#CyclingMonks accompanied these super cool cyclists of Konkan Randonneurs, as they rode a 600 km brevet from Tavandi to Pune and back.
Konkan Randonneurs are a group of keen cyclists based out of Sawantwadi, Maharashtra. The group is affiliated to the Audax India club, which in turn is affiliated to the parent in France.
The group organises timed rides, known as brevets. The brevets vary in length starting from 200 km and can go up to 1400 km. Every route needs to be completed in a pre-defined time. There are cut-off points enroute.
A person who rides brevets is called a randonneur and the sport is called randonneuring.
Unlike in races, there is no ‘gold, silver, bronze positions’ accorded. Whoever completes the ride in the given time, is considered a finisher. Irrespective of what position they crossed the finish line.
This endurance sport is designed to increase the camaraderie amongst cyclists, as they cover long distances together. The essence is not to compete, but help each other whenever required.
Randonneuring is one of the most popular disciplines amongst cyclists in India. Almost every Indian cyclist (and their grandfathers!) having ridden a brevet at some point of time or the other.
600 KM: Tavandi – Pune – Tavandi
Watch the video below that #CyclingMonks shot of the brevet which started in Tavandi, Maharashtra, went all the way to Pune and ended back in Tavandi.
The ride started early morning from the top of Tavandi ghat and the three riders set off in the opposite direction to Pune.
They probably were lost! Or their compass must have been pointing south. But after 28 km, the trio managed to find their bearings and made their way towards Pune.
The three riders, Pushkar (of La La Land fame!), Rupesh and Chandrakant made slow progress towards the first Check Point. Which was at McDonald’s Kolhapur. Where unsurprisingly the food was terrible and the only good thing was the clean toilets!
Endurance cycling makes for a boring spectator sport. You can sit and watch the riders for hours and not see even a moment of drama. Except when someone throws a tantrum because of a puncture. In this deflated incident, it was Pushkar!
The riders were to take a U-Turn at a Cafe Coffee Day in Chandni Chowk, Pune.
This is where the community spirit of randonneuring is most apparent.
A cyclist from Pune, Prashant Jog, met the three in the middle of the night at that check point, just so that he could stamp their papers. What did he get in return? Absolutely nothing, besides inadequate sleep!
Chandrakant, the strongest of the 3 riders pushed ahead and returned to Katraj to catch a few hours of fitful sleep post midnight. Pushkar followed an hour or so later, while Rupesh reached after sunrise. Just in time to catch a bath and then hit the road again.
Rupesh had managed to get some sleep on the footpath outside CCD in Pune. Such is the glamorous life of a randonneur…
Cycles are simple machines. As such, cycles rarely ever break down.
What does break down often is the rider.
After pushing hard on one climb too many, Chandrakant threw in the towel. He was experiencing pain in the knee. A common enough injury for cyclists, generally the cause of overexertion.
He had already ridden 400 km before making a wise decision. Young man that he is, it is easy to get caught up in one’s own hubris and push your body to breaking point. That decision was wise and brave in the circumstances.
Head Down…Finish Line
After 400 km, both the riders were too tired to form strategies. It was simply a case of buckling down and grinding their way to the finish line.
The finish line was at the top of a 2 km climb to Tavandi. The suffering that Rupesh and Pushkar endured on that final stretch was phenomenal.
Pushkar made it with 25 minutes to spare. While Rupesh finished with just 11 minutes in hand. He cut it fine indeed.
Once more the community came to the fore. Cyclists from around the place came to applaud the two exhausted heroes. Rupesh’s friends drove 100 km from home to see him finish the ride in style!
Once past the goal post
After witnessing the 600 km brevet, a few thoughts popped up:
Randonneuring has help grow cycling in India as a sport disproportionately.
Brevets are a comfortable mix of competitiveness and companionship. Riders compete against the clock, but not amongst themselves.
It is welcome for all. Chandrakant rode in sandals, Rupesh in sneakers and Pushkar in cleats. Quite a variety of footwear which you wouldn’t find in other forms of cycling!
Brevets shouldn’t be the end goal. It can be used as a stepping stone. With the confidence and mileage of brevets, you can choose to train for short course races. Go out solo touring. Or race in supported or self-supported ultra distance cycle races.
Thanks to Konkan Randonneurs for the invitation to witness and marshal this 600 km brevet.