After Paris-Brest-Paris 2019 disaster, I decided to go with full preparation for any long-distance adventure. Starting of 2020 was kind of good with the usual TMM and a few other runs and indoor riding. Then, Covid-19 messed up all training but luckily, I had Trainer and a stable version of Zwift on Android just in time. With few ups and down, riding was still on track in 2020 and 2021. After finishing Pune’s 1000 (The Climb da Tashan), I was confident to do the infamous Indore 1200. At the start of January, I got Covid-19 (The Omicron version) and there was no outdoor riding except a few timepass rides. Although, the tough 400 in February gave my confidence back to handle cold and my riding style. So, I registered for BRM 1200 🚴!
BRM was on 19th February and 18th February was our marriage anniversary! We decided to go to Decathlon (not for the celebration of course) and I got a new front light (especially for helmet), spare Bandana, and some random items. After dinner outside, I was able to set up a bike within the time. Route for 1200 was fairly simple. Mulund to Nashik and then to Dhule was well known. I have done many 300s, a 400, and at least 3 600s (4 if you count my DNF one!). Asked Satish (Sharma) and others about route and road condition after Dhule and feedback were good. Despite my usual cool mindset before BRM, I was unable to sleep well at night
The first sign of good luck: Didn’t miss the alarm! 3.30 AM, Sharp!! Shirish and I planned together to reach Mulund. And, for the first time, I reached before the ride briefing started. The advantage of reaching early is – I was able to talk to fellow riders after a long time. BRM started on time at 6 AM. I was going as per plan – slow and steady till 55 Km. The first break was for water and small bites of Bhakhari prepared with love from Koki. After Shahapur, the rolling terrain starts, and my second break was before the famous false Kasara Ghat. I remember that during my first ride to Nashik (2014), I thought this is ‘the Kasara Ghat’ and was very happy once I reached on top of the small climb 😉 92 Km point is my usual break before Ghat because it prepares legs before the long climb and next 2 Km are downhill. The plan for Ghat was to go very easy as the sun started shining in full form. Met Vinay, Bhushan (with whom I rode Malsej 400), and Parag at the toll. We had a number of sugarcane juices. I avoid drinking more than 2 though (Sugarcane!). We decided to ride together till Dhule (300) and the next stop before the Chandwad climb (approx 200). However, Vinay and Parag were trailing (as Parag had a minor mishap on the bike – the infamous rumblers!). Bhushan and I stopped for the lunch and were waiting for them around 185/190 Km.
We decided to start together and again me and Bhushan were a bit ahead and stopped for another dose of Sugarcane juice on the top of Chandwad. After waiting for a while, we took advantage of the downhill and had a smooth ride before Malegaon. Finally, Vinay and Parag were able to catch us and we started riding again. Also met a rider from Malegaon and he suggested having coffee together. It tuned out that the coffee shop was on the other side of the road and it was too boring and dangerous to cross the crazy highway twice. We thanked the rider and started riding bypass of the Malegaon. I warned everyone to not stop at Malegaon as it is famous for curious Cats and Dogs 😀 It was already dark. The plan for dinner was before the control. Our dinner took longer but it was worth having good food before the night halt and roads were unknown after Dhule. We reached Dhule with plenty of time to sleep in hand and Shashi, Xerxis, and Ganesh were already sleeping. Took shower, changed my clothes, and had a really good sleep for 3 hours. I said goodbye to 600’s riders and started the journey towards Indore.
Day 2! What a day it was! When I started, I was alone but determined to start on time. First, I couldn’t find a way to the highway. This was the pure fun part: Riding in an unknown city at midnight and asking a random person – How to go to Indore?! Dogs were friendlier than I expected in the city. Somehow, I found an exit to the main highway by wasting 10 minutes. Roads were good once I was on the main roads and except dogs chasing me silently, ride till 50 Km was smooth. Except for trucks, there weren’t any other vehicles. Found a nice place for tea and took a small break there. Nearby Shirpur, crossed the Tapi river and reached the base of Palasner Ghat in the early morning (6 AM?). The border of Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra was near the climb. First thing first! Breakfast of famous Indori Poha!
After crossing Palasner Ghat, it was nice downhill. While crossing the Narmada river, I remember my wishlist – Narmada Parikramma! This helped me to boost my speed too. Several people were asking me usual questions about where I’m going and where I’m from. The language wasn’t a barrier here and I answered all questions with full detail (without disclosing the price of the bike :P) Next control point was at Hotel Foodie, Dhamnod (486 Km). Our ride official was Kanubhai who was handling dual duty of car and stamping. He stamped my Brevet card. I refilled the water, had a bunch of Bananas, and had a nice breakfast. I resisted myself from the famous Indori Jalebi here! It was already hot, so I dropped my jacket in the drop bag and started onwards journey. Roads were smooth but it was the rolling terrain of Malwa! The two ghats of Gujari-Manpur were steep and risky due to traffic (and probably some work was going on at the top). I got more irritated than tired after crossing both climbs and decided to take multiple breaks. Again, roads were good till Indore. Our next control was at 600, which was at the outskirts of Indore (Shipra to be exact!). By evening, I was already tired due to traffic and the rolling terrain. Reached control of 602 Km at 38 hours. Night halt wasn’t at this control, but it was inside the Indore. I really did a mistake by not taking a night break at 600 control and wasted 30 minutes figuring out – how to reach the night halt hotel and negotiating receptionist for taking my bike into the room. The hotel room was really nice though and the hot water shower helped me to sleep peacefully. But, then riders were starting to arrive and my sleep was in pieces instead of in peace. I decided to take 3 hours of sleep though and started the return journey around 2 AM.
Day 3 was a series of wired mistakes. First, I started at 2 AM alone. Luckily, Ramdas-Lukesh (both are from Nashik) asked me to have some food before I was about to start the ride and it helped me to get some energy. Another mistake was not keeping a bigger power bank in the drop bag of Indore (It was in the Dhule’s drop bag!) Again, it took me some time to exit the city and to reach the bypass of Indore. It was very cold till 6 AM. I was able to cover only 55 Km in 5 hours as I took multiple breaks at various roadside hotels and 2 nap breaks. Just before a few Kms of Dhamnod control, met Ramdas-Lukesh and realized that I was slow already. We started riding together and had breakfast at Dhamdnod, which was a selfie control point. It was 8.30 AM by that time.
We rode together till the border and once again it was too hot with the rolling terrain and the climbing of reverse Plasner Ghat. Due to heat, we spend a good amount of time the lunch and decided to go easy till evening. It was 6 PM, and I was starting to have trouble with keeping pace with them and I decided to go easy (Dhule was approx 40 Km from that point). Ramdas-Lukesh went ahead and I started riding alone and slowly. I think it was sleep deprivation, I started seeing random figures on the road for a while but quick tea helped me. But, before I reach Dhule, I feel like I lost the way despite having straight forward road! The funny thing was – I wasn’t looking at Garmin GPS and was looking at my phone by stopping at every few Km. This drained battery of the phone and I was without a phone! I asked someone and the person told me that Gurudhawara is still 7 Km far. I suspect that he is lying (the mind was playing now!) But, decided to the road ahead and then finally I saw the signboard of Dhule! I still took the wrong flyover and had to ride on the wrong side to reach Gurudhwara. This also wasted 10 minutes! When I reached control, Ramdas-Lukesh along with other riders: Shashi, Xerxis, and Ganesh were about to start riding towards Nashik and the duo was planning to stay in a hotel near Zodge, but I was too tired to ride further and decided to take a night halt there. Nihar, Shirish, and other riders also reached in some time while I was about to sleep.
Finally, the final day! After taking 5 hours in sleep, cleaning, and showering (bathe, to be exact!), I had 21 hours and 302 Km in my hand. The road was well known to me, so I decided to go easy. Although, from Dhule to Chandwad, the road is full of headwinds and rolling terrain. A usual dog chase happened and I had to take a mandatory break at various places. I still don’t understand how can big hotels on the highway not provide breakfast at 7 AM though. Climbing reverse Chandwad Ghat is always fun and I really enjoyed this time as it was daytime! Yay! From Chandwad to Nashik, I decided to go ahead with full speed and had only 1 small break! When I reached control, I had 1 hour spare from Nashik cutoff. Not bad riding, Kartik! It was an unmanned control point, but Kanubhai along with Minesh were there already and helped me to take care of the bike while I had some rest. The plan for onward riding was to go as easy to avoid any cramping to the already fatigued body. The infamous heat of Nashik along the headwinds was playing their parts to slow me down now! I stopped at my usual place for lunch around 2 PM after Nashik. From there to Kasaras, the ride was smooth but slow. Kasara Ghat downhill is no longer fun now due to some fresh nasty rumblers though. I started taking more and more breaks. I found a kitten at Asangoan food place and couldn’t resist feeding biscuits (that was the only thing I could do that time!) After Vasind, traffic started piling up due to road work. The last 30 Km was full of traffic (It was Tuesday evening!) Some really bad patches due to construction and obviously, all other vehicles were trying to push me on the left side! I saw the Thane finally and pushed to the last bit and LBS Road! Crossed Mastermind Cafe and reached BoB ATM (The end control point!) The total time for the ride was 87 hours, 44 minutes, and the distance recorded by Garmin was 1209 Km. Dropped my Brevet card, met Anil, Balasaheb, Mayuri there. Ramdas-Lukesh were already there. I had no energy to lift my bike for a photo, so someone took a normal photo!
I booked an Uber XL taxi and reached home around 11.30 PM. The next day, we celebrated the journey with the cake and the coffee. You can see the leftover piece and the cat in the background below 🐱
Some random pictures from the ride: https://photos.app.goo.gl/kv856t7ikJG1MVkm8