My First Century Ride – A Relook – 3 Years Hence..

It has been exactly 3 years since that fateful day when I bought a cycle, naively thinking that I would just use to commute to office. Little did I know, how things will change. I’m re-living the initial days by documenting here a few articles I wrote during my initial days of cycling. I’ve posted these first on Bikeszone


It was Friday the 2nd Jan 2009. Combined with the hangover of the New Year celebrations of the previous day and the usual Friday blues (I bet who ever coined the phrase “Thank God It’s Friday!” was in similar mood), completed the work in office early and flew home on my Hawk by 6pm. It was time to play with my kid. He welcomes me with that gorgeous smile of his. I guess children instinctively know how to charm you.

There was a call from Krish that I could not take at around 7pm. I called him back before going to sleep around 9:30 pm. He was asking if I had any ride plans for this weekend. I had none and told him that I am game for one if he had any. He called me back around ten and confirmed the plan for ride on the next morning. We agreed to meet at Nizampet cross roads at 5:30am the next morning to ride towards Vikarabad. The plan is to complete minimum100 km overall and more if possible; what ever we can manage before 1 or 2pm. 2pm that was the deadline. The sanction from the home ministry only afforded that much time for the fun ride. 🙂

I went out at 10pm to Spencer’s across the road to buy some fuel for the ride. They were in the process of shutting down for the day. I sneaked in to buy some bananas, dates and a pack of brown bread. Set the alarm for 4:15am and hit the sack. Like a kid who tends to wake up early on a school holiday, I woke up around 4am well before the alarm.

Got freshened up and started filling up my back pack. A dozen bananas and the dates packet went in along with a couple of freshly made tomato carrot sandwiches. Put in a one liter water bottle on either side of the backpack and filled up one for the bottle holder on the bike. The water bottles and bananas made the backpack quite heavy. By the time I got the set up ready it was already 5:20am. The sandwiches ate away most of the time that I thought of using for a bit of warm up stretches (Suryanamaskara). So, I had to do away with the Suryanamaskara, put my shoes on and move on. I heeded Krish’s advice on beating the cold by wearing a jerkin and scarf.

The air pressure in my tires was low. I observed that even on my commute on Friday and but thought I would fill them up on Saturday. That was to be proved a mistake in retrospect. It was too late in the night to find any cycle shops open when we decided to ride and too early in the morning for them to open. I’ve to ride like that. I called Krish at 5:27am and informed that I am starting and will be there at the designated place in 10 minutes. As estimated, I reached there in ten minutes and by then I began to sweat. The scarf and the jerkin began to feel unnecessary already. I waited for Krish and he reached there after a couple of minutes. He arrived looking like a pro with the helmet, gloves, head light and tail lamp.

The ride:

We started out at 5:40am. The visibility was not that great on the JNTU-Hitech City route and the shadows from the trees/plants in the divider added to the confusion, making out any potholes impossible. So, I let Krish take the lead as his headlight would help a bit. By the time we crossed the Hitech railway station, I’ve decided to relegate my jerkin and scarf to the backpack as the sweat was getting very uncomfortable. Krish was kind enough to take the bananas into his backpack.

We rode via Botanical gardens to reach HCU. The visibility improved a lot as we rode through HCU and went past Gopannapalle. Nearly one and half hour into the ride we took our first break drinking some water and eating a banana each. There was a young couple jogging on that road who inquired if we were cycling to Sankarapalle and Krish replied that we may ride up to Vikarabad. The route was so beautiful and it was no wonder that the couple drove to Gandipet in their car from somewhere in the city and took to jogging in that route targeting around 10km. We thought that it would not be a bad idea to cycle up to this point, chain the cycle to some tree and start jogging. It would be an excellent route if we were to prepare for triathlon or 10k-half/full marathon. Even there is a king size swimming pool by the name Osmansagar to swim in although it is not entirely safe. 😀

Krish took out his camera and we started out after clicking a few snaps. The road was in pretty good shape. After a few kilometers, Krish spotted a couple of peacocks at gate of what appeared to be a small farm house and stopped to photograph them. By the time we turned back and he took the camera out, they moved well into the trees and our first attempt at wildlife photography was a disaster. There were many fields on both sides of the road. The cotton balls here and there on the edges of the road suggested the main crop around these areas is Cotton although a bit of Sunflower is found in patches among others.

The weather was beautiful and the lack of much traffic movement on the road was encouraging to say the least. Ideal cycling conditions I would say. We took another break before Sankarapalle and it was time for some water, a couple of bananas and some dates each. As we rode past Sankarapalle, we looked for a cycle shop so that I can get some more pressure in my tires. It was around 9 and no luck yet. We turned towards Vikarabad but the prospects of reaching there looked bleak as the time to turn back drew nearer. We decided that we need to turn back around 9:45 or 10am to be able to be back home in time.

Around the time when Krish’s cyclo-comp was showing around 55km or so, there was a steep gradient that we had to deal with. I was so tired by that time that I thought I could hardly move any further let alone tackle steep climb. Krish was attacking it and I got down the bike and took a breather right in the middle of the climb. A minute and a breather later, I was standing up and attacking the climb. Once done though, I just prayed that there are no more such climbs on the route. Thankfully there were none so steep although the entire route was never flat.

As we rode on and as the sun began to shine gently, the view kept getting better. Krish decided that he has to give his wildlife photographic skills another chance. The result was a nicely panned shot of a woodpecker cutely perched on a road side rock and some other shots of a road side hut. All the intermittent stops were spoiling the rhythm but we could hardly give the beauty around a miss. The milestone on the road read ‘Vikarabad 15km’.

We rode another kilometer or so to reach Nawabpet. We found a cycle shop there and immediately stopped to fill my tires up. Although the tire pressure was not dangerously low, it was definitely low enough to bring in considerable rolling resistance. On a long trip for a first timer that meant a lot of tired muscles. After the tire pressure is increased, I can feel my Hawk moving much smoother. The cyclo-comp was reading 65 point something now and this was a good 5 km more than my previous best. It was already 9:45am. We decided we would turn back from here. That meant that we would complete 130km and I would be doing more than double my previous best.

The guys at the cycle shop were curious about our bikes and gears on them. When we told them that we were riding from Hyderabad and started at 5:30am their mouths were agape for a while. I am now getting used to these questions and the surprised reactions which I am sure are pretty common for many riders on the forum. We found a medical shop where we bought some ORS (he didn’t have Electral that Krish wanted to buy) and the guy was also kind enough to refill our bottles with fresh water. We sat there and ate half of the sandwich each. It was 10 am and time to head back home.

The weather surprisingly was still good. The sun was shining bright and there was a cool breeze going around. Around half an hour into the ride we stopped again and Krish got his lens out drawing attention of a couple of kids and a bullock cart driver. They interviewed him a little and they let him go only after he satisfied them with a couple of snaps along side the bullock cart.

We moved on and we came across a down hill stretch. That was an exhilarating ride down hill. We just flew down the hill. Excellent feeling that! Since my childhood, from time to time, I fly in my dreams. The feeling that I have when I am flying in my dreams was pretty much similar to what it felt like when I was racing down that hill. Yeeehaaaa!!! It was the same stretch that almost defeated me when I was climbing. I guess what goes up has to come down (Stock market!!??).

We rode through Sankarapalle and stopped at its outskirts around 11:15am. As I washed my face I was wondering if I was using the ORS mixed water bottle by mistake as the water was very salty. I double checked by pouring the water directly into mouth. It was fresh water alright. It was just my sweat as it is being washed that I tasted. Hehe.. But washing the face up helped a bit. Some dates and a gulp of water later we were on our way again.

Around 12:30pm we stopped for some tender coconut water just after ISB. By that time the reading was 103km and it was my first century. Time to celebrate!! Not just yet! Have to reach home first and then may be celebrate with a big lunch I thought. The kid there was already friends with Krish as he let him try his Firfox Target on one of his previous rides. He now wanted to try my bike but the height of the saddle and bike discouraged him from doing so. So, he tried Krish’s bike once again and was appreciative of its smooth gearing etc.

We made one last stop after a few kilometers again as Krish felt hungry. We stopped at a small kirana shop and had a couple of biscuits each and I finished the remaining sandwich. Krish made a call home as I rested my butt on the shop floor. It was 1pm nearly 7 and half hours into our ride. Some 20km more to reach home. I was going through the motions counting down every passing minute and every passing mile stone. I found myself pushing hard only to see my self in a high gear; I thought I was just tired. I changed into a lower gear and trailed Krish who pretty much lead all the way through.

We reached HCU at around 1:30pm and had to part ways from there. I decided to take the Lingampally-Chandanagar-Miyapur route while Krish wanted to go the same way we came that morning to avoid traffic. I pedaled silently (but the left pedal is still not silent. It wont stop creaking!!) and reached home at 2:05pm. Yeah!! Time to celebrate!!! I took a hot shower and ate the dal chaval heartily and sat contended sharing the experience with my mom and wife.

Here are the few snaps from my phone. Will share more when Krish uploads his photos.

Ride Stats:

Start Time: 5:27 am (5:40am for Krish)
End Time: 2:05 pm (2:20pm for Krish)
Distance: 130km (133km for Krish)
Riding time: 7hr:20min approx
Total Time: 8hr:40min approx
Max Speed: 45.5kmph
Avg Speed: 19 kmph approx

Post Ride Effects:

I have pain in the right knee. I think I’ve stressed the outer knee muscles(I think its called the Quadricep tendon) in the right leg out of shape or something. I thought that the pain is normal and would go away but it did not. I have managed the commute to work on Monday and Tuesday with some difficulty. I remember having pushed hard in the onwards journey due to less tire pressure and I’ve stood and attacked the climbs in parts of the ride. May be I pushed using the right leg more and did not balance the effort on both legs. I am just trying to figure it out.

It’s not serious but I did not expect it to last this long. Although I climbed the six floors to my office and 3 floors to my flat a couple of times yesterday like every day, I gave the stairs a miss after seeing that the pain did not go away even today. Let’s see how it fares. I am using more of my left leg and trying to rest the right one on my commutes. The pain is there only when I am using the stairs or pedaling. I can walk on flat surfaces with out any problem. I hope it settles down before 17th this month. I am planning to join a group of Hyd Cyclists on a cycling trip to Nagarjuna Sagar. It is around 250km to and fro over two days.

The Present:
That was how my first century ride went nearly three years ago. There were many century rides that followed but this one is etched in the memory and is always special. The journey over the last three years has been a fruitful one. 
Cycling has helped me see many places and helped me make many good friends. It has helped me in my continuing fight with weight. This year I’ve completed 10,000 km of cycling so far. Yesterday(Oct 23rd) marked 3rd anniversary of my cycling journey. Incidentally that was marked by my fastest 100km ride which I completed in 3hr 11mins 40secs. 
I’ve never thought of any such milestones when I started three years back. All I wanted to do was combine exercise with my daily commute by doing it on a cycle. That was my plan to keep off the flab that I worked hard to lose. It not only helped me with that, but also helped me lose 10 more kilos recently. Thank god, cycling happened in my life! I wish that it would continue to get better like this in the years to come. 

More in this ‘Relook-3 Years Hence’ series. 
My first ride on my Hawk.
My first commute.
My first long ride.

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