October 2, 2014 – a red-letter day in my life. Well it was a normal holiday as usual but for me it was different as I was attempting my longest ride ever (attempting – Yes that is the word we use at Toastmasters before anyone gives his prepared speech). The previous best was 68.77 kms return and this time I was aiming at 80 kms return. I had marked the location on the map (Google maps – what would I have done without you?) and was scheduled to turn back from the junction where you turn right for Kalyan on the Eastern Express Highway
Preparations: The previous Sunday I slept through so missed on the ride to Thane but my companion Rony warned me to do some riding so on Monday morning went all alone to Afghan Church in Colaba and returned via Eastern Freeway. Tuesday was an aimless short ride, something that I too was ashamed of but in hindsight that helped too. Wednesday had the usual BKS Iyengar yoga. On Wednesday evening, I was preparing myself mentally and nutritionally for the ride. Being a diabetic, I was devoid of sugar and the instant energy boost it would give me but my sister, a qualified nutritionist and weight loss expert, advised me to carry diluted juice. Had a 200 ml Tropicana Grape Juice without any added sugar which I diluted with 500 ml of water. I also had a 1 litre bottle refrigerated during the night to which I added salt to bring in some electrolytes. My bag was stuffed with a spare napkin and two white handkerchiefs to be used under the helmet to protect my head from the heat. Also had a handful of nuts ie Almonds, walnuts and prunes in a plastic bag. These days we are so used to being digital and so had the battery back up and cable with me just to ensure that the phone didn’t run dry. Slept early around 2200 the previous night.
Motivation: This was an essential component. Before I went to bed the previous night, I messaged a couple of my close friends in the US, my sister and my yoga teacher just so that I knew I was accountable and couldn’t chicken out. Of course had made a big noise about it at home. They all encouraged me and their words of encouragement made it impossible for me to then back out.
The Big Day: I was up at 0359 with the alarm and was ready by 0500. I had a banana in the morning and along with that had my usual coffee. Left at 0530 from home and reached the meeting spot at King’s Circle where Rony was to arrive. He was doing the distance and was going all the way to Igatpuri which is 128 kms one way. At 0530 the weather was very pleasant and the traffic wasn’t too bad. Just that there were no lights on the roads in patches which made it difficult. So a word of caution for fellow cyclists (beginners like me) please ensure you have proper lighting not just on the rear of the bicycle but also on the front handle. And make sure they are ON.
Couple of water halts and we were in Thane easily and continued to Bhiwandi and ended up at Kalyan junction where Rony had some snacks while I had my apple and banana with the water. Bought water from there. Hydration is a must so keep adequate water in your bag. Of course the heavier the bag, the more difficult it gets to pedal. Rony goaded me to add 10 more kms to the distance so that I could overcome the 100 kms return milestone. The what if scenarios came to the mind of the doubting Thomas. But then it was pleasant so decided to give it a shot. Did it and turned back while Rony proceeded on his way to Igatpuri.
Alone and I was trying to gather all motivation mentally to keep me going. Quite a few times the thought of giving up came to my mind but the messages of the previous night made me think, how could I face them with a DNF (Did not finish). And most importantly what would Kavya think if I gave up when I am always telling her “Never give up” Went on. When up the slope, I would hear my Yoga Teacher telling me “Exhale! Exhale in the pose” (as she does during yoga) Then I could hear Kavya’s voice telling me “Come on Papa you can do it”. Imaginary yes but had a telling effect. Made it past Bhiwandi to Thane and it was getting hotter. The sun was all guns blazing at me and for a person used to the air conditioner, it was living hell. Found a coconut juice vendor on the service road in Thane which was shaded too. Had one there and asked him to pour another into the bottle. Also bought a couple of bananas of which one I finished there.
Next stop I took was on the service road from Airoli junction to Vikhroli. Bio break cum hydration break so it was input and output 🙂 Very few trees honestly and it was getting tougher. Started singing Manna Dey’s “Tujhko chalna hoga, tujhko chalna hoga“. Gosh I sure need a lot of motivation.
Halted at Amar Mahal junction under a tree then moved on for the next halt under Bhakti Park bridge. I was now in extra familiar territory. Thought of giving up thinking that now I am almost home, can take a cab. Plus my muscles around the knees were getting cramped. Lowered the gear substantially to continue at ease. Turned at Sion Hospital and made it home. First thing I did was check the distance before entering the lift. It was 101.36 so yes I did make it.
Entered home at 1220 tired surely but elated. Screamed to all as I entered home. Kavya wasn’t there but shared with her later on. Posted on Social media, SMSed & Whatsapped people too. Post the shower and lunch, slept like a log for 3 hours. Thighs paining, butt busted but all in all it was worth it all. If you can dream it you can do it. And if you just push the envelope slightly more, success is yours.