Fitness has always been at the back of my mind since the summer of 2011 when I joined a Gym in Kuwait but never came to the forefront till the summer of 2017. Yes I participated in the Q8 10K Run in November 2013 and also used to walk/jog a lot during the winters in Kuwait; I also had a Cross Trainer and Treadmill at our home there but I was never 100% into the fitness mindset.
It all changed when we moved to Vadodara in June 2017 and I started with “baby steps” as they say in July 2017 with short walks in our apartment complex and when the monsoons started I started going to our common gym and started walking on the treadmill. Soon the walking became faster and turned to jogging by the end of August. Then I started light weights training too to complement all my walking/jogging. I was enjoying my schedule and going to the gym daily.
Then my friend Ashish Luhana introduced me to “Baroda Road Runners” and asked me to come for their Big Run event on 24thSeptember 2017 where I finished a 6.7K road run in decent time . I was quite happy with my performance considering I had done a road run after almost 4 years. I got into road running seriously after this. My target was to run the November 2017 Solefest 10K Run in less than 70 minutes and I started to prepare rigorously towards it. Sameer Gaekwad of BRR suggested me to start some cross-training exercise to improve my running so I started thinking about buying a cycle.
I consulted the most serious Cyclist I know – Vikas Garg who is also a BoPian and has done almost 30,000 kms of Cycle Rides till date! I had a long conversation with him and he suggested me to go for the Firefox Road Runner Pro which is a hybrid as my first cycle. I blindly went with his advice, went to the Firefox Station here in Vadodara and bought the cycle on 2-November. I did my first ride that evening while coming back home which was a 9.1K Ride and since then have been cycling regularly averaging almost 3 times a week along with road running thrice a week. Both these fitness activities are complementing each other perfectly and that’s the reason I have improved my endurance and fitness tremendously in the last 5 months. I recently ran my fastest 10K in 61 minutes and hope to crack the under-60 minutes mark soon.
Till date I have cycled 1,395 kms over 49 rides and I find it unbelievable considering I sat on a cycle after 22 years! The last I cycled was in Class 10th when I used to cycle to school. I love exploring various parts in and around Vadodara on my Firefox and am absolutely loving it.
My longest ride till date has been 63 kms long and I had plans to finish my first 100K ride in January but I got busy in travelling and motorcycling so moved my target to February. And it finally happened yesterday!
The plans for this 100K ride were made on the Baroda Cyclist Club WhatsApp Group and I was all excited to achieve the first big target of my Cycling Journey .
The 100K Cycle Ride ||| Sunday 11-February-2018
I cleaned my cycle, got my water bottles & hydration bag filled, packed 2 Tartare Dip sandwiches and Parle G biscuits and got my entire gear ready a night before. The excitement was palpable and I had an uneven sleep which wasn’t a good thing to happen. I woke up at 4 AM and left home at 4:50 AM after completing all the preparations.
My 100k ride comrades were Sijjin, Vasudev and Krishna Kanth. Our target destination was the revered Nareshwar Dham located on the Narmada Riverside, some 55 kms from my home. I met Sijjin at the BRC Circle and started our ride at exact 5 AM. We were joined by Vasu and KK at Por after riding for some 27 kms. The weather was quite chilly and perfect to chomp up kms after kms before the dreaded heat could engulf us. Soon we left NH48 and started riding on a village road leading to our destination. Beautiful trees lined up the entire road and we spotted a lot of egrets and other birds too.
We also crossed a caravan of Bullock Carts with villagers all covered up due to the cold, it was a beautiful sight indeed.
We ran into a train crossing some time later and I saw a narrow gauge train here in Vadodara for the first time. The train stopped at the Ganpatpura Station which gave us enough time to quickly cross over.
We stopped for a Tea Break after riding for some 40-odd kms. I got my sandwiches out and we all enjoyed our mini-breakfast with multiple cups of fabulous tea. I removed my helmet & headband and Sijjin spotted Steam emitting from my head which was funny indeed, I asked him to make a video for memories sake. I call it a Head Sauna!
We also clicked the first Group Selfie of our ride at the Tea Stall.
The SunRise view was mighty beautiful and we stopped to gaze and enjoy it. The pattern within the sun was open to one’s imagination! I thought it was a wolf while someone thought it was a goat! It was gorgeous nonetheless even without those wild imaginative animals!
The day was out and while riding, I spotted a beautiful stretch of road approaching with trees lined up perfectly on both sides of the road which meant I had to stop to get one of my favourite Cycle pose – My Firefox parked in the middle of the road!
We finally reached our destination – Nareshwar at 8:15 AM. I had cycled 55K and was on track to finish my target. The Narmada Riverside view was beautiful and we took our cycles right till the boat boarding point to document our memories of that day.
I was sweating profusely so washed my head and face with the river water which had the perfect temperature to cool me down.
KK suggested a new type of pose to me and I duly obliged! It became the signature pose of this ride. Thanks to KK for this fabulous idea. This was the perfect opportunity to get all kinds of fun poses before the boat was about to come from the other side of the river.
We also got our cycle formation group pose photograph clicked by a gentleman who was more than eager to help us out.
After all that reverie, time was ripe for our real breakfast of the day. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast of fresh Bhajiya served with onions, green chillies and Kadhi. I washed it down with Tea and the Amul Cold Coffee which I had packed. The perfect combination of piping hot and cold!
We started our ride back at exact 9:30 AM and aimed to reach the starting point by 2 PM considering it was getting hotter and we knew our return would be slower than the first half.
But God was very kind on us and ensured that the sky turned cloudy, hiding the Sun and getting us the much-needed respite from riding in direct sunlight.
We rode for 30 kms finishing the village road stretch in less than 80 minutes. Sijjin was the fastest amongst us on his swanky brand new Fuji road bike and was waiting for the rest of us at a Sugarcane Juice cart. What better drink to enjoy than my favourite after riding for 30 kms non-stop! I gulped down 2 glasses of it rehydrating myself perfectly.
God’s kindness was somewhat over though. It got very sunny when we hit the highway but thankfully it wasn’t painfully hot and the blessings of Che was always with me. We maintained a decent speed riding in a formation with Sijjin leading our pack.
We finally stopped 2 kms before the Makarpura entry point on the highway and clicked our last group selfie as KK & Vasu had to go towards Ajwa.
By the time I reached the starting point at BRC Crossing, I was feeling completely drained out but still was on a high after finishing my target of 100K without any mishaps. I clicked our last selfie and then finished the last 2 kms in super quick time.
My biggest motivation during the last 15K was Abhay and I was just imagining hugging him tightly once I reached home. This pushed me to cycle hard and not give up. And that’s exactly what I did once I got back.
I was completely drenched due to all the sweat but thankfully there isn’t much pollution here so there wasn’t much grime on my face. I took a long hot bath and came out feeling absolutely fresh and surprisingly without much fatigue!
My Firefox performed brilliantly and I am thankful to Vikas Bhai for recommending me this particular model. I hope to continue cycling on it regularly and with focus. Yes, I don’t park my Firefox in the building’s common parking area, I carry it everytime to our 1st floor apartment and it stays in our living room with us!
I drank a total of 5 litres water, 2 glasses of sugarcane juice and 1 glass of Neebu paani yesterday ensuring no dehydration affects me. The ride statistics were quite satisfying and inspirational for me! I was able to manage an average speed of 20+ kmph which I felt is quite decent for a novice cyclist like me.
I took a break today and my body has recovered completely now. I would be going for a road run tomorrow morning and would be back on the cycle saddle day after tomorrow.
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…