Friday, December 4, 2015

Tour of Deccan 2015: Cycling Expedition with hidden Gems and Challenges.

Tour of Deccan 2015:  Cycling Expedition with hidden Gems and Challenges.

It was that time of the year when finally I needed a vacation. And How cool would it be for just the girls chilling on the beaches of Goa and let their hair down to down some sun downers. Only the way I decided to be there was to go cycling . It sounded like a dream, the dream that needed to be realised. It was not going to be easy as I never do any cardio as part of my workout schedule due to the intensity of my strength training workouts, and the limited time due to work, but then nothing is impossible is what I told myself. Also I was the same person that had done Manali –Leh –Khardungla in July 2014 in same physical condition, which was at 18000 ft above sea level. This was Aapla Maharashtra, at sea level and I was sure I could do it (that’s what the organizers too assured me of). I had my doubts as the distances we were supposed to ride were extremely long, but now I had dived into it,and had decided to give it my best . Only time would tell if I could finish it or not. I was on an work assignment in Africa for 10 days right before the ride. Here I tried my hand at a cycle. I covered around 80kms in 8 days with Mark Griffiths an awesome cyclists who helped me with this. His advice to me was "Jui Keep those legs Moving" .Feeling slightly confident and a lot apprehensive of what was to come my way! 550Kms in 5 days!!!

Day 1:20th Nov 2015  Pune mahad 120kms
 Day one started with me landing from Africa and going straight to Pune from where we were supposed to start the ride. Billa no 13 was the badge no given to me , for my cycle, bags n tags, at the lifecycle store ,Tilak road, Pune. A scary looking  route map with 120 kms to be covered and a huge incline to be gained was handed out to us.Though fatigued through the travel, the excitement kept me going and once the flag off was done with the tradional Ganesh aarti the crew of 35 people started wheeling towards Mahad. Cycling through the city was a bit boring but as we hit the highway and turned towards Bhor my pace started picking up. Inclines after Inclines were conquered happily , post breakfast was the deadly Varandha Ghat where all cyclist had to keep pushing the pedal with just one thought in the mind that this ghat was to be followed by  a beautiful decent flowing into the last flat road 15 kms into Mahad. The beauty of the backwaters and the ghat was mesmerizing,but by now the sun had worked its way into torturing me and I was feeling its wrath , killing each km was an effort now and still seeing inclines coming our way was a clear bummer . Just when the legs were giving up  peddling through this unending ghat, I found the ghat finally ending and  the lovely descent waiting for me . It was my turn to enjoy the roller coaster going down and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Getting towards the flats and scoring my pace really well by now. , But after many pedals and a few more kilometers covered ,legs were tired , body was fatigued and sun was not showing any mercy. The last few Kilometers were a killer but a long distance athlete has to win over this to finally make it to the destination and I knew it. Killing one kilometer at a time I finally entered Mahad only to take a wrong turn and ended up cycling another 10kms. At this point of time it was torturer in its purest form. I had a feeling of Friday(day of the ride) the 13(my badge no) had some part to play in this . I Couldn't see any markings for TOD(Tour Of Deccan, the roads used t be marked for the crew), the villagers didn’t know anything, the police vehicle refused to help. I was irritated, panicking and losing my temper by now. Finally two sweet village boys helped me back to the crew base.  130kms had been covered with tempers being cooled off by Nachiket Joshi ,my group leader  with yummy chicken kebabs and lovely lime soda.
Villager who was  amused ,Im not sure of weather it was me cycling through Varandha Ghat or clicking that selfie

Day 2: 21st Nov 2015. Mahad to Guhagar 105kms
It was a new day, and I had to leave the bad experience of getting lost behind and take on the craaaaaaazzzzyy challenging route Mahad to Guhagar. The route map given to us the night prior so scary, that I was not sure if I should stare at it or hide it away( why did I think this ride was gonna be easy?) we had to cover 105kms through these inclines. Guess what, the start itself of this awfully tough ride started with an huge incline to be covered . The only way forward was to keep kicking at the pedal.The sun was out and about  at torturing us again, only today it was at its peak much earlier at 9am itself and I could feel the heat seeping into me . I started feeling faint and I knew dehydration is taking its toll. Immediately added salt to my water stores and kept pedaling .  There were no clouds for cover, no tree for shelter, miles and miles of inclines with dry grass fields on both sides9wow they looked so beautiful, Golden, in its full glory).The only reprieve were my crew mates that were inching further killing each km with their determination.When u see team like that, its contagious. You encourage others and in return take their spirit to move on. This went on till the mid afternoon till we saw our ferry ride. Oh yes the beautiful ferry ride, the ride that was gonna relieve us from the blazing sun, the steep inclines and the cycle seat which by now had seemingly started feeling like a sharp object than a padded soft gel seat. I don’t know when was I so excited to see a ferry! Maybe when I was a baby , maybe for the first time in my life, now.The ferry spot was full of yummy foods stalls.My friends had some missal paav and famous fanas/jackfruit ice cream, and the chaas(buttermilk) was  to die for , I downed some yummy glasses of chaas, and rested my sore butt on the ferry seat for some selfies. It was as 10 minute ride and I felt rejuvenated again, only to see a wall like road ahead of us to be cleared. I couldn’t believe my luck, when my cycle started giving issues with the gears , and then the chain coming off over and over again, to top my woes. Once the issue settled after lot of time lapse and irritation, I was picking up speed again and was now eager to make it to the destination, Guhagar. The closer the destination would come the harder it would get to peddle, switch had to be made from physical to mental .But legs had to keep moving. Finally Day 2 was done with a lot of effort ,and an invite by a lovely beach, white soft sands,little shells sprinkled all over , kids playing in the water, some stalls selling the corn on the cob.The sun that had tortured us was setting, getting ready to do its job for the
Ferry Ride Happy Face
next day to come and so was I.

Day 3: 22nd November 2015 Guhagar To Pawas 95Kms
I was handed the route map and the thought that crossed my mind was , “where the hell have all these inclines come in Maharashtra? And how the hell this seemingly easy ride at the sea level is getting difficult each day?” It dawned on to me finally, that there was not going to be a day without the ghats and it was not gonna get any spirits started to dive down just then I see  my crew setting up for the new day .I brushed away all my doubts from the mind taking their spirit,assuring  myself to take this one day and give it all I have to this ride. Fatigued body was screaming for rest, but it was a  new day,  a new mind set- to finish this days ride all the way. The flag off was done at 5.30am. The body was crying of soreness, right hand fingers were numb, the butt couldn’t bear the thought of resting on the seats, but  the resolved crew and me were making war calls of“ Har har Mahadev” so loud as if we wanted to drown all the negativity and  start off the ride to finish it .  The ride started off with the incline , showing us that the mountains are always stronger than our voices. You shout, you scream, you hit back at them, but they are unmoved standing there, firmly challenging your resolve, challenging your capabilities. The route was not just difficult but time bound. We had to get through the first 50kms by 8.15am to get to the ferry of the day or miss it! Tired or not tired we had to keep up a certain pace or then be swept(Put into backup vehicles).I kept the pace on  with ease in the beginning, but it started to get tougher, me doubting if I would make it,but not letting my legs stop.I was finally relieved to make it on time to get into the ferry, after all that effort put into it and not being swept..  Post this whole frenzy (keep the effort and keep pushing on the incline , keep the pace on, with the fear of being swept looming over you) nothing could compare to those relaxed 10 mins on the deck of the  ferry ride with the happy crew faces that had made in time for the ferry .Post the ferry ,the cycle ride felt seemingly easy with no time limits. Riding through enjoying a few kilometers of this ride I saw a few friends waiting at a bend of a narrow windy road of a village, to take me for the beach ride. Once I took that turn beautiful Untouched pristine white sand infinite beach unfolded  itself, waiting for us to ride on the silver clear sand,I could see my reflection in this clear wet sand! Go all the way in the water,ride on the ripples of the sand and water. walking into an infinite sea is one thing, riding into it is another!It was an out of the world experience. Laughter and excited sounds filled the air; no amount of money can buy you the feeling of getting to ride your bike at such a lovely place in the middle of nowhere. Fully charged with laughter, selfies and more I started to ride on again. The happy feeling lasted just for a while, as the inclines were snarling up in front of me one after another, the sun burning not just your skin but the resolve as well, my numb fingers were trying to gear up the faulty bike (Its a complete different story to ride a faulty bike where you don’t get to the gears that are comfortable for the particular terrain) and just when I was in tears and completely defeated by my bike a seasoned cyclist Udayan Walvekar (this guy would reach 3 hours before me to the destination ,and I hated him, in an inspirational way of course, he’s an awesome rider ) passed me on an incline and shouted “Jui just use your palms to change those faulty gears, and just hit it” That worked so well , I pushed those faulty stuck up unmoving gears into its place and peddled right through the top. One thing going on in my mind as a Mantra used to be “One peddle, one incline, one kilometer.” I covered a lot of distance here, only for my cycle chain to slip off and get so badly stuck into the wheels that the cycle just stopped moving, right at 1kms before the destination village arrived. I couldn’t believe that after this whole ordeal my bike had to give up just a km away!!!!! But I was in no mood of giving up here and kept on working at the chain with my numb right had fingers, where my bike finally started moving. The chain was still not in place and a fellow crew member finally held on to my water bag and pulled me up over an incline and let the cycle roll-on the decent. I must mention here this fellow was just 16 year old kid named Jatin Jetani and I was so happy to see chivalry and willingness to help still not gone into the books of Once upon a time! Jatin and me made our way to Pawas as one team. Jatin could’ve reached an hour before me if he had not stopped to help me and I kept wondering how beautiful this world still is with people like this and we still have hope of being humans, and meeting humans.
Cant explain in words

Day 4:
Pawas to Mitbav -110kms
From my fingers going numb to my palms going numb my right hand had almost gone useless. I could grip the cycle handle , but changing gears, opening zips of my bags, lifting objects was out of my control. Thankfully my cycle was changed and I was given a different cycle. With so much trouble on the bike for last three days I didn’t have much hope for another rented bike.Thankfully this bike was working well. The good bike didn’t change the fear of the deadly route map for Paawas to Mitbav though . The inclines we staring at me in my Face through the route map itself and I knew it’s going to be a tough day with body giving up even without being on the cycle. Normal tasks like packing bags and filling water bottles had started feeling cumbersome , but I had to tell myself that “ So what if it’s not easy Im gonna hit it back hard.”The morning started by riding through lovely lazy fishing villages, pretty bridges lacing the creeks, waving goodbyes to little kids, I could keep my spirits up and peddle through the tough terrain due to these lovely sights. The sun had not forgotten to rise though and now had started to show its ugly side. It had taken its job to challenge me quite seriously. I wasn’t sure if I’m burning, melting or exploding or drying up and crumbling. At this point my body and mind just shut off and it was time to get under a tree put the bike aside and lay down, forgetting about the rest of the ride. I really didn’t care about anything at that point. All I wanted to do was lay there and chill. The mind was numb too. I just lay under a mango tree and enjoyed that moment of stillness.  I lost track of time till I saw another crew member joining me, and relaxing. We both decided to get up and  start the ride again . Today was particularly a hard day for me, it so difficult that at the times I wanted to  give up, but would keep telling myself to go on and finish the ride of the day that I had started. While you ride at your own pace mostly you end up riding alone, you become your own motivator, I found my mantra again ,to keep going “one pedal,one incline one kilometer," that’s how I had covered the distance till now and that’s how I was going to finish it.  It was a good thought to finish the last 20 killer kms .  I finally reached Mitbav. A few days later, back home I got a chance to watch Creed the movie,where Rocky trains “Hollywood Creed”  to go” One Step, One Punch, One round.” I was so happy to relate to this rule in every aspect of my fitness regime as taught to me by my metor Kaizzad Capadia and coming from Rocky Balboa, made  it sound super cool . The kind of expletives that were going on in the mind while finishing the last 20kms,along with all this self motivation, less said the better. Mitbav had a lovely untouched beach, white sand softer than the bed, waves beckoning and inviting you into its arms, sun melting into the sky making a lovely art piece. I couldn't believethat the same sun that I have hated during the ride was making me fall in love.  It seemed like  the sun was making a statement and questioning me at the same time . It said to me , “I  do what I do”, leaving a question for me to answer “Are you going to do what u ought to do?

Day 5 :  24th November 2015 Mitbav to Madrem 105kms
Fatigue had taken over. Yes the sunset was beautiful, and had made its point, but my mind was still split into two . One saying “come-on do the ride”, the other the loudest voice saying, “ No need to get on to this ride, just sit back and forget about the ride”. The mind was pulling me towards not doing the ride   until a crew member and my childhood friend Paree lalsare(another cool rider) came along and said “Jui if you don’t finish this you will regret it forever” her words stuck with me and all other voices drowned . I resolved to get on the bike , while  I felt like I was breaking inside with fully fatigued system. I couldn’t find my pace nor strength. I kept pushing ,not thinking how much more for the final destination. The flag off was done at 6am , it was 9am now,time for the sun to head up and crush me down. But guess what? I think that melting sun and I did have a heart to heart and I was indeed given a  beautiful cloud covered weather. My pace picked up a bit, a few villages and iced lime drinks later  my pace kept getting better and better. The final leg of the ride was done in high spirits with cloud covered sky and a new good bike. I peddled with all my might for the last 10kms enjoying the actual ride, not caring how more , how far or how many inclines. I was not just closing the ride that had made me  meet, face and conquer challenges .

But I had achieved far more than just that.I had my  foot prints and Tyre marks  on the beautiful untouched beaches . I had conversations with the Nature & myself. My relief sighs were heard by the  bridges that would  announce the arrival of the village along with cold water and iced lime drinks . Lazy villages woken up by so many cyclist swishing through the windy roads, the tall palms asking me to chill , the mango orchards offering their shelter and the lovely golden grass spread over acres tempting with its beautiful sights to be appreciated in that rugged weather.  I had an opportunity to ride with the  Crew that had an undying spirit. The spirit that rubbed on to each n every one of us to make this ride possible. I saw Happy faces of the villagers that tells us so much about our frowning faces most of the times. Sometimes you need a long ride like this to realize small things in life. I completed the challenge , I had fulfilled the challenge I had given myself,made new friends, found new inspirations.
 Some of this can be expressed in words and some remain unsaid and still more beautiful , for each one of you to experience it on its own.
This ride was in no way easier than Manali Leh Khardungla. Basically there is no comparison between the two and each ride should be treated with its own respect and loved for its own beautiful journeys it takes you through. This ride is dedicated to all of these sights and experiences that don’t just make a ride worthwhile but even life worth living.

Bridges lacing the creeks
Road markings generally done for directions but these added to some fun

Ferry Deck ride Happy Face with Paree and Damini

Tour of Deccan was organised by Nachiket Joshi –Lifecycle group ,Pune.
I would also like to thank Nachi for helping me stick to my ketogenic diet through this ride, which I have read of the benefits for long distance endurance events and wanted to try first hand. It worked beautifully in terms of keeping me strong, lactic acid free and kept me going.
Note for ketogenic followers: you will not get the food as per the diet plan on your plate when you finish the ride like others on this expedition. You need to go scouting for it(Thanks again Nachi), as most stay places  are vegetarian. You will need to pack the breakfast the night itself hence limits your food supplies for the day. I would suggest a low carb moderate protein diet with cheese and almonds as snacks for this ride. Though I did follow a  ketogenic diet on the ride, its not easy one  to follow here , in this region.   

Points to keep in mind for Cycling expedition for stupid ; so that you don’t end up stupid:
  • ·         Plan the expedition ride according to your fitness levels, so its not an ordeal but a challenge you can enjoy completing.
  • Nothing can replace the training benefits for expedition, You Have to Train
  • ·         Expect to face the challenges, it’s not going to be a picnic
  • ·         Plan your training period for the ride , speak to the organisers to help if new to cycling .
  • ·         know your cycle well, its  important to have used a cycle , to know the gears,  to know how to fix the chain etc.
  • ·         Go for practice rides organised by the organisers to know your crew well, it’s great to have companions that can cheer you and pull you up and you can do the same for them.
  • ·         Maintain a Nutritious diet plan, remember you have to do more than your usual.
  • ·         As simple and silly  as it sounds be organised, it makes immense difference to have everything in place for the mind to stay calm n focused. Water bags and bottles filled, next days utilities packed, clothes as per weather conditions ready etc.
  • ·         Warm up before the ride ,keep some time for it before the time given to you. Its difficult to start cold and to gain pace through the ride
  • ·         Wear Proper gear, like padded cycling shorts, cycle handles that allow you different grips to avoid numb fingers. Padded thick gloves can also help  bit to avoid this issue.
  • ·         Keep hydrating and replacing the salts. Beg, borrow ,steal water. I would say the best option is to buy it from the village shops, clean chilled mineral water bottles.
  • ·         Carry all general medications and supplements you need
  • Girls , remember you will not be finding any washrooms, be ready to find safe places and friendly homes on the way 
  • ·         Avoid having iced drinks, ice can give bad stomach infections
  • ·         Keep the Rocky rule in mind, “One step, One punch, One round.” Don’t tire yourself thinking of long distances , but edge on with shorter targets in mind.
  • ·         Rest when required if not a time bound ride. 
  • Plan your rest when the ride is done as well as the time is very limited post ride too, due to super early mornings
  • For time bound rides train mind and body before the ride. 
One more expedition was ticked off the bucket list and one more time, my fitness regimen- weight Training and good nutrition plan- Ketogenic diet had not failed me. Though this time I am more than convinced to keep cycling in my workout schedule as many more expeditions need to be ticked off the list

Entering Goa Border
More than anything don’t forget its an expedition you have taken up as a challenge for  yourself and don't give up easily , on the way enjoy small moments you get with yourself and the nature.  your achievement through this lovely journey is what you shall cherish forever.

Enjoying Goa With the Girls- Paree and Damini
 Believe!You have the capability to live your dreams


  1. Fantastic Dear... We missed this ...may be next year...thanks for nice tips for newcomers...

  2. Awesome Jui !!! Truly Inspiartional !!! Looking forward to read more of your Cycling Expeditions !!

  3. Awesome Jui !!! Keep up the sports spirit in you and continue sharing your Cycling Expeditions.. Truly amazing !! Looking forward to read more of your articles ...😊

  4. Awesome Jui !!! Keep up the sports spirit in you and continue sharing your Cycling Expeditions.. Truly amazing !! Looking forward to read more of your articles ...��