut short his trip at the 85th km. He has broken his previous record of 80kms and wants to finish the full 100 during the next few rides. Have to admire his persistence and endurance.

We then piled up our cycles on the back of his SUV and before starting our journey back, took a snap together for memory’s sake.

Personally for me, its been a disappointment having only completed 46 kms. While part of the blame would be on my non-geared cycle, the real reason would be my fitness. I’m getting back to the grind after a lengthy period of dormancy and clearly got quite a bit of catching up to do.

Both Srinath and Ian didn’t mince words asking me to dump my cycle and get a good bike. That’s on my next ‘must-buy’ list. So are the bike shorts with cushion and a good gel seat. I’m on a clear mission to save my arse.