Featured Comments Off on Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 2 |

Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 2

Deepthi Velkur continues her conversation with Naveen John about his training and his move to competitive cycling in the second part of the story. 

If you haven’t read the first part then click here 

When did you move from being a recreational cyclist to a competitive cyclist?

It was a couple of years after I picked up collegiate cycling. My friends convinced me to sign up for a race and I went full on – got myself a bike, some racing gear and showed up for the race and I finished the race.

During my time racing in the US, it was never competitive. I just went out there to ride and have fun. I enjoyed the training, being part of the racing action and never went in with the mentality of winning. In 2012, when I came back to India, it all changed. I felt like I was on a mission and I decided – I want to try and be the best.

You’re a 3-time Indian Time-Trial (ITT) champion and the country’s first International pro-cyclist? What does it take for someone to achieve this?

Oh! I get asked this question a lot. Every time at the national championships, I have kids come up and ask – what must I do to become a national champion?

My response is simple – ride your age X 10,000 KM and you will give yourself a shot at becoming a national champion.

Not many like that response because it puts the onus back on them. In India, cyclists are just not doing enough work compared to cyclists abroad. I realized this for myself when in 2016 I was in Australia where I rode with a professional team and saw 18-year kids train so much more than I did. It got me thinking, “Am I putting in the kilometres”?

It’s a paradigm shift that we need here in India where the athletes need to put in a lot more work. A few years ago, you did not have to work too hard to become a national champion. If your closest competitor was doing 8,000 KM at the age of 23-24, you only need 9,000 KM to beat him. Today, however, you need at least 25,000 KM to beat me (kinda cheeky, since I lost my National title this year despite that, but always “long game”).

It’s true that the infrastructural challenges we have in our country can be blamed for the bar being so low in our sport but at the base of it – practice, kilometres in the legs and hours spent on the pedals are key.

Do you take assistance from a Coach to train yourself for nationals?

I started off on my own in 2013. I self-coached trying to figure out the answers along the way but I fell short and ended up in 4th place. One of the team supporters then recommended I get a coach.

Getting a coach can be quite a daunting proposition – all of a sudden, you are accountable to someone else and constantly graded. The thought of putting your physical readiness in someone else’s hand is quite a leap.

Fears aside, I started working with my first coach in 2014 and that changed my life and introduced me to a whole new world of scientific training. I’m a pretty adept self-learner and as I was being coached, I also upped my level of understanding of the human body, sport science and training. I have since moved on to my 2nd coach who is based out of Australia.

Training in cycling is a very objective process and working with a coach who guides your physical progression can free up time to work on other areas of improvement that you constantly need to as an athlete. So far, cyclists in India have always moaned about a lack of good coaches but that scenario is changing today.

Our concluding part can be read here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 1 |

Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 1

Deepthi Velkur in a three-part series has a conversation with a pro-cyclist and 4 time National Champion, Naveen John.

Naveen John has many firsts to his name as pro-cyclist. Apart from being a 4-time national champion, he was one of the first 2 Indians at the World Championships and the first Indian with a podium finish at a European event in competitive road cycling. In this conversation, he takes us through his journey so far.

So, Naveen, how did you get into cycling?

Well, about 10 years ago, during my first year in college, I had an experience that changed my outlook on the way I lived. I had just moved away from home for the first time and you know, the stress of having to make new friends, adjust to a new place and all took its toll and my weight ballooned to 98 kgs (Freshman 15 effect I guess!).

It was Thanksgiving and I was at a friend’s place when we decided to play a game of basketball. You know you’re so out of shape when your opponents are running circles around you. I was left panting and breathless at the end of it.

That was my wake-up call – I had to do something about it. I took up running (and a change in my eating habits!) with the sole focus on getting healthy. The consistency paid off and I lost 15kgs in 3 months. While pursuing my Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, I was introduced to collegiate cycling. It was a life changing experience for me – I made friends for life! They also happened to be a bunch of cyclists who loved racing and doing weekend road trips. I enjoyed the social aspect of the rides and that got me hooked to cycling.

During the four years of your college, you clocked 15-20,000 km each year. That’s an astounding number. How did you make time?

One of the advantages of studying in the US is that you have a good balance between studies and time for yourself. That extra time gave me the freedom to pursue what I enjoyed at that time – cycling. It was a fun way to catch up with friends, stay fit and meet other passionate cyclists along the way.

You signed up for a 120-mile ride which was your first big ride. Can you tell us a little about it?

It all happened by accident, to be honest. I went to a callout (at the start of each semester, clubs pitch for students to join their club) for “Habitat for Humanity” but ended up in the wrong room and without realizing it, I signed up to do a 120-mile charity ride. When I did realize, it blew my socks off because until then, I had never done more than 10 miles at a time.

The race for me was eventful. It was my first time on a road bike and when warming up, I got knocked down by a bus. The bruises and cuts could not take away my spirit and I decided that I still want to do the ride.

Unfortunately, I did not finish the ride but the whole experience had me captivated. It made me realize that there is more to life than just running from one air-conditioned room to another. I looked around and saw all these people enjoy the ride, the outdoors and that clung to me – I wanted a piece of the outdoor life too!

Your decision to move back to India in 2012 was largely influenced by cycling. What encouraged you to make the switch and why Bangalore?

I had to consider my options given I was choosing to not complete my masters in the US and find a job which would have been the ideal way to go.

Around the time, I was considering this decision, the cycling eco-system in India was fairly nascent. There were about 200-400 racers across the country and Bangalore was at the heart of it. There was already a system in place at federation-level, state-level selection trials and national championships. I looked up some data on the CFI website and figured that I was at par with these guys and in some cases faster. I then began to do a few checks to evaluate the decision I was about to take.

  • Did I have the physical ability to do what it takes to succeed?
  • Was there an eco-system and community to support me just like I had in the US? I stumbled upon the Bangalore cycling community via blogs written by Bikey Venky and other local bike shops – this gave me a glimmer of hope.
  • What was the state of Indian competitive cycling in terms of people involved outside of the federation systems? We all hear the usual narrative of sporting infrastructure in India – blame the federation, blame the system and the athletes absolve themselves of all responsibility, but they were some folks attempting new things.

I started looking around if there were people who were actively trying to change the scenario in India and I came across cycling IQ.com and an individual who plays an important role in Indian cycling – Venkatesh Shivarama (Venky).  Venky along with Vivek Radhakrishnan were the founders of Kynkyny Wheelsports Cycling team, the first professional cycling team in India with the aim of competing at the international stage.

I took a shot and sent them a message that I’m an active cyclist and looking to return to India but the enthusiasm was met with measured advise that I’d be better off pursuing the sport outside India for the moment. Despite that, a month later, I landed in India and just showed up. They were surprised and asked me, “so you where the guy who messaged us, why did you come here and not stayed in the US and raced there”.

I could have if I wanted to but I had other plans – I was looking for signs of life, looking for people with the mindset of “be the change” vs following the herd and aspirations of one day perhaps becoming a national champion.

Before I chose which city in India, I did the usual checklist – how will I make rent? How will I make a living? How will I contribute and add value? Bangalore made perfect sense given that I had family here and it had a strong cycling community.

In the next part, we will continue to hear about his journey to the National Championship.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Riding with Bikey Venky |

Riding with Bikey Venky

Venkateswara Rao Navanasi or Bikey Venky as he is popularly known talks about his journey from cyclist to blogger to mentor with Deepthi Velkur.

Venkateswara Rao Navanasi’s giant leaps in the cycling world are more than just being inspirational. They are an adventure that he has been conquering the miles along with his demons makes for a story that you must read.

Cycling has become an integral part of your life, but it was never always the case. How did it all happen?

For starters, I wasn’t the most healthy person out there. I was 20 kilos overweight and suffered from frequent asthma and bronchitis attacks.

In February 2008, months before I was due to become a father, I realized my unhealthy lifestyle could be a bad example for my child. That thought triggered an immediate action and my unborn child served as the motivation for me to live a healthier lifestyle.

Over the next 8 months, I lost 16 kilos by doing 2 things –eating healthier and working out for an hour every day. In October 2008 with the idea of including a workout routine into my daily commute, I picked up a cycle. I commuted 14KM a day and that slowly transformed into longer rides over the weekend. The spirit of freedom had me hooked and without even knowing it, cycling changed my life.

From being a recreational cyclist, you transitioned to road racing. That’s a big leap – what drove you to it?

It’s a funny story – I never imagined racing and always thought it was for professionals.

In December 2010, having just moved to Bangalore, I went to watch a BBCh (Bangalore Bicycling Championships) ITT race in Sarjapur and sat there in wide-eyed wonder as I watched the fancy bikes zoom past. 9 months later, while watching another BBCh race, this time it was the Team Time Trial (TTT), the organizers announced that those who had no teams but were interested in racing could take part in the Individual Time Trials (ITT). I pedalled up to the start line with my fixed gear bike and completed the 20KM race averaging a speed of 33KMPH. Later that evening I was surprised when a friend of mine (Brijesh Nair) called me and said that I had won the race and he collected my medal. It was my first ever medal in life! Later in 2011, when I took part in the Tour of Nilgiris (TFN), I got hooked to racing and the endorphin rush I experience is what brings me back.

You look forward to the Tour of Nilgiris (TFN) every year? Why is it so close to your heart?

TFN came into existence around the same time I started cycling. The TFN started off as a fun ride but turned into an organized race in December 2008.

In 2008, while researching for a new bike on an online forum (Bikeszone), I happened to stumble upon TFN and was fascinated to read about the experiences of the riders. I followed the tour closely and during a TFN after-party, I caught up with a few riders and listening to their stories first hand solidified my resolve to take part in it one day. When my registration for the 2011 event was accepted I was both elated and scared at the same time. The scale of what I was about to attempt dawned on me and I used the nervousness inside of me to inspire me to do well.

To prepare, apart from my daily commute, I started riding for 50KM twice during the week and even longer on weekends. In the 6 months leading up to TFN, I did about 10,000KM and lost 12 kilos.

In my first TFN race, I secured the 11th position out of 90 riders from across the world. I was ecstatic and believed that I was cut out from something more than just being a recreational cyclist. The high it gave me changed my life as a cyclist forever. During the TFN, I had the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and the camaraderie shared lives with me till today. To me, TFN is special because it challenges me as a rider and of course the views are to die for.

Having raced in multiple events – which race format do you find the most challenging?

My favorite disciple is the ITT and I do share a love-hate relationship with it. It is a race that is called the “race of truth” and rightfully so – it’s just you and your bike going head-on with the elements and the clock.

The ITT is challenging because when you are in the flow, you feel ecstatic but when your mind starts playing up, it is rather an agonizing experience. This year in March, I clocked my personal best average speed of 43kmph for the 33.5km course and the ITT format really helps you gauge your progress.

You seem to love writing as much as you like cycling. What does your blog (www.bvcoaching.in/blog) focus on mainly?

Well, I love riding, writing out my ride reports and sharing them through Bikeszone and my own blog. I always try and share them on race day itself as it’s all fresh in my mind. My blog mainly covers race reports for now, but I intend to publish posts on training and nutrition that could help others in the riding community.

How did the initiative of starting your own racing calendar called BAR (Bangalore Amateur Racing) come about? How many races does it feature in a year?

I have participated in all BBCH races since 2012. It’s a great platform to keep riders motivated, train and stay in shape through the year. The BBCH organizes road and MTB races during alternate months which meant that for us road racers, we had to wait for 2 months between races. Definitely not ideal and we figured we needed more races and that’s how a few of us at Spectrum came up with an idea of starting a new series.

My friend, Venkatachalam from Cleated Warriors team and I went about executing our idea and the first race we organized was a 24KM ITT on 21st July 2013. With the help of stop watches, laptops we ensured the results were released immediately on completion of the race. Our focus is to keep it simple, reduce overheads and organize races at regular intervals. On an average, we do about 10 races per year and charge INR 50 per race per participant.

How and when did your association with spectrum racing start?

In 2011 when I started watching races, I came across this energetic bunch of riders from a team called ‘Spectrum Racing’ and I have also seen them on my regular riding routes. They were a huge inspiration to me in the way that they rode together. Several times I did try keeping pace with them but couldn’t. After several months of riding, I eventually managed to keep up with them and rode most of the tour with them. They were quite impressed with me as I managed to complete the tour with a fixed gear bike and offered for me to join their team.

During this time, I was associated with another team ‘Veloscope’ so getting such an invite is tantamount to poaching in the corporate world. Nevertheless, I was excited at the opportunity, so I consulted my friend Brijesh Nair who set up Veloscope and he encouraged me to go for it. I joined Spectrum Racing in January 2012.

What lead you to start your own coaching site(www.bvcoaching.in)? How does this work?

I have always enjoyed reading, finding new ways to improve myself and sharing knowledge. I used to ride with and mentor a few youngsters and in the process, I shared regular feedback, helped them with race preparations and this became a learning ground for all of us. I enjoyed the process and it helped me develop as well.

Through my blog (www.bvcoaching.in/blog), I had quite a few people asking me questions about training for BBCH, TFN, etc. and I took the opportunity to help in any way I could. For some who wanted more specific advice, I devised training plans for them.

In 2016, I stumbled upon a tool that made training plans and interaction between coaches and trainees easier, but it was fairly expensive. I then decided to start charging for my services and my existing clients were happy with the arrangement and that’s how www.bvcoaching.in started on 1st May 2016.

All the training plans were customized and accessible via the app or website. The trainees could upload their workouts online where I would analyze progress and provide feedback. Communication was predominantly via the tool and emails, but the evaluation was done via phone and Skype. This model enables me to work with athletes from across the globe.

Tour de Friendship 2017 was your first race on the international Platform? How did it go?

My skipper at Spectrum Racing, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, signed me up for the race in 2017 and took care of all logistics as he wanted me to experience racing at a different level.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t do justice to the faith he had in me. I went into the race not being at the top of my game and with a tough cycling field and difficult route, it made for a disappointing race. On the bright side, that race opened my mind to newer challenges and I decided to compete in one international race every year.

With the experience you had at Tour De Friendship, how differently did you handle your next race – the Tour De Bintan?

I went into the Tour De Bintan in possibly the best shape I could be at that time. I trained with a coach for over 5 months leading up to the event. I was better prepared and gave a good account of myself.  The race was a 3-day event with an ITT on the first day, a 140km road race on the second and a 100km road race on the 3rd day in the beautiful Indonesian Resort Island called Bintan. The races are well organized and the first two races act as qualifiers for UCI Grandfondo series finals in the age category.

You had to qualify in the top 20% in your age category (40-44) for the UCI Masters Grandfondo series World Championships? Did you manage to meet your target?

Although I was better prepared, I was still quite a way off the top 20% of the field. I finished just outside the top 20% but overall was a great experience. I came back knowing exactly what I needed to work on to do better the next time I’m there which will be in 2020.

What are the major differences you see racing in India vs overseas?

The level of racing overseas is so high that it can be disheartening as well as inspiring. Most of the riders in the age categories 40-44 and 50-54 have been riding all their life and are way faster than any of us. In India, most of us start quite late in life and it might take us several years to get there but I believe it is possible to be competitive by putting in a lot of work.

The races overseas are meticulously planned, organized well and the level of support received from local authorities is amazing. In India, I have seen such planning in events like the Tour of Glory and Tour of Nilgiris (TFN).

How would you rate your performance over the years?

Overall, fairly satisfying. I won the TFN in Masters category in 2015 and 2016 and this year has been very good. I participated in 10-12 races and won 4 of them.

What races have you planned for 2019?

For 2019, my big goal is Giro De Dolomitti (GDD) in the Italian Alps. It is quite similar to the TFN but on a larger scale. Apart from that, I plan to attend the Tour of Glory, 2Go Masters Championships, BBCH, BAR races and TFN.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Health Benefits of Regular cycling |

Health Benefits of Regular cycling

They say you can never forget to ride a cycle, so maybe now is the time to hop on and see the benefits that regular cycling has on your overall health says Deepthi Velkur

We often hear people making excuses for not finding time to indulge in some form of physical activity or they find themselves too tired to move a muscle after a hard day’s work, but, we often forget the benefits of performing a regular physical activity. Doing something physical keeps us active and reduces the risk of developing a serious health condition associated with our sedentary lifestyles. There are many ways to improve our lifestyle, but nothing can beat cycling.

Cycling is a low-impact exercise which is healthy, fun and enjoyable for people of all age groups. It makes for a fun group activity to do with friends and family and really helps spend quality time with them.

Taking your bicycle to work (big dependency on traffic and weather here!) or even to the store close by is an excellent way of building a regular exercise routine into your daily routine and it helps the environment too!

Riding a bicycle every day can turn the wheel of our lives for the better. How you ask? Read on to know more:

Improves your cardiovascular function: Cycling being an aerobic activity makes your heart, lungs and blood vessels to work out as well. Regular cycling helps bring down your blood pressure, lowers your calorie count limiting your chance of being overweight and increases the heart rate thereby pumping blood to the rest of the body.

Promotes weight-loss and tones the muscle:Cycling is an effective routine to do if you want to lose weight. It helps burn calories and works on multiple muscle groups such as quads, hamstrings, calves, biceps, glutes, shoulders, and back muscles. The number of calories you burn during a cycling activity ranges from 400 – 1000/per hour depending on the intensity with which you ride. So, in addition to losing fat, you will also tone your muscles.

Improved Posture:When we cycle, we end up doing a lot of balancing without even being aware of it. This balancing act helps improve our posture, develop better full -body coordination and strengthens our upper body muscles.

Reduced Stress: Any form of physical exercise brings down your stress and so does cycling. It keeps your mind healthy, helps to introspect your problems with a calm mind and you feel less helpless in dealing with your problems.

Improved mental well-being: Any aerobic activity releases endorphins and the adrenaline rush uplifts your mood making you have a happier outlook on life, boosts confidence that comes from accomplishing new goals you set for yourself.

You sleep better: Cycling boosts your sleep quality and is especially effective for those suffering from insomnia. Try riding a bike in the evenings as this is known to help you sleep better. However, you can also ride in the morning as it will keep you active through the day and help you fall asleep quicker at night.

Kind to the environment: Riding a cycle doesn’t require you to burn fuel – you protect the environment by decreasing pollution and lowering the demand for fuel. World over, several countries are encouraging their citizens to ride to and from work or school. It is definitely a healthy and sustainable option.

As a child, most of us would get out on our cycles and feel the road flying beneath our wheels; it reminds us of a feeling of freedom and release. That doesn’t get old. It’s still there. Riding around corners and whizzing past with the wind in your face makes you feel like a kid again.

So, there you have it – researchers have me convinced that cycling will add days to my life, and the child inside me has learned that it adds life to my days. Both are valuable lessons.

So, let’s all keep moving and keep discovering.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

Read more

Training Comments Off on How do you train for a long-distance cycle ride |

How do you train for a long-distance cycle ride

There’s little that can beat the beautiful simplicity of a bike ride but you need to prepare well so you have a stress-free ride says Deepthi Velkur .  

A good long ride with the fading sun warming your back and the cool wind in your face is probably one of the most gratifying cycling experiences there is.

Amateur and relatively seasoned cyclists alike, dream big of achieving the “century ride”- a distance of 160.9km (or 100 miles). There is nothing quite like the feeling you experience riding through the most scenic locations on two wheels. Despite the tired legs and weary back, you put in that little extra to discover new lanes, explore new places and create new memories on each ride.

As you start preparing for that long-distance ride, I would like to put out a couple of words of caution –be prepared!

Any such endeavour requires you to have great stamina, thorough planning, and strong mental courage. This can be achieved through high-level endurance training (core, flexibility, and muscular strength) as well as building your aerobic and lactic acid capacity that will help tackle those long gruesome rides effectively.

I have a few simple suggestions that will be of help to make the most of your rides.

Set clear goals:I have mentioned this is in several of my articles and I cannot stress the point enough – setting small and realistic milestones always comes in handy in achieving your end goal. It is equally important to re-visit your goals every few weeks and make alterations till you achieve what you’ve set out for.

Training week: For endurance cycling, building your base fitness is important. Your training regimen should include interval training two to three times a week, strength building exercises every other day and stretching post training to improve flexibility and stiffness.

Build your aerobic threshold by going on long rides at a steady and low-intensity pace twice a week. Going the distance is all about endurance and that is in finding an optimal pace – keep your threshold level at approximately 75% of your maximum heart rate. Invest in a good heart rate monitor to get a more precise reading. 

Beat bonking: Start with a good breakfast that includes lots of carbs and less protein especially on training or event days. Carry enough food and water with you on your ride and adjust your intake of food depending on how far out you plan to ride.Eat that little something one hour into your ride and every 30-45mins thereafter. Refueling with a drink or meal containing 1:4 ratio of protein to carbs will speed up recovery by quickly replenishing glycogen stores to avoid the dreaded bonk.

A pair of good padded shorts:  Cycling is fairly a low-intense sport and over the course of 80, 95, 160 kms it is not that your legs will tire out but you will begin to feel every bump on the way through your neck, shoulders, hand, and butt. Investing in a good pair of shorts with lots of padding and by changing your posture and position every now and then, helps relieve you of aches and pains in certain areas of the body. 

Mind over matter:Unfortunately, it is our mind that usually gives up first. Imagine how frustrating it is when you have been riding for a while and covered 1\4thof the distance. Fear not, train well and push negative thoughts away – just focus on the ride ahead. Going on long rides work best with a group of friends as you tend to go faster, conserve energy and focus better.

Divide the distance by two: No matter what distance you’re aiming at covering, the best approach is to divide the distance as two halves. The first half is usually easy and will seem like your spinning along while the second half will have your muscles working hard. During this half, please do not forget to refuel when required. Push yourself harder this time to achieve the best results. 

Watch the winds and foresee trouble: Winds can favor your ride or work against you. If you start out with a tailwind, roll easy and you’ll face with the headwind on your way home. When riding in a group, stay together during headwind stretches as each of you can take turns at the front sheltering the ones behind. Carrying emergency gear on your ride comes handy if you need to fix anything on your bike.

Adding a few of these tips in your preparation will bolster the training and help you achieve a comfortable, satisfying ride. Have fun! 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Worst Mistakes to make during a Ride |

Worst Mistakes to make during a Ride

Be it an amateur or a seasoned cyclist, there is a lot to bear in mind before you start out on your cycle ride, writes Deepthi Velkur.

While riding a cycle might seem simple, it can get complicated and dangerous as you cover more distance\terrains on the ride. Here are a few simple fixes to make your ride safe and enjoyable.

Saddle height

To get the right placement of the saddle during a cycle ride, ensure the saddle is at your hip crest. Adjust the seat accordingly to keep it pointing straight and not tilted up or down. While on the saddle, you should comfortably reach the handlebars and toes touching the ground on both sides.

Carry spares or tools

Before you take off on a cycle ride, it’s essential to do a pre-ride inspection and carry along minimum equipment such as Tyre levers, mini pump, spare tubes, patches(instant stick on type), and multi-tool with chain link extractor.

Fueling your ride

Do not wait until a point where your body is completely drained of energy. Drink every 20mins or so throughout the cycle ride to ensure your constantly fueled. Don’t eat\ drink too much as you end up feeling sick. Plan well ahead to have food\drink in reserve and fuel yourself regularly so you don’t run the risk of bonking.

Over gearing

Gears improve the efficiency of power over different terrains. Maintain a cadence of 70-90rpm on flat roads. Shift to easier gears for climbs and harder gears for going downhill. Riding in a higher gear with low cadence uses fast twitch muscles that make your muscle fibre tire out easily. If your off on a long cycle ride, using a lower gear with higher cadence activates the lower twitch muscles which is more beneficial and promotes greater endurance.

Riding too far, too soon

Aiming high is good but knowing your ability and riding within those limits is important. Don’t blow your confidence by riding too much too soon. Steady and consistent training is where you find yourself progressing forward than hammering it from the start.

Poor bike maintenance

Doing regular checks on the cycle is a good practice. Pay attention to brakes, handlebars, gears, and tyres. Regular cleaning of the bike and lubricating of the chain is a must. Also, servicing at regular intervals keeps the bike in excellent condition.

Suitable Clothing

Before you start your cycle ride, check the weather forecast for the entire duration of your ride. In cold weather conditions, layering up helps you to stay warm. Dress light with just a pair of shorts and a shirt in humid\warm conditions. Do carry a windproof\waterproof layer at all times as it will come of use in hilly terrains with a drastic change in elevation and rain storms.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on The Accidental Cyclist |

The Accidental Cyclist

Our Guest Columnist, Super Randonneur Satheesh Tawker talks about his motivation to keep bettering the quality of every ride.

My entry into cycling was accidental. I had gone to my cousin’s home and saw my nephew’s cycle gathering dust and casually asked him if I could borrow it. He immediately obliged and there started my cycling journey. Cycling is something that I feel gives me my space and “me” time during the solo rides that I do. The other motivation is that I like to test myself on my endurance levels with each event and see how far I can go. This has pushed me to better myself as a cyclist with each challenge I take up. Recently I completed my second 200 km and 300 km events, having done similar events in 2017. Each ride is different when it comes to experience and to put it simply I would call each ride nothing short of awesome.

Training for a ride

Having started in such a casual manner, I have never formally trained or followed a specific schedule to get better at my passion. I have always worked out to stay fit, first at The Unit and now with the Quad. Being fit and strong overall has helped with cycling as well. Nutrition is something that I have started focusing on in the last two months with a specific focus on the quantity of food I eat and the balance between proteins and carbs in every meal. My nutritionist gets a daily food log of everything I eat – down to the last morsel and suggests changes to the same. Being conscious has helped me drop about 6 kgs in the last two months with little effort. Before that I was a believer in the statement that I have worked out today so I am entitled to eat what I want. I don’t think I will propagate that philosophy anymore.

On becoming a Super Randonneur

Recently, I have earned the title of Super Randonneur. This title is bestowed to a rider who completes a series of brevets ( 200, 300, 400, and 600 KM) in the same year. Each ride has a specific time frame for completion and the rider has to complete the ride within this stipulated time. There are various control points during each ride and rider has to reach all control points within the stipulated time frames.

I became aware of such a challenge only after a year of cycling. When I learnt the details I was excited and wanted to get that title. I rode regularly and covered at least 40 to 50 km on alternate days and a minimum 100km on weekends. Fitness levels were taken care of as I used to workout in a boot camp three days a week. I also took training at ProBikers for basic repairs such as changing tyres and tubes of my cycle and addressing minor issues that could happen during the ride. The clincher was me being able to find a riding partner who matched my wavelength and my pace and we have partnered for all the rides. We used to do a recce of the route a week before to figure out places to eat, rest, etc and planned the ride well in advance, taking into account the chances of unforeseen incidents that could occur. It would suffice to say it was a lot of planning, a perfect riding partner, sleep management, mind over body, hydration, nutrition and enjoying the ride, that mattered more than the outcome of the race. This attitude helped me become a Super Randonneur today.

My next Big Challenge
My target for this year is to complete a 1000km ride.  The mind over body and sleep management part will definitely play a big role . In all probability its unlikely I will not find a partner for the ride and that would mean riding alone for the entire stretch which will be tough. So currently I am doing a lot of solo riding to get used to that possibility. Hopefully, should be able to make it .

What keeps me going?

I believe that nothing is impossible. When I did my first ride never did I imagine I would come so far in my cycling journey! Ability to manage challenges on your own , learning that beyond a point it’s mind over body, learning to trust yourself, being aware of your limits, trusting your ride partner, taking it one km at a time and to keep pushing no matter what are some of the lessons I have learnt which is applicable even in my day to day life. The family, especially the wife reacted really bad to my cycling. She was convinced that endurance was not my game and I should stick to 100km max. I had to get a full physical done ,multiple cardiologist opinions to certify that I am fit, in order to get her approval for my 600km last year. Despite that she was present at the halfway point to see for herself whether I was fine . She still disapproves of my long rides but with less force than what it was before.

I had tried my hand at running and did a 10km run but running does not give me a high as cycling does . But then have my eyes set on a full marathon in the next one year. I enjoy scuba diving if you would call that an endurance sport and have dived in many locations across the world with my son.

A word for Newbie Riders

For a Newbie I would advise them to take it in stages starting with small rides and gradually increasing the distance and getting to understand how their body responds to various ride conditions and speeds. A good night’s sleep is a must. They would also need to focus on their fitness levels if they plan to do consistent long rides. I have always tried to be helpful to other riders in the group and have always helped and guided anyone who asks for it. There are professional coaches for riders who want to up their game.

Being consistent is the most important thing for riding and if you are consistent then nothing can stop you from achieving the impossible.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

A banker by profession who recently quit the corporate world to appreciate life a bit more.Scuba diving and the outdoors are where he feels at home if he isn’t cycling.

 

Read more

Gear Comments Off on Top Habits that Ruin your Ride |

Top Habits that Ruin your Ride

You can ruin your cycle quickly if you cannot get rid of these bad cycling habits, says Nandini Reddy.

A great ride is what every cyclist enjoys. But the great ride means maintaining your cycle constantly. There are many bad habits that can ruin your cycle. A good cycle is a great companion but you might be ruining it because of these habits.

Lazy Bike Maintenance – Everything matters in terms of bike maintenance. Tire pressure, greasing your sprockets and tightness of the gears. If you are a regular rider then it is best to have a maintenance check every month. A well-maintained bike and a neglected bike can be the difference between the crash. Find a proper cycle service that understands your kind of bike. Not every mechanic may be appropriate so its best to go with the experts to ensure longer life of your cycle.

Being too competitive – When you are cycling in a group, you always have that one guy who seems to glide through the distance and is always ahead of the pack. I am sure you would have tried to catch up with him constantly. Riding itself is a great challenge and you need to find your own pace. Its fine to be competitive but in a smart way. If you start over-stressing yourself, you might only pay attention to covering the distance and not other factors that might lead to a crash.

Vetting Trails – Trail riding is the hardest on your ride. If you are attempting a new trail and ensure that you have an experienced cyclist with you. If not then do a reconnaissance of the route ahead. If you go in unprepared then you might end up busting your tyres. Also note that you need to have cellular signal if you need to call for help or at least now the closest point from which you can call for help if required.

Inadequate Nutrition – Eating and drinking during a ride is as important as your pedaling. If fatigue sets in, it can lead to cramps and dizziness which means you can crash. You cannot right with a severe headaches so remember to eat well before the ride and also carry along energy boosters.

Riding without a warm-up – Never start fast right away, you need to warm up your body and slowly set into the pace otherwise you may not be able to complete your race. It might seem easy to ride fast in the beginning when you are fresh but you cannot keep up the pace through the course.

Carry spares – It is important to be equipped with spares for mid-course repairs. Learn simple repairs like fixing tyres, it might be the one thing that saves you during a long distance ride. Remember you cannot complete races with wrecked parts.

Remember to double check everything before a ride. You need to enjoy a ride and not feel agitated by it so its best to get rid of all these habits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Share the Road |

Share the Road

Cyclists and Runners constantly face the problem of vehicles disregarding their space, so how do we learn to share the road asks Nandini Reddy.

Civic agencies around the world have demarcated roads with special lanes for cyclists and runners. If you are in Chennai you would have seen the green square and boards urging you to give room to the cyclists. The world standard for motorists is to maintain 400m distance from cyclists when they spot them on the road but how many of us really respect that rule or show consideration to runners and cyclists who are cruising along the roads.

While the worldwide Share the Road campaign has entered its 10th year, in India we still struggle to make people understand why runners and cyclists deserve their big of space on the road. If you have ever tried you have been most probably met with remarks about why runners should stick to parks or cyclists should be on trails. But as a motorist you are responsible for sharing your space with to others on the road.

Why walk, run or cycle?

All over the world people are choosing to walk or cycle to their destinations. Here are a few reasons why?

  • Most use them as a short distance transport till they can reach the public transport hubs.
  • They seem to be faster mode in densely clogged roads
  • More environment friendly
  • Healthier mode of transport
  • Cheaper and more economical mode of transport

If we see walkers, runners of cyclists on the road it is the responsibility of the motorist also to ensure their safety.

How can we Share the Road?

If you want to Share the Road then you need a change of attitude towards pedestrians, runners and cyclists first, so in order to achieve the change we need to

  • Treat cyclists as we do other vehicle drivers
  • Be aware that there are specialized lanes for their safety
  • Do not pass too closely to them
  • Check all your mirrors before turning so that you do not hit cyclists
  • Slow down when they are moving across the road

In general the idea is to be aware and cautious that there are all forms of traffic human and vehicular on the road and they all have equal rights.

Responsibility of Runners and Cyclists

As much as the onus is on the motorists to ensure that they give adequate respect to the space of cyclists and runners, equal caution must be exercised by them also. As a runner or cyclists you need to

  • Respect traffic signals and road marking
  • Be attentive while on the road
  • Do not listen to music on high volume
  • Cyclists should not ride on pavements
  • Cross the roads at designation spaces and when it is safe

The idea is to build a vibrant community that is active and in order to do so it is important that we include all forms of transportation and vehicles.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

Read more