Sunday, August 25, 2013

The impossible 170 km ride !

It was June 2012. Cycling had started becoming popular all of a sudden. I was seeing posts and articles in the media and the social networks very frequently on cycling and its benefits. Governments boasted about creating cycling lanes along schools and main roads. It had become a trend to be spotted with a flashy cycle with disc brakes, gears and what not! Suddenly everyone had taken to cycling.
The last time I cycled was during my 12th when I used to ride to school. Cycling was something that I never enjoyed during my school days. I always wanted to be on the fuel powered 2 wheelers than the self-powered ones. I remember creating havoc and throwing a tantrum when my mom told me that she wouldn’t buy me a 2 wheeler to go to tuitions. I hated the cycle!
But now after 7 years, the cycle had reentered my life. On seeing the cycling trend and the extra pounds that I had accrued after school, I started to think if it was the cycle that had kept me in shape during my school days. Now that I had shunned it, I lost the active lifestyle that came with it.
Not wanting to be left out of the trend and the fun that cyclists in my fraternity were having, I too sought to go for a ride. My first ride was to pulicat which is about 60 kms from Chennai. Having nearly died doing that, I wanted to go on the next ride. It was to Thirukazhukundram, a small town on the chengalpet – Mamallapuram road, about 75kms from Chennai.


 
All set for the ride, I rented an Adidas MTB from a cycle shop near my place and started by 3:30 from my home and reached Tidel park, our assembly point, at 4:00. After checking all our cycles for anything that might cause us to delay, we set off towards sholinganallur where we took a small tea break before taking the left towards the vandalur – kelambakkam road. We then took an off road from the vandalur-kelambakkam road via karanur, othivakkam to reach karumbakkam stopping once to have a sumptuous breakfast of idlis and vadas. It was almost noon and the sun was happily sucking out my energy like they show on the glucon D ads! We stopped at almost every juice shop we could spot and drank whatever we could. I had about 7 glasses of butter milk at a single shop, so I guess you can do the math.



The Team
Finally about 1:30 – 2:00 PM, we reached the temple town of thirukazhukundram where we waited for about half an hour for others to catch up before reaching the bus stand for lunch. Post lunch, few of them who had to reach Chennai before evening started off immediately and few of them who were too tired to continue took a bus back to Chennai. I wanted to take the bus back. I had lost my stamina and my will to continue had come down. It was Peter who asked me not to quit and continue. We then took a small nap in a patch of grass land outside the town and by about 3:30 we started back towards Chennai. 
The nap on the outskirts of thirukazhukundram
By now the sun started to go down and the conditions were starting to get better to cycle. The road that we took had enormous paddy fields on either side and it was just so beautiful that I was thankful for not having taken the bus back to Chennai. We then spotted a huge well and a pumpset which was irrigating the fields. We have the habit of jumping into water whenever possible and the moment we spotted the well, . We jumped into it and had a very refreshing bath which gave us the much need energy to continue on our way back to Chennai. 
Thats me diving into the well
After a couple of hours, few others in our group took a different route which took them directly to guduvancherry and the 7 of us cycled our way towards the OMR. 
The final 7 (7th guy is the one clicking)
We had to take a very deserted off road, through a forest to reach the vandalur-kelambakkam road before it got dark and thankfully all of us made it just in time. Cycling in the vandalur- kelambakkam road was again a pain without the street lights and most of us didn’t have lights fitted on our cycles. To add to it, one of my friend’s cycle got punctured and we had to fix it with light from our mobiles. We surely had to be crazy doing these stuff. By the time we reached sholinganallur, it was 10 PM. We stopped over at Nalas and gobbled up everything that we could. The GPS which we turned on at sholinganallur in the morning now read 140 kms. Having cycled 20 kms to reach sholinganallur, I had completed 160 and I still had another 15 to go before I could reach the comfort of my bed. The thought of having covered over 170 kms in a single day on cycle excited me beyond anything. It was something that I thought impossible. If not for peter’s encouragement, I wouldn’t have achieved this. That night I had a very satisfied and content sleep. The kind of sleep that you get when you have are happy and there is nothing to worry about. I had cycled over 170 kms in a single day. Surely, there could be no problem that couldn’t be solved. 
It was a very important lesson I learnt that night after crossing the 170 km mark. It was to not quit at any point but to die trying. It is something that I have always followed till date and I hope to not quit till I die trying.
How many of you have achieved feats that you previously thought impossible? Do let me know!

Photo Credits - Peter

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