Diary of A Super Randonneur – Navin Kotian

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Diary of A Super Randonneur – Navin Kotian

While challenges build character, discomfort leads to evolution and this is exactly what a RANDONNEUR experiences in one way or the other during a BRM.

Welcome to this world of RANDONNEURING, a long-distance, non-competitive & self-sufficient, endurance cycling with rides of 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km and 1000 km called Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRMs) or popularly known as BREVETS. Participation in randonneuring events is part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in the early 19th century in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie and perseverance are the hallmarks of RANDONNEURING.

While Audax Club Parisien (ACP) is the international governing body for randonneuring that administers and oversees the conduct of BRMs worldwide, in India it is done under the banner of AUDAX India Randonneur (AIR).

Team WE R Cycling in association with both ACP & AIR is bringing the world’s oldest cycling event into this coastal city, through BRMs, each month. Team, WE R Cycling president Sarvesha Samaga, speaking to our correspondents said “until the beginning of this season, Mangalore has seen 16 riders fighting through all the odds to earn the coveted title, the SUPER RANDONNEUR!! Well, the season 2020-21 is seeing a major shift to endurance riding with more and more riders taking a shot at the titles of RANDONNEUR & SUPER RANDONNEUR”.

Team mangalorean.com caught up with all the 5 riders who accomplished SUPER RANDONNEUR title in the season 2020-21. We bring down a short memoir of each riders cycling adventure, as part of our online web series, dedicated to these superhumans.

Navin Kotian: Journey towards SR (Super Randonneur) title – 200, 300, 400 and 600 km Brevets in a season

‘SR’ – when I told my son that I would be riding for this title this weekend, he told me, “It is super rider..right?” Well, he may have said it in his naivety, but he said it right because riding distances of 200, 300, 400 and 600 in a single season self-supported is not an easy task. One needs to have the heart of a ‘Super Rider’ to be a ‘Super Randonneaur’. Even if one is fit as a fiddle and has muscles that can move boulders, this feat is possible only when mind, body and soul work in tandem. As our WERC President Sarvesh sir always says, “End of the day, you ride with your mind and soul, as for any distance beyond 100 km, your body would cry to give up and abandon the ride”. He has shown the way and walked the talk several times by doing these rides effortlessly, with a smile on his face, with not even a day of riding practice before the ride.

Time on the saddle is very important for all riders before such events, but more importantly, I think it is the mind and soul that we should train. And this is exactly what WERC is trying to achieve under the able guidance of Sarvesh sir and other senior riders in the organisation.

For me, I always had the heart of a fighter, well, quite literally, as I have lived, practised, and coached martial arts and played the game at a national level in the 90s. But fast forward 15 to 20 years, focussing on career, corporate life had taken a toll on my fitness. A bulging waistline, weight-bearing the 100 kg mark, and a super sedentary lifestyle was all that was left. My body and spirit were calling ‘SOS’. I then started looking for some method of getting back to shape, and that is when Shyam sir introduced me to the world of cycling. It wasn’t easy to pick up the new sport with an ageing body. But again, my soul has helped me achieve that. From the time I started riding in 2017 until last year, I slowly reduced my weight and regained my stamina. I felt like I was back in my 20s.

My favourite event was the race and not long-distance cycling. I started participating in races locally in Mangalore, many a time finishing on the podium. I also partnered with Harivijay and Dheeraj and participated in the Deccan Cliffhanger endurance race, covering a distance of 600+ km in the relay format in 2018. We won the race with a record timing which stands to date. But with no races happening in Mangalore, I decided to try my luck with SR. I had done a few BRMs 200 and 300, so I had some idea of what I was getting into.

Randonneauring needs a completely different approach, and accordingly, I altered my training plan. Actual events started with BRM 300, then 400, 600 and the last 200. We had all challenges that we encounter in our coastal conditions like high humidity, headwinds, heat etc.. but the company of all my co-riders, Dr Gururaj Krishnamurthy, Dr Ramaraj, Sarvesh sir, Joseph sir, Gautham Baliga, Rajesh Nayak, Sreekanth, Dr Shemshaz and many more, their motivation, encouragement and most importantly their smiles in spite of their battered bodies kept us going. I thank each and everyone from the bottom of my heart that they were part of my incredible journey.

Also, it is not just these riders but the wider cycling community and their enthusiasm that keeps pulling us back to riding these insane distances. Mangalore/Udupi, even though they are small cities, have a very vibrant community of cyclists, and it is evident from the fact that it has generated so many champions who have earned fame nationally like Dhanraj Karkera, Shashank Pal, Harivijay Kudwa, Joseph Pereira, Srinidhi Urala, Dheeraj Cosmos, Vinay Raikar, Shyamprasad Nayak, Sarvesh Samaga, Brijesh, Ashok Lobo, Krishna Kumar, Nithin (Taj cycles), Dr Tilak, Dr Bhakta, Rajesh Nayak, Sivanand Rao and many more, I sure missing many names here inadvertently, as we now have as many as 20+ SRs in Mangalore/Udupi. And not just that, but we also have an India renowned coach, Gratian sir, who recognises the potential that riders in this region have and have supported us by providing valuable guidance and coaching.

Last but definitely not least, I would like to thank my wife, Dr Harshitha, my son’s Prannav and Dhruv, my mother-in-law, Jyothi Suvarna and my brother-in-law Dr Dheeraj Kumar, who have wholeheartedly supported me in my endeavour, without which riding an inch, leave alone km, wouldn’t have been possible.

So I wish more and more people should avail this opportunity to get into this world of cycling and grow our cycling family in Udupi and Mangalore. We, the members of WERC, are always there to help all budding cyclists to make Mangalore & Udupi famous in the cycling arena.

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