Why should you cycle 500km and torture yourself ?

To self obsess over an awesome facebook profile picture !

IMG_5710

hahahaha.. kidding.. read on..

” I don’t even know if that is possible by me. I’ve done a 100km ride earlier but 500km ? Sounds mad ! “

was my first reaction when Ankeet told me this event called KC500 was happening and a bunch of psychos were planning to ride from Chennai to Kodaikanal.

But considering my ego ( If someone else can, I can ) and my need to do crazy things, I decided to go and see what it feels like!

Day1 : 140km from Chennai to Pondicherry

The ride started off beautifully from a school in Chennai that we were going to help build by raising money through the event. It felt really nice to be in a professional cyclist attire with cameras flashing all around!

Karun Chandok, the person who organized this event had ensured that we get enough media attention – NDTV, Local Newspapers and Sports Illustrated magazine 🙂

press

    Indian Express, Chennai

I thought the entire ride was going to be as nice as it started, until after about half an hour later when I found myself alone and separated from the rest of the group. And for the next 4 days it was mostly me, the cycle, the scorching tamil nadu sun, the support cars to give me my energy supplies and villagers screaming at my sight.

I didn’t know it was going to be such a self party !

30km later I hit the first pit stop where I finally caught up with all my buddies. I was thinking of all the reasons I could give for being slow (Stomach upset, not a regualr cyclist, I’m riding a horrible hybrid bike while most of you are on a road bike etc etc) but then I thought to myself :

“Everybody has their own problems and pain. Some people don’t have arms/legs and they still do insane stuff ! It’s about not giving up and having the will to do it even if you are in pain. “

So I decided to just shut up and continue riding.

There is a threshold point after which people start to get tired. Being a newbie cyclist, this happened to me after around 80km on the first day. This is when your body wants to give up, you start to lose energy quickly, you start counting every milestone, and you just want to reach the destination. Basically, this is when you start getting mind fucked. Your body just doesn’t want to do it any more and it starts to put negative thoughts in your head. You start to get grumpy, curse people on the road for cutting you off and you start wondering :

“Why the hell am I even doing this  ?”.

pee

Here’s one of those moments. Me and Leslie got so pissed that there was so much more left to ride, we decided to pee on this milestone to take out our frustration 🙂

This is when you are most vulnerable to quitting. And this is when you shouldn’t be quitting. I guess that’s what endurance is. That’s what I thought and kept going until I reached. After reaching I was zonked out of mind. I hadn’t really taken care of my body. I had a stomach upset and a headache and all I could eat was curd rice. (even though a wonderful buffet was arranged for all the riders ).

The next day, I was going to eat well and drink lots of water on the ride.

Lesson from Day1 :

“Your body is like an engine. You’ve got to take care of it and tune it. Then there’s no limit to what it can achieve”

Day2 : 180km from Pondicherry to Madhurai

After the 140km ride, I prepared myself mentally for this one. And I was going to be careful with my intake of fluids and food. You need to give your body clean, good fuel and it performs brilliantly. I kept eating dry fruits continuously, ate bananas, drank water, ate oranges and tied a packet of grapes to my cycle to munch from.

I reached the destination quite late and was again alone most of the ride. But this time I wasn’t tired and I finished quite comfortably compared to the previous day.

I began to sense a pattern here.

Everything is as hard as you make it out to be. A few days before the ride I didn’t think I could do more than 100km. In 2 days, I had finished 320km. And on the second day, even though the distance was much longer, I finished it with relative ease compared to the first day because I was mentally prepared.

This made me realise almost everything is in the mind. During all those times when you feel like quitting, if you push your mind a little harder, the pain just goes away and you can just keep on pushing. And trust me once you go beyond this point, you can do much much more than what you think you are capable off. There is no limit to how much you can go. 

So there goes lesson from Day2 :

“Everything is in the mind”

Day3 – 110km from Thanjavur to Karaikudi.

After 2 long rides, this was supposed to be the easiest day and everyone seemed to be laughing about the distance. But surprisingly 2 people quit on this day. Again, I guess it is about mental preparedness. Always be prepared for more ! Because every time, it didn’t really matter what the distance was but the last 10km was really painful. This meant that my mind was prepared for that much distance so every extra mile would seem very painful.

The next time I was not going to hope for anything less. That way I wouldn’t think about the end and I would finish more easily.

 Day4 – 76km ride from Madhurai to Kodaikanal (3000m elevation – worth mentioning 🙂 )

By this day, I had learnt a lot and was kind of prepared for anything. So I sped upto the foothills of Kodaikanal and started my climb to the top.

All I could think about was the after party. And to enjoy it completely, I would have to finish it without sitting in the car. I knew one thing. The party in the end is not the same if you quit. There is nothing to party about! And after 3 days of struggling there was no way I was going to quit.

I must confess it was really really hard climbing the steep roads. But after really pushing it from 8 in the morning till 6 30 in the evening, I finally made it to the top without sitting in the support car even once.

All the pain, all the grumpyness magically got converted into a deep sense of satisfaction. And everything felt like it was worth it.

Lesson ?

“When you want to achieve something, it could be anything, you reach this time when you think it’s pointless, it’s too hard and it feels like it’s meaningless and you just want to give up and chill out. But this is when you need to keep pushing it. The more you struggle, the sweeter success tastes when you achieve it. And that’s what this ride taught me.”

Original music : Believe by Chemical Brothers.