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Raman Garimella rode: Last year, when Sarav...
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- 376 miles
- 39:47 time
- 9.4 pace
- 0 calories
Last year, when Saravanan went to the medal presentation in Bangalore, a journalist from The Hindu asked him about the 600k and what it took. He said something about mental toughness being more key than physical ability. I thought, "What a load! How can anything be more important than physical ability? Saravanan just wants to sound cool in the papers." Because at that time, it was all about distance. The longer the ride, the more impressive it is and nobody wondered about any mental-anything.
Today, I realize that it is not physical ability that cuts it. In fact, here is my list. In order to complete this kind of ride, you will need to:
be out of your mind - nobody in their right mind would sign up for this. We have laughed about this several times
have patience - lots of it. it is like being flogged a 100 times while knowing that you have the choice to not be flogged
possess the ability to make a solid playlist - you are climbing at high noon, sweat dripping all over your face, heart rate going berserk and what track is playing? Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh. Anuradha Paudwal version.
repeat holy names that give you strength - Sangakkara, Waugh, Dravid, Jayawardene, Youhana and so on. I kid you not, these are men who will bat as though a little girl's life depended on it.
have a sense time management
listen to what your body says
ignore what your body says (Ajendra and I left this debate to an open conclusion)
own comfortable equipment
know a lot of swear words - because life's difficulties are much better handled if you know the right words. what to say when 7-seaters cut you, when the road is bad, or when the 30kph winds are tackling you head-on is really important. this comes from your genes.
As you can see, physical ability is probably 12th man in this list.
A short report:
Vamsi, Murali and I picked up right where we left off in the 400 (read about it here: http://www.dailymile.com/people/rgarimella/entries/12330608). Riders left at 4pm, it is 4.15 now and we are far from starting. Vamsi is unpacking from his car and packing onto his bike, Murali is spending the last precious moments with his fiancee (it was more touching than a railway station scene) and I am eating black-forest pastry.
I felt strong and was even leading for a while. After dinner at Bhootpur (100km), rode some distance before the familiar temptation to sleep in a bus stop returned. (Supporting video: http://bit.ly/zuUjnM)
Then I rode really well (almost 80km without a break). At 200km, I had just missed Sreekanth Gupta and Satish S. Dr. Ramana Reddy and Rajashekar Bathula - the control point officials - were there to welcome us. Here I spent over an hour before starting again and riding literally non-stop till dawn. Then I decided to nap again. But not before I could miss the beautiful transition of night-dawn.
After waking up I rode perhaps the toughest 40km I have ridden in a long time. The climbing, brutal winds, pressure of completing within time was all "naaasty" (Dr. Murali)
At 300, this is what we should have felt like: http://www.dailymile.com/people/rgarimella/photos/162880 But Ajendra, Murali and I collapse in some dhaba, eat idlis, eggs, milk. Ajendra and I started back at 10.30am. After 22km, we had a 3-4 hour break at Reliance A-1 dhaba. The staff were all Oriya and Ajendra gelled with them, got access to full facilities. We freshened up. I had a shower, big lunch and a nap. At 3.30 Ajendra and I start. From here, I had nausea on and off. Abuse the body and it will get back.
In short, like in racing, the ride started only in the 2nd half. Of the 5 of us (Murali, Vamsi, Ajendra, Praveen and I) I was in a great place because, well, I tried to nap a lot. We had to face a lot of winds. We were all seeing things. At one point, I looked at a reflective post (from far) by the road and thought for a full minute that it was Ajendra standing with his bike. I wonder what the others saw.
At 440km, we stopped at a dhaba and had food that went horribly wrong. The dhaba owner was kind enough to put up 4 chairs for me to sleep on, and give me enough Naga Chaitanya for a month. Dhada and Ye Maya Chesava were on full blast on TV. I wake up to be the last rider yet again.
The last 100km was death. I guess we should have expected it. Everybody faced the horror of non-completion and outperformed themselves to finish. My light battery ran out at Bhootpur (500km) and the delusions only got worse. I reached Shadnagar (Ashiana cafe) and I had assumed that everybody would stop there. I sat inside and relaxed, had coffee, egg puff, horlicks, took a dump, refilled water and when I come out, I see Vamsi. It didn't strike me that EVERYBODY had crossed me! I was under the impression that Vamsi and I were leading. We were actually the last two guys and it took me over an hour to realize that I was the last rider :) and it was not my realization. Deepu had to tell me. I guess fatigue made me really dumb.
The finish was a big relief. Deepu and Shetty came till Shamshabad to receive me and give company. It was big of them, and was a lot of fun riding the ORR with them. Vamsi and I reached the end-point at 7.47am. Breakfast was with the biggest joint family of Hyderabad (http://bit.ly/dyEj7e).
Now, I am sore on the seat, have 1-2 illnesses (throat/sinuses/cough), recovering I hope. My socks have thinned, my gloves smell like socks. Helmet strap has chafed off a little skin under the chin.
Special thanks to Krishna Mandava for the motivation SMSes, Dasari Rajashekar for Oakley sunglasses, Gokul for saddle bag, Deepu for handlebar bag, Maninder Singh for helping with the bike setup.
I don't think I "learned" anything from last time. I know time management is most important, and I know I don't make/stick to a plan. I pamper myself to elaborate breaks, naps, egg puffs, etc, familiar panic at the end, and great relief in the penultimate hour. This, in fact, is exactly how I acquired my education. I completely accept this, and have learned how to cope with it
Cast (in no order):
Sreekanth Gupta - Had to drop out at 260 because of a knee issue. His dropping out was a shock because he was leading almost all the time
Appu Karthik - Dropped out at 200km because of a really scary injury. If I were him, I wouldn't have had the guts to even sign up for the 600
Satish Surapaneni - Legend. His Super Randonneur status denied only because of a minor slip/misunderstanding in the 300. He couldn't finish within time. I think that stung him and he learned his lesson. Finished subsequent brevets with large cushions.
Srinivas Kolli - Braveheart whose dropping out made me really sad. His finishing would have put all Chain Reaction Cycles shoppers to shame. He rides with the basic equipment and has spirit you cannot kill.
Ajendra - This runner/adventure enthusiast was strongly advised to not sign up for 600. He was my riding mate for a long time. Leapfrogged each other several times.
Murali Nannapaneni - This gentleman is great fun to ride with. Be it Heritage Ride in the city or 600. We have many common memories and moments. Latest of them being taking a dip every 2 hours from the same tub of butt cream.
Vamsi Gangavalli - Vamsi is my partner in lousiness. We are the students that while away the entire year and then lose sleep the day before assignment submission. And the last students to put it on the teacher's desk. As she is about to leave for home. Habitually.
Praveen Pamidi - Praveen and Vamsi are Hyderabad's first Super Randonneurs. My money was on him to finish fastest, but he lost a lot of time helping people fix flats and basically obliging at every rest point. Today, Praveen was one of us back-benchers
[Sportscenter Music http://bit.ly/bBHYrV]
Maruti Suzuki Play of the Day
At the turn around point, Man of the Match Satish Super-neni spends only 10 minutes before heading back to give him a HUGE psychological edge. There was panic when we realized that the last 40km to the turn-around point was to be done in 1.5 hours with HUGE climbing and headwinds. While we are busting our behinds climbing to the 300km point, he is descending and gives us the greatest motivation in cycling: "Just 10 mins away". It worked. And after this, we spent almost 90mins at breakfast, while Satish was deep into his return leg. Soon, the edge was not just psychological, but real. He was MILES away and we knew we were never going to smell him. Congratulations to him on completing this ride on his new road bike that he has taken really well to. Satish sir also has a very strong resistance against sleeping. He NEVER sleeps.
He used to serve in the Army.