Bumpy Trail Bicyclists at the T3 Gurgaon 200km Brevets

ravikiran gunale and kp Pranam getting set for the early morning start. (photo from facebook album by taran j singh)

three intrepid bumpy trailers from iitk went down for the 200km brevet at gurgaon on oct 16, 2011.

  • ravi kiran gunale on a Schwinn Frontier Sport,
  • kp pranam on a rockrider 5.1,
  • amit mukerjee on a btwin sports one.
  • brevets are endurance cycling events where one has to complete a long course within a specified time. finishers completing 200k, 400k, and 600k events qualify for participating in the ten-day Paris-Brest-Paris ultra bicycling event (once in four years).

    this, the first brevet in north india, was being organized by team t3. route: Gurgaon-Nuh-Taoru-Palwal-Sohna-Gurgaon and included a climb of about 200m in a 3km stretch.

    also see my notes from the 100km brevet from a fortnight before.


    0530AM: leisure valley parking, gurgaon:
    bicycle silhouettes gathered in the dark. wheels being assembled. huddles of helmets. the hood of a scorpio lit up by a headlight lamp. i find ravi and pranam, and stand in line. they are doing the event on bicycles they have never ridden before; they purchased their helmets only yesterday! someone flags me in and i get included in the first group. jaskaran and i - who had done the 100K run together - start off around 6:10.

    the sun was rising by the time we crossed the gurgaon urban sprawl 0634 AM. ravi kiran (from noida) and jaskaran 0641 AM.

    0630AM, halfway to sohna:
    in most of my longer rides, i tend to go easier than i can, just to be on the safe side. today, i intended to push myself a bit. so at some point about 15km down, i started speeding up.

    i drafted this truck that was going at a steady 32kmph for about 4km before Sohna. For a while, several of the lead group cyclists also joined in.

    long line of trucks filling up with earth at rewasan 0723

    32km into the ride (photo from facebook album by Taran J Singh)

    group of cyclists behind me, 0731 AM. possibly, i was in the lead for some 25 km after sohna (you can see the peloton behind me in the picture above). during the ghati climb however, everyone overtook me :(

    control-point-2 0818 AM. harjot, a class XII student, climbing to Ctrl Point 2 along with some other riders 0844 AM.

    at the control point 2, i had thought i would go a couple of kms ahead and visit some tombs in Taoru, dating from the delhi sultanate period - their architecture was quite tughlaiq. however, a bit down the road, i realized that taoru was 7km down, so i quit and headed back. in the climb down to nuh, i was looking for ravi and pranam. at one point, i saw ravi and u-turned to ride with him a bit. he sounded like he was doing well. pranam, he said, had had some problems but was just a little behind. however, i couldn't see pranam in the remaining 2kms to nuh...

    0915: nuh-hodal: prime avian territory

    a waterlogged ganesha looking fondly at a little heron. about 10km past nuh, 09:24 AM.
    a flock of 30+ black-winged stilts at a jheel near Ujina, 09:27.

    pied avocet with up-curving beak, foraging along with the group of black-winged stilts. my species first sighting for this winter visitor.

    1000: getting lost at Utawar
    about 20km after nuh, ashish and i were riding together when we came across a busy intersection with the road on the left saying palwal. i thought this must be the turn, and we took it. a little later, we had misgivings, because the road was rather small and very rural - the 3d pit-stop, a cafe coffee day, was extremely unlikely in these environs. but we couldn't find anyone to ask for a while. eventually, we determined that we had turned way too soon, and that hodal was still 21km from that turn. as we turned around, we saw armin david, who had followed us into this path...

    so that was another 4km of wasted pedalling.

    a little after getting back on the road, i was surprised to hear the sound of children's voices from inside a dense copse. there was just this little hut with a porthole window on one edge of the copse...

    lunch break: biriyani at islam's near the village of kot. kids materialized within minutes even on this desolate stretch of road. Islam offered me a pull on his cool-looking hookah, but I had miles to go... 10:24 AM.

    indian pariah kite taking off. it was sitting on the border of a field, and a group of egrets were harassing it, possibly to protect a nest. 10:50 AM.

    puncture at palwal 1253 AM. my bike is notorious for punctures - i was the puncture champ of tfn-10 (nine in a week); but things have improved a lot since i cut up a strip from a tube as a rim liner. i must have lost practice, for this tube took a while to replace. the kids (and adults) were impressed with the pump and its pressure gauge...

    the stretch from palwal to sohna was very debilitating and i had to take many breaks. the road surface was also rather uneven. i had cramps (very rare for me) after the CCD stop, and a puncture at palwal. about midway to sohna, i found a charpoy on someone's porch and they let me rest on it for a disciplined five minutes (while keeping half an ear crooked to the sound of the pump being tested etc). as i was leaving, a sozzled uncle showed up and started gali-ing belligerently and had to be restrained by others.

    why indian highways are in such bad state

    i perked up a bit after reaching the sohna-gurgaon highway, where i encountered a strange mode of transportation...

    this tractor sped past at about 40kph, noisily dragging a huge block of wood. i managed to shoot this when it slowed down to turn along some earthy roads to a village. 15:16

    shouldn't there be highway laws that prevent actions deleterious to the tarmac? but who would be bothered enforcing them?

    i finished the final 27 km at a decent pace. i had a short maaza break at bhondsi, where the locals were glad to tell me about the new torture chambers that had been setup at the bhondsi jail, for interrogating "terrorists".

    got to the finish point at 1625 -- a run time of 10:15; out of the 54 starters, about ten people had come in ahead of me. pedal time was 8:27 minutes at an average speed of 23.6 - certainly my highest speed for such a long run. not bad at all given the many breaks towards the photography, biryani, CCD and charpoy stops...

    jyoti punj worked at the home station morning to night while we were enjoying the changing scenery...
    most of the volunteers in the t3 events are avid bicyclists

    i thought ravi and kp would be showing up soon, but both had gotten delayed somewhere around hodal - kp had missed the CCD checkpoint also. jaskaran was going to give me a ride (two bikes in his santro!) so he was also waiting. as it turned out, due to our inexperience, we had made a mistake. ravi and kp, though they arrived at 5, were not flagged off till 6:30. in the event, ravi got in ten minutes after the final desk had officially closed; he couldn't get the official brevet seal though his total time was probably less than some of the accepted riders. kp also missed the cut, but given his relative inexeperience, the fact that he finished itself was a superb feat!

    anyhow, jas and i went out and got some beers and snacks and we celebrated the end of day with the last remaining organizers and bumpy trailers. by the time we pulled out, the moon was peeping up through the towers of gurgaon...

    route map and description

    click for gpsies.com route of the 200km brevet.

    detailed description of the route and all the junctions etc. can be found on this Cue Sheet prepared by manas arvind of team t3 (abridged plaintext version).

    the T3 team is organizing a series of brevets. the 400km brevet came up after this (nov 11).
    amit mukerjee for the bumpy trail bicyclists oct 2011.     feedback: mukerjee [at] gmail