From zilch to hills - 27 months, countless experiences
? An evening chat with Kirti somewhere in February of 2017, had me think about giving cycling a try. No particular reason but maybe to just break the monotony. He focused on doing long, fast rides - while I was lured with venturing into farms, villages and unexplored places in the neighborhood as they were not motorable or too far to venture on foot. The mobile cam kept clicking every ride like a movie.. but Kirti - he kept his patience :)
Wasn t long and I was riding approx 20 kms a day - mostly on the same route near my neighbor hood. The smell of morning bakery approx 10 kms from my house kept me redoing the same route over and over again. I remember after 12 kms I used to sit at a bus stand, letch at my bike, read morning news on my phone and sip water - a kind of me time in the morning which was so bliss. Moving on got introduced to Saksham race, some other races on the GFR and some cyclothons - began getting participant medals and going bezerk on social media (I still do) with those :)
The first 60 kms, first 100 kms were like getting into the best college kind of feeling. On top of this world! The first tour was to Lucknow in September 2017 - approx 500 kms with the aim of meeting the top brass to get cycling infrastructure worked upon for the larger community. Well we couldn't move the babudom or the politico brass a single inch, but we did manage to move the best of kebabs and delicacies down the long path from our mouth to our stomachs. Bliss it was. Soon I got my road bicycle to complement the MTB.
Folks had begun questioning the rationale of my riding, the why part and also suggestive of why I should not be riding solo at times or long etc. Crazy as it seemed, all this fueled me further. The solo Amritsar and back ride for 1068 kms was named Mission Unreasonable not by chance but to pass on a message by it's name. One of the best experiences in travel was this ride - from pain, friendship, culture, food, endurance and what not - was crazy fun. Few hill rides in Sattal and Bir Billing consolidated my belief that this passion is here to stay and here to challenge my self even more.
Had begun hearing the term 'brevet' now quite often from riders and wondered what fun can it be to not spend time per one's wish but just rush to beat the clock. Avoided any brevet for long hence... till it was March 2018 and just got irrational to decide open my brevet journey with one of the allegedly toughest brevets around that time - a 1200 kms Noida to Jammu and back. As expected it was something I wasn't ready at all in terms of preparation, strategy or even stamina but somehow the mind never gave up. Carried too much baggage on my bike, had not the right food throughout and well was plain super slow and zero in discipline. Managed to somehow do it with 15 minutes to spare of the 90 allotted. The biggest learning was to get into discipline and not take things for granted. Well suddenly brevets seemed so much fun! The learning from the champions riding along, the organizers, the support from mentors and motivators in many people kept me going. My mom Urmila Gupta has been the biggest support so far worrying and supporting me in equal degree - we fight at times on my madness but then somehow balance it out :)?
The Delhi - Mumbai 1400 km cyclothon with Rotary club and more madness in the hills with super inclines has kept me excited.
PBP 2019 (1251 kms)- the one most recent which I didn't finish? in time but made sure I didn't quit either. With staggering 30+ hours over time limit of 84 hours, it became an ordeal - but one I'm very happy about - more at tinyurl com/anupampbp2019
2 000+ accounted kms & 27 months later - couple of Super Randronneur titles (One SR is for doing 1500 kms (600, 400, 300, 200) total in a season of Nov - Oct) - that evening chat with Kirti seems like yesterday and at times seems like decades ago. And the story has just begun..
Post PBP 2019 it's running that has attracted me and it's getting addictive.
The Why? - It's different for everyone and honestly it's not a question one needs to have answer for all the time. You feel like it you do it - as simple. I didn't begin cycling for health or SR title etc, I began doing it as I like exploring and being near to nature - the fringe benefits of better performance, better health follow. You don't have to work for these if you love being on the saddle (or any physical workout) - the benefits come auto.