So the first cycling practice expedition for Enduro was in place. At 6:30 AM, on a sunday morning, we were to meet at Rajaram Bridge, Sinhagad Road and head off towards the base of sinhgad, climb sinhgad and get back to Pune on our bikes. The group consisted as two of our college professors and the three of us (our team).
My dear cycle, by now was a week old, and I’ve managed about 4-5 kms per day, and the estimate cycling route of Rajaram Bridge-Sinhgad Base- Rajaram Bridge was about 40 Kilometers. Well, almost 10 times the daily route ….:)
So I took off from my place at about 5:30 AM in the morning and cycled up to Sancheti Hospital to get a rickshaw. Well, A rickshaw; because this was my first attempt at long distance cycling and I didn’t want to reach the start point of the expedition, totally spent and exhausted. This trip was kind of my gauging meter to decide how much of cycling I can actually take in one go. Anyway, after an emotionally charged speech to the greedy bunch of auto drivers at 5:45 AM in the morning, one of them agreed to transport me and my cycle at the regular meter charges as opposed the astronomical rates Pune rickshaw drivers usually quote without even hearing the destination.
I reached Rajaram Bridge at 6:30 AM sharp to find both our professors already waiting there. My usually punctual team mates were late and our team was already behind schedule. Also waiting with us at the same starting point was a convoy of about 50 cyclists, ages ranging from 6 to 60, all headed to Khanapur for a ride. It was an inspiring sight.
Anyway, we started our journey at about 7 AM. And then it began…..the love hate relationship between my foot and the paddle. The ride towards Sinhgad, quite naturally, is uphill. When you are cycling, you actually begin to appreciate the downward slopes & (curse the) upward climbs on a regular road that seems straight to a motorist’s eye. Also wading through the motorists in the harrowing city traffic has stimulated in me, a new found respect for cyclists. Coming back to the track, so we reached the base of Sinhgad, parked our bikes, had a lil’ chai-poha and started climbing the aforementioned fort. Being amateurs, naturally after 20 odd kilometers of cycling, we found the task of trekking the fort pretty difficult. Plus we were doing it after the sun was up and that certainly wasn’t adding to our pleasure. So every now and then the three of would exchange looks, hinting for a break, but of course one of the three remained sensible and advised the other two against these frequent breaks. So anyway, 3 glasses of Limboo sharbat, 1 kakdi and 1 plate of salted aavla later we reached the top. We really took a lot of time to climb, with too many unwarranted stoppages. But the good thing is that, as a team, no one uttered negative remarks, I mean sure, we cracked our jokes , but we also kept moving. We made plans of taking a jeep to get down the fort and later on hiring a cab to get the bikes back home….I mean, seriously this is what kept us going to the top. Of course, We were all well aware that none was this was to be even uttered , let alone the execution part, under the careful watch of our professor.
We had lunch at Sinhgad, the usual and amazing bhakri, pitla, bhareet, chutney, lots of dahi and taak. I mostly feasted on dahi and this time tried both the variations i.e. dahi with sugar and dahi with masala. I’ve never been a huge dahi fan, but god knows what had gotten into me that day.
Ten minutes after lunch, we started our climb downward. Again, we took a lil longer to climb down, heat/tiredness, whatever the reason be, we’ve gotta improve this timing. Of course, since this was our first time, it was a kind of stress test for the three of us. Hence, timing was immaterial, the load bearing capacity was the primary concern.
We reached the base and within five minutes, we were on our cycles to start the journey back home. This was the most magical part of the expedition…….the downward slopes made the ride from Sinhgad upto Khadakwasla a complete dream. We completed this whole distance in about 15-20 minutes. Of course, we compensated for this in the stretch after Khadakwasla upto Vadgaon as it involves quite a few upward slopes.
And we were back at Rajaram bridge by 3 PM. So a brief round-up of this expedition to evalauate where we stand;
On the negative side;
- Our onward cycling timing was not great. We took about 1:50 minutes almost (I’m counting the last member coming in, that’s me, the other two took 15 minutes lesser than me).
- We took one and a half hours to climb up and the same time to climb down the Fort Sinhgad, which should’ve been cut to one hour each way.
- We took quite a few stops cycling on our way to Sinhgad, which have to be cut down. Also, getting off the cycle on upward slopes should be avoided. (Note to duddu and self )
- Even during trekking, we stopped about 4-5 times. These stoppages should be minimized; they can’t be brought down to zero, but sure can be kept to a minimum.
- We took a breakfast break at Sinhgad base and a lunch break at the top. Enduro will not give us room for such leniency in terms of food breaks.
On the plus side;
- We did it. Yes this is a huge plus point. We could well have chickened out after the climb to Sinhgad. But we kept a positive mindset and stuck it out.
- As a team, agreed that we have a difference in speeds, but it is not way too high. We’ll just have work to normalize this band gap.
- We bought geared bikes all right, but this expedition actually taught us to exploit the advantage that the gears have to offer. So learning the usage of gears on actual terrain was another huge plus emerging from this expedition.
- After completion, we mutually agreed that we weren’t completely dead and out. We could’ve cycled for another hour or so. So that’s a very positive outcome of this road trip, despite undertaking such a huge bike journey for the first time, we still had energy left for some more cycling.
- All body parts were functioning well, no severe pains etc. :) Yes, this was a major concern, the next day being a Monday.
- We realized and repeated to ourselves the need for consistent practice over the next one month.
So all in all, a great Sunday it was. My first bike trip, so all the more reason for it to stay etched in my memory firmly. We have three more weekends before D-Day. We will be undertaking another cycling and trekking trip next Sunday, and this time sir has warned us beforehand, there will be fewer breaks.
Well, bring it on…..:)