Meet the amateur cyclists at Coimbatore’s Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur

France and cycling invariably conjure up thoughts of the prestigious Tour de France. But there is another equally popular cycling event, the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) Randonneur that, unlike the Tour de France, is open to amateurs across the world. Started in 1891, (older than Tour de France), the PBP is from August 18-22.

This year’s edition will see over 300 riders from India participate, of which Chakkravarthy Birur, Siva Balaji, Sakthivel Manian and Achyuta Krishnan are from Coimbatore. The common thread that connects these four riders is their passion for riding and the amateur spirit. They took up cycling with minimal background in the sport and it is the sheer persistence that has kept them going.

QRs for the PBP

- To qualify for the event, riders have to complete a series of brevet rides, organised across the world under the regulations of Audax Club Parisien, the organisers of PBP. Brevets are long distance cycling events starting from 200 km onwards, with time limits

- Riders have to cover a distance of 1200 km at a stretch and complete the distance within 90 hours with stringent cut-offs in the intermediate segments, like 600 km in 40 hours

- One has to factor in sleep, food, mechanical failures, and other unforeseen incidents on the route, in the given time

- While participants ride in groups, finishing the event relies ultimately on individual pursuit.

- The route includes significant increase in elevation and drop. The total elevation is about 11,566 m, well above Mt Everest!

Meet the cyclists

Chakkravarthy Birur, 51 years

Chakkravarthy, popularly known as Chakra, was a pentathlon athlete in college, before getting preoccupied with his business and family. He started riding in 2012 to keep fit and has not looked back since. He attempted his first brevet in Chennai in 2012 and was instrumental in bringing the brevet events to Coimbatore. He finished the arduous 1000 km ride between Chennai and Vijayawada in 2014 helping him qualify for the 2015 edition of the PBP.

Chakkravarthy Birur

Chakkravarthy Birur  

After quitting the 2015 event midway due to mechanical failure, he is more determined than ever to complete the current edition. He is also a triathlete and is looking forward to finish his first half-Iron man event later this year.

Siva Balaji, 36 years

Siva Balaji

Siva Balaji  

Siva Balaji, a production engineer by profession, had his interest rekindled in cycling in 2017 and has been addicted since. He started riding the brevets and scaled up from 200 km to 1000 km, not just once but five times, within the next two years across South India.

The longest brevet that he has undertaken is the 1200 Km early this year stretching over four days. He occasionally participates in competitive cycling and has won prizes in time trail events and finished third in the Western valley MTB challenge.

Sakthivel Manian, 36 years

Sakthivel Manian, an IT professional, started cycling in 2015 to keep himself fit during his hectic work schedule. He credits his friend Gokul Raju for getting him to take up cycling for fitness and participating in various events. It soon become a passion and unsurprisingly, he got hooked to brevets. He started riding brevets with Coimbatore Cycling and presence of his friends in the group are a constant source of motivation.

Dr Achyuthakrishnan

Dr Achyuthakrishnan  

Dr Achyutha Krishnan, 29 years

Hailing from a family of doctors, Achu took up to cycling during his post-graduation when he started riding with his friends at the We the Chennai Cycling Group (WCCG). A juvenile diabetic, cycling helped him to test his limits and the way beyond it.

Dr Achyuthakrishnan

Dr Achyuthakrishnan  

Since the beginning of this year, he has clocked over 10,000 Km in his bicycle across the South India. Being a Coimbatorean, it goes without saying that he enjoys climbing hills on his bicycle.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 4:02:17 AM |

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