Riding for glory

Riders of Trivandrum Bikers Club on a ride.Photo: special arrangement   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

On 12 June 1897, a group of Italian cyclists tackled the route between Rome and Naples in a single day. Cycling was much more gruelling back then and this 230-km ride was considered an ‘audacious’ achievement. After that similar ‘day-long’ sporting challenges became popular, especially cycling.

This finally led to the creation of ‘Audax’(also called Randonneur), a title conferred by Audax Club Parisien (ACP), the international governing body in randonneuring and one of the largest cycling clubs in France, to those cyclists who finish a ride (a randonneuring event, also known as a brevet) of 200-km or above certified by ACP.

Since 1976, the brevets certified by ACP are organised in other countries as well. These are known as Brevets des Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRM) and the first 300-km BRM, organised by Trivandrum Bikers Club (TBC), of Kerala is all set to kick off on today. “This is a long distance self-sustained endurance ride. The participants are on their own, as they cannot avail themselves of any outside help in case of punctures or other problems. Although light refreshments are provided at checkpoints, they have to carry their own food and water or buy them on the way. The cyclists who complete the ride adhering to all the rules will be known as a ‘Randonneur’ for life,” explains Jayesh Parambath of TBC.

Brevet is a gruelling adventure that is to be finished within a particular time-frame and even the specific checkpoints need to be cleared with in a specific time. Today’s brevet has been named ‘5 lamps and 3 beaches ride’, as it is a ride to Changanassery (known as ‘The city of 5 lamps’), touching three beaches(Kappil, Varkala and Shanghumugham). “The ride starts from Crank cycling joint at Kowdiar at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The riders will take the MC road to reach the first manned checkpoint at Changanassery. The checkpoint there opens at 7.51 p.m. and closes at 12.45 a.m. Anyone reaching there after 12.45 a.m. will be disqualified. The same goes in the case of all the checkpoints,” explains Jayesh.

From Changanassery, riders would have to take a U-turn to MC road to reach the second major checkpoint at Nilamel. The riders will then ride to the third manned checkpoint at Shanghumugham, taking the Nilamel-Paripally-Kappil-Varkala-Perumathura-Thumba route. The brevet should be completed by 12 p.m. on Sunday. There will also be some unmanned checkpoints in between.

So this not an event for the faint hearts. Heat exhaustion and blackouts are pretty common during brevets. “It is an extremely physical as well as strategic event. The participants will have to properly manage time, speed and energy to be successful. You might have to cope with injuries, dehydration and mechanical problems. Riders need to be aware of blackouts due to sudden drop in energy levels. This is a night ride, so head lights of other vehicles will also be a big problem,” says Krishna Mandava, one of the participants and a five-time ‘Super Randonneur’, that is, a rider who has finished all the different brevets starting from 200 km to 600 km in a single season.

Medical Transcriptionist and city-based rider Ajith S. believes that brevets will help greatly in popularising cycling, apart from being a test of physical and mental strength. He says, “Whenever we go for such long rides, residents of the places we pass through look at us with much curiosity. They ask us why we are doing it, how much time we take and what kind of cycles we are using. So these kind of events have a lot of potential to bring back the lost love for cycles.” Ten riders are participating in the ‘5 lamps and 3 beaches’ ride and most of them are TBC members. TBC has organised four 200-km BRMs before. This ride will be their fifth brevet.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:24:42 AM |

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