The plan was, me and my son, Sreemukh would wake up early and go for a ride. We love going together, all by ourselves, before it dawns. Thanks to a late night visitor who insisted on coming at that odd time and converse past eleven with my son (a customer for his gaming console that he decided to sell), Sreemukh wouldn’t wake up early the next morning. So I decided to go alone as I do mostly. There has been this ‘itch’ for a while that I do a non-stop 100 kms on the bike. I knew it could be difficult but not impossible. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this that day, as I was not mentally prepared for it. So here I am, out on the road to make at least a 50+ that day.
Left at 6:15 and the early morning weather was fantastic. It’s heaven to venture out early. Thanks to summer, it isn’t too chilly. I hop on, and ride away in my usual route of Outer Ring Road (ORR), and go past the AP Police Academy. Had to struggle a bit to figure out how I take a right on to the Gandipet road from ORR. Our R&B department works fantastic. They have completed a bridge at AP Police Academy, but did not care to provide an exit to take right. I go past the place where I needed a right, but wouldn’t find any scope as far as I could see. After some distance, I noticed there was an unofficial U turn to take left that eventually could lead to the road for Gandipet. I took that and was racing on the beautiful Tarmac trying to imagine how many deer could be there in that deer park (or did just say vanya mriga?) to my right. I get on to the road that goes towards Chilukuru Balaji temple, and was confident I can easily make 50 km for this ride (round trip).
It was then, I decided I will ride whatever I felt comfortable, not pushing myself to the edge. I calculated if I rode for 3 hours roughly one-way, I could surely complete a century even if I had significantly slowed down on my return. But then riding near about 12 noon on my return could hazardous, ‘given’ that Sun and I don’t go together! Ever! (All one has to do was leave me under the Sun for few minutes in summer, and I would get giddiness for sure).
I have started enjoying more as I moved on to the outskirts of the urban, and get to see farm fields, stray dogs, a hut or a house here and there where the home-ministers were lazily brushing their teeth and getting ready for the day when the entire family will get to be together. It was a Sunday. As I went past Moinabad, I knew I could go for ‘some more’ distance comfortably and be sure of my return as well. I figured out all my options, what I would do if I was unable to ride further for my return or had a flat or a ‘technical snag’ with my bike (call my wife – she wouldn’t like it driving to an unknown terrain, get my father to get a taxi, or me requesting an inter-town auto, or use one of those RTC buses to get me to Hyderabad . . . .). Then I saw the milestone that indicated Chevella was 17 kms away. I decided I will reach Chevella, have a breakfast and return, even if I wouldn’t complete century. It didn’t matter. Doing a century wasn’t too important a goal for that day; just wanted to have one long ride. I decided I will not look at my cyclocomputer and tempt myself to push further to reach 50.
So here I am, reaching Chevella eventually, not tired at all, but yes was looking forward to a sumptuous breakfast. I was slowly getting concerned that I couldn’t see any restaurant. After riding a couple of kilometers I think, I got to see a reasonable restaurant. Chevella is a bigger town that I imagined, as I saw nearly the entire city visible from a distance. Tied up my bike to a pole that I could find conveniently and got in to the restaurant. For sure I was an alien to the crowd, what with my fancy looking bicycle, helmet, biking gloves, ear phones, goggles and all. Although tempted to have a decent breakfast, I felt I would be better off with a lighter one to keep me active. I had a plate of idly and tea, and back to work! Albeit light, the breakfast made me good. It was then that I looked up my cyclocomputer and realized I had already covered 47 kms and would just have to manage a few more kilometers as I approach my home to make my dream of nonstop 100 km ride true. Picked up couple of biscuit packets, just in case I needed for my return and started riding back.
There were all several curious on-lookers and some would dare and ask where I came from and where I was going. There was this young adolescent motor cyclist and his pillion rider, who with their curiosity came in my way suddenly slowing down and almost made me fall down. They rode with me for some time, made me stop and asked several questions on the bike components. I decided I will get rid of them and rather take a souvenir with a farmer who I left behind me in the field on my way. The conversation with the farmer was very pleasing. He was surprised that while he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) go to the nearby village from his village by bicycle, that I would ride all the way from Hyderabad and back. He said he watched me during my onward journey as well. Farmers in this country are among the most hard working from what I know. For a country that thrives on agriculture and had been among the most civilized since several centuries, isn’t this the most disappointing? (Read my other blog on status of agriculture in India here). On a Sunday, here is this guy tilling the field, even as early as my onward journey. I am sure he would work till the dusk. And his companions are the bullocks who work equally hard, for him! Will there be a day when farmers have equal comforts as most other people do in this country?
Rest of my ride till I reached the ORR, was uneventful, although very enjoyable. The sun was going up, but I wasn’t going down!! Now here I am on to the ORR, did not feel the need to stop before that road to get a cup of tea by the road side cafe. Usually the ride on the ORR isn’t too bad, except for one killer uphill flyover. But this time, the Sun was blasting at 11:15 AM and wind blew so hard that I would have to ‘pedal’ even down-hill and barely reach 20 kmph speed while it usually is 35+.
There was some computational error, or more likely the cyclocomputer did not work (it occasionally happens) for part of my return ride, that I realized I had to make another 20 kms to hit the century. This last 20 was a real struggle and I did have to push myself for finding odd routes to complete the balance distance, and push myself under the hot Sun. My speed came to down a bare 10 kmph. Eventually I completed it, and felt very complacent when I reached home, after riding for a near nonstop five and a half hours. The only stop was for breakfast for 15 minutes and minute here and there for picking up biscuits or water bottle. Sure, I could improve my average speeds. But I am never concerned of my speed. My goals are more on distances rather than speed.
Now I know, I can make an inter-city ride by bicycle, all by myself riding at least a hundred kilometers a day! Some day!! Not too bad ain’t it?