PUNE TIMES &TEAM CYMOUR SPIRTS
Race across america has always inspired me to attempt and finish it successfully since 2009 and now i am feeling i'm getting closer towards achieving it. In the last week of October i saw a post in Face book from Divya tate regarding the RAAM qualifying race being held in Pune on 29 Nov 14. At that moment, i was in lucknow, i was excited even though i was busy with my course and moreover i didnt know how to manage a bike as i had left my bike at srinagar. I spoke to my course mate Nilesh who was ready to be a part of my support team. In the last week of October 2014, i reached Pune and was planning to take part in this race. The registrations for the event was scheduled for the last week of Novemeber. I planned to take my Nano in Bangalore as the support vehicle but not sure about the bike and my support crew.
I used to run, do some core strengthening exercises as a part of my training but could not pedal as i still couldnt figure out a road bike. On 07 Nov 14, i spoke to Vishnu who was ready to lend his road bike and he advised to collect his bike from his house in Bangalore. I took a day’s leave and reached Bangalore, met my family, picked my nano and then planned to meet sumit and then meet vishnu. Sumit then was willing to share his bike and the accessories which i loaded in my nano and was on my way back to Pune. I know i had to cycle the same road till Belgaum from Pune for the race. It appeared to be a rolling terrain and was more on the uphill side and then decided that i have to ride this route at least once till belgaum. After reaching Pune, i started training by riding to Singhad fort, Lavassa early in the morning at 4am. Simultaneously, i was forming my support team, i learnt that we need a minimum of two crew members who also know to drive and also have a valid driving licence.
Then there was another shocker, two mandatory exams were scheduled on 29th Nov 14 which was supposed to be the race day. So at this stage things looked bleak but still want to try, i approached my instructor requested him to postpone the test for another day which was a rare possibility but was lucky enough to get the permission. As i was new to Pune, did not have many friends here, so had to call friends in Bangalore for support crew, but unfortunately could not find any. Nilesh gave me some contacts of cymour group as they had organised a group ride to Lonavala. I knew it is going to be a slow ride and will not help me in training but still went ahead with the intention of knowing people.
I met Arham and Aniket and shared my plan to ride the RAAM qualifier race, Arham was spontaneous to offer help as a crew member but Aniket was not completely sure. I was excited so see the enthusiasm of the Pune cycling community in this group ride, felt very good meeting the riders.
After few days Aniket surprisingly confirmed the support for the race, a week before the ride. Arham in the meantime had found more support and there by Sid and Utsav were all in the team. On the day when the team briefing was scheduled at Life cycles we finalised the team and chalked out an amazing plan. Again hats off to my crew members who were all spirited and go getters. Since that Sunday 23 Nov 14, we decided to meet every evening at Cymour shop for the next 5 days. We decided that Aniket would be the team director, Sid will take care of Food and drinks, Utsav will primarily drive and Arham was the race marshaller. Aniket was offering me the new Merida road bike for the race and other accessories. I was not very confident about my training part but looking at the zeal of my team, i was all set to give my 100%, they believed in me more than me in myself. On the day before the race we set our support car, the black innova with the hooters and music system and then the race registration at Cafe Nook.We stayed at Anikets place that evening before the race. We were all set by 0330 am on 29 Nov 14, Anikets parents were also excited about the race.
We reached the race start point, excited to see so many riders with their support crew and the media, festive environment. We named our team as CYMOUR SPIRITS and were all set to rock. We started at number six at 0530 am and then rode strong and in the next couple of hours we were in the second position behind Apurv. At the descent of Mahabaleshwar we overtook him and was in the first position for a long time till 2 pm in the afternoon. At that point i was feeling a bit exhausted, kolhapur was 120 km and then i see Chaitanya, Apurv, Karthikeyan and Sumit blazing past. Kept my cool but my team mates found the problem, that i was not feeding well so, Aniket worked out a solution. He said you take a small 10 min break every hour for the next four hours from 06 pm and eat whatever we give you. I agreed and started following the team instructions, we reached kolhapur, Nippani, Nippani ghat and on our way to Belgaum. After crossing Belgaum at 01 am, we were all set to reach kittur in the best possible time. That stretch even though is 50 km long was seeming to be very far. At 0330 am we reached kittur, I did not want to sleep but my team forced me to sleep for 15 min. Again back on the saddle by 4am, i did my maths at this stage and assessed that if i have to make it to Goa by 1 pm on 30 Nov 14, i really need to go all out all the way. I decided to do that, rode hard reached Belgaum by 0600h and from there onwards no stops at all. Chorla ghat is a tricky hill as there is no summit and you keep going round round and round the hill. Then Aniket told me about this and was a bit peaceful. As we approached the last check point we were all excited that we can make it easily by 1 pm and at that moment Aniket recieved a call from Divya who appraised us about the cut off time, the cut off time was 0115 pm and we were dot two hours short of it. At that moment many things were running in my mind, but was telling myself that i can do it. The last 40 km stretch is a difficult rolling route and i was told that Chaitanya and Apurv have taken two and half hours to complete this stretch. I did not want to give up and rode at 40 km average pace, i knew i was there but still want to push hard. My team was all there with me and that was very inspiring. We were 20 km short of Bogmola beach we encountered a traffic jam of 800 m length, Aniket shouted to carry on and to take a Left turn at the intersection and then i continued as advised, after a few minutes i saw my support car and the team back in action, was relieved as i expected the traffic jam to eat more time. Finally we were 12 km short and we had 1hr 15min more. At that stage there was one uphill which was a killer and i was strong and fast even on that stretch, again all credit to my team mates who were all motivating. The last 10 km in one hour was the stats and the rolling terrain continues, was looking out for Dominos all around the road and then we find the The Deccan Cliifhanger Banners on the left hand side of the road. We made it well in time and had 45 min to spare. Felt very relieved and was ecstatic about the teams efforts. We finished third in the race and that made the team happy, I was happy for my team mates and firmly believe that this was possible only by their efforts. I am proud to be part of the Cymour Spirits team.
Extreme dehydration, could not even walk but had a pint of beer with my team mates and Divya and Farhad at the Bogmola beach.
Heartfelt thanks to:
1 Arham shaikh
2 Aniket and his parents and the Cymour group
4. Sid and his parents
5. Divya Tate
6. Jacob Mathews
8. Nilesh and Mrs Nilesh
9. MOJCC 179
10. Prasun and Manasi
11. Pune Cycling community
12. Yogesh Shinde, Sumit Dwivedi, Vishnu, My Tata Nano and My Wife and kid
AT THE STARTING POINT, CYMOUR SPIRITS TEAM WITH DIVYA (THE RACE DIRECTOR), OUR SUPPORT CAR AND THE START LINE AT PUNE 29 NOV 14 AT 0530 H
FAST START, GHAT SECTION
TOWARDS MAHABHALESHWAR, CHECK OUT OUR MUSIC SYSTEM “BOOM BOOM”, ARHAM THE RACE OFFICIAL
MAHABHALESHWAR DESCENT, TEAM IIN HIGH SPIRITS, NOW LEADING THE RACE, SID WITH GRITTY LOOKS
SATARA KOLHAPUR HIGHWAY, STRATEGIES WORKED OUT, RIDERS CATCHING UP, TOUGH STRETCH AS EXHAUSTION GRADUALLY BUILDING UP
TEAM CONTINUES TO BE IN HIGH SPIRITS, RIDER PUSHING HARD, CREW LEADER ANIKET AND MIGHTY UTSAV CHILLING OUT IN THE CABIN………………………….
ARHAM RUNNING ALONGSIDE THE WHOLE STRETCH OF NIPPANI GHAT, REACHED BELGAUM BY 0100 H, KOLHAPUR BY 0330 H, BACK TO BELGAUM BY 0600 H, HEADING TOWARDS CHORLA GHAT, TEAM FOCUSSED AND DETERMINED RIDER AND THE CREW 100% COMMITMENT
RACING AGAINST TIME , TOWARDS GOA, SHEER HARDWORK BY EVERY TEAM MEMBER OF CYMOUR SPIRITS, RIDER MOTIVATED, REACHED BOGMOLA BEACH WITHIN RAAM Q TIME, WELL DESERVED BEER