The plan was to do a 160km ride. Bandra > Khopoli > Bandra.
Should have rung warning bells in me. But I'd missed an earlier 100km Populaire, and didn't want to miss this chance for a long ride with other buddies. I didn't want to do my first long ride since my teens all alone. Eventually, I didn't end up doing the Imperial, nor a Metric. But I had fun, and learnt a lot to help me for my next ride.
I'm not much good at describing a ride, but here's how it went.
Started off from home in Andheri at 6:40am, and reached Bandra BKC meetup point around 7:10. Met Amit and a couple of other riders I didn't know. Waited a bit for others to show up. After no one else arrived, off we started at 7:30. Weather was nice and cool, and we hoped it would remain that way. Along the way, we met up with Mehul (Ved) and a friend of his. Just kept going on without stopping, and they did the same. Not much of Sunday morning traffic, and we passed thru' Chembur, Vashi, CBD, etc until we hit Panvel, where we took the first pit stop. Amit said one of the riders had gone off ahead since he didn't want to break his pace. We had done about 40km in 1 1/2 hours. I had a couple of figs, some almonds, an energy bar, a few gulps of Glucon-D (see more on this below) and water.
From Panvel, we took the old Pune highway, NH4. I went off ahead, and maintained a steady pace. Pretty soon, I was on my own, and none of the other riders in sight. Didn't want to break rhythm, so I carried on. Around the 60km mark, I started feeling odd, and slowed down. Left Leg was getting just a wee bit cramped. Eventually, stopped at the 65km mark and put the bike down. Seems like I was bonking !! Walked around a bit to steady myself, as I was seeing stars. Had some water and a little bit more of the Glucon-D (
). This is when I decided to ride what I can, rather than somehow complete the whole Imperial. After about 10 minutes, along came Rafi. He too sat down with me. Seems one of the other riders had a flat, and the rest were trying to help him out. Rafi asked me if I had space in my back pack. Wasn't carrying much in it - a rain jacket, purse, energy bars etc. So I agreed, and added some more weight to the back pack. He was quite persuasive about me completing the whole ride, and after a bit more of rest, off we started again. I should have listened to myself - my body was giving me enough signs.
A couple of kms later, Rafi pulled off, while I maintained my pace. Further down the road is when I first started having serious trouble - and surprisingly enough - it was my Neck. It was aching a lot, and I had to keep moving my head in various directions to keep it from freezing stiff. By now, my legs were feeling alright. Unfortunately, during this stretch, it started pouring. First thing I did was unclip the cyclo-comp, and stash it in my bag. There were no trees or other shelter in immediate sight, and by the time I could get out the rain jacket that I was carrying in my back pack, I was already soaked. Seemed pointless now to wear it. The socks and shoes got drenched, and after a while, I started feeling miserable again, mainly because I was all wet.
Spotted a decent hotel, and stopped there to let the rain subside. Refilled water, and the other bottle too, containing a bit of the Glucon-D. The rain got worse, and I ordered a cup of Tea. After about 30 minutes or so, I saw one of the guys go by. Eventually, one by one, the others went past. The rain was down to a drizzle now. I didn't wan to break their pace, so just let them go by.
Khopoli was still about 15 odd kms away. I decided to turn around from this point. Also, It seemed foolish to try and go back all the way home in my present condition and decided to end the ride at Panvel. So I called up my wife, and and she and my son set off in our Car, to meet me at Panvel. They seemed pleased to have a jolly ride to just come and pick me up.
Except for the soggy shoes, I was feeling quite alright now. Once the rain reduced further, I put in the cyclo-comp again. At several places, the head winds were strong enough to stop bike if I didn't pedal, but luckily, it wasn't continuous. On the way back to Panvel, I took 1 more stop to have some water and rest the legs a bit. Took a wrong turn at the Goa highway junction, and had to re-trace back a couple of km's, before entering Panvel town. And then it really started pouring cats n dogs. The jacket was useful this time.
By the time I reached back the outskirts of Panvel, near McDonalds, it was 12:30 noon. A bit later, my family showed up. Son gorged on a couple of Burgers, while I nibbled on some fries. I hate McD !! Called up Amit and informed him. Loaded up the bike on the roof rack, and off we went home.
The cyclo-comp showed about 83km in around 3h40m, averaging to 23kmph. In addition, I must have done about 7-8km with the comp un-clipped. So, 90km in 4 hours, with about an hour of stoppage time at four places.
On hind sight, I identified a lot of issues I need to take care of.
* The previous night, I didn't eat very well, and also skipped my customary glass of milk.
* Before the ride, I had just a small bowl of corn flakes/milk.
* I used Glucon-D since there were no sachets of Electral in the house. This was a big mistake, since it didn't replenish my salt levels, but instead gave me a temporary boost of energy, followed by a sudden dip.
* My cramps and near-bonk too seemed like the result of poor nutrition, before and during the ride.
* Carrying a back pack was a bad idea. Maybe that's what gave me the stiff neck. I know it's not a bike fit issue, since neither my a$$, shoulders, arms, back, knees or legs complained much. Just the neck. Or maybe I need to exercise/strengthen my neck muscles.
The Bike was awesome. The more I ride it, the more I'm loving it ! It was caked in mud, so the first priority on reaching home was giving it a nice gentle wash and dry routine, before taking a well deserved shower.
PS : If anyone has pointers/tips regarding the Neck issue, do let me know.
PS2 : I know a Century is like a walk in the park for some (many ?) of you. But believe me, once you're on the other side of the Mamil cut-off age, it gets difficult.