The Wait is over, Mangalore now has its First Woman Super Randonneure in Gleonna D’Souza
Mangaluru: BREVETS DE RANDONNEUR MONDIAUX (BRMs) are the most popular endurance cycling event worldwide. Team WERC, affiliated with the most coveted cycling bodies in the world for long-distance cycling, Audax Club Parisien (ACP) & Audax India Randonneurs (AIR), organised a 600 km BRM on 19th January 2024.
The riders had to cover a distance of 600 km within a cut-off timeline of 40 hours, passing through various controls.
Aptly named TOLL TO WERC 600 KM BRM, the route took the riders all along NH 73 until the Brajmarakutlu toll and on NH 66 until the Karnataka-Goa Border, passing through several toll gates in between!
The last ride of the Super Randonneuring series of the season 2023-24 saw, 7 daredevils signed up for the event. The mix included veterans, rookies and novice riders too, in Joseph Pereira, Brian, Dr Gururaj Krishnamurthy, Nithin Mohan and all young guns in Hardik Rai, Sambhav A and Gleonna D’Souza, all attempting a 600 for the first time in their cycling career. The route was set up in such a way that riders had ample options for food, quick recovery & rest.
Flagging off the event at Taj Cycles, Bijai, at 7:30 pm our own Super Randonneures and the most coveted cyclist of Mangalore, Mr Joseph Pereira, Mr Shyamprasad Nayak and Mr Shivananda Rao briefed the riders about safety, rules & few tips to survive beyond 600!!! Packed with all the essentials, the right tips, good wishes and loads of energy, the riders set off down the road on their bikes.
Being a long weekend, Mangalore and the surrounding places witnessed some unusual traffic, never seen before. The first 50 km was all about negotiating through the traffic on Mangalore Bangalore Highway and one crisp climb at PADIL. Nithin Mohan’s leg injury resurfaced in the climb and he took a call to drop off from the ride. Due to a sudden medical emergency, Dr Gururaj, a veteran of many tough rides, had to call off his ride early. He was timely attended by doctors and later announced to be fit and out of any danger.
The rest 5 continued their journey. For Joseph Pereira, it was a kind of regular ride and he took the responsibility of leading the rest 4 first timers to complete the 600 km.
Enjoying each other’s company and adjusting each other’s pace, all 5 riders reached Kumta riding all through the night and took a breakfast break at Panduranga International Hotel, early in the morning, after having covered a distance of 250 km. Their next stop was the U-turn point at the Goa-Karnataka border, which was further 80 km away.
The heat started catching up, but not enough to quench the spirits of the team riding together! Brian sir, with his one-liners, kept the energy levels of the team high and kept motivating everyone, while Joseph sir kept steering the boat. All riders arrived at the U-turn point around 12 noon, covering a total distance of approx. 350 km in a good time of 17~18 hrs.
After about 18 km from the border, at Karwar, the organisers had arranged for accommodation at Bhadra Hotel, with the help of Karwar Bicycling Club (KBC) for the riders to take some rest and shower for a quick muscle recovery.
Riders took a good nap for a couple of hours and left around 3 pm after taking a refreshing shower, to cover their return journey of 250 km in the balance available time of 21 hrs!
In January and early February, it’s pleasant to ride on the coastal roads as the cool breeze, makes the setup for perfect night rides and so was this night too. Riders perfectly timed their break so as to avoid the scorching daytime heat and its impact of dehydration, fatigue and body tiredness!
Continuous ride into the second night is always a challenge for any riders and for the first timers, it’s even more as they have to battle the sleep in addition to all the other factors. With an intent to provide some cheer and support, 3 musketeers of WERC in Ashok, Shyam and Sarvesha set on an Auto-rickshaw ride! Leaving Mangalore around 7:30 pm, they traversed the distance until Shirur in about 5 hours, stopping on the way and enjoying their first long journey on an Auto-rickshaw!
As a surprise, at the Shirur toll around midnight, they caught up with the team who were having a coffee break! Looking at the organisers’ efforts in reaching out to them so late in the night, all the riders felt a sense of safety and security, which, kind of motivated them to complete the ride and not to drop, after coming so far.
With full music and entertainment on, the Auto-rickshaw with its crew, followed the riders for the next 1 hr until they all reached Kundapur, giving them some kind of excitement all the way. Getting a confidence of riders comfort, the team left for Mangalore to receive the riders at the finish point.
Ms Gleaonna D’Souza the young cyclist of Mangalore, who is a fabulous Cricket player at the highest level, working as a coach at the St. Aloysius College was attempting the ride for her first SUPER RANDONNEURE title! Having done the 200, 300 & 400 km rides in the seasons, this ride was one last shot at the SR, and she was all charged up, never to give up, despite her fight against sleep.
Hardik Rai, a young and upcoming racer having tasted success in a few races around wanted to test his ability to last long in rides and he was adding the ride, right from the beginning. Though he could have placed ahead of the rest, he ensured that the team spirit always won and stayed with the team until the end.
Another young techie, Mr Sambhav A, for a change, wanted to test himself against software testing and he too was trying for his first SR. Having done 300 & 400-km rides, he had an idea of how to pitch for a 600 km ride and he aced it to perfection!
A veteran of many long rides Brian sir was impeccable in his first BRM ride and that too straight into the 600 km ride. He remained a focal point of the team by motivating them, keeping the atmosphere light and bringing that zing factor, whenever the chins were down!
Finally, Joseph sir, who doesn’t require any introduction was riding like glue keeping everyone together.
While Hardik pushed off after Kundapur on a sole stint, the rest of the group stayed together. Hardik finished at 7:30 am, Brian, Gelonna & Joseph sir around 9 am followed by Sambhav at 10:30 am, all well within the cutoff time of 40 hrs, a mark of an incredible performance by all the riders.
Reaching the finish point, the 23-year-old Gleonna D’Souza was ecstatic and thrilled to know that she was the FIRST WOMAN in MANGALORE to achieve the title of a SUPER RANDONNEURE, and she dedicated this to her parents, especially her father who was anxiously waiting to see his daughter achieve the fete. The neighbourhood boyz Hardik and Sambhav were proud of their achievement and the dearth of experience this one ride taught both of them.
Endurance events are all about grit, courage & resilience. You will get 100 reasons to say ‘NO’, but then, what’s important is to find that one reason to say YES, that will eventually take you across the finish line!
BREVETS DE RANDONNEUR MONDIAUX (BRMs) are rides of fixed distances to be completed within specified time limits, having successfully passed through pre-determined time controls. The recognition is equal regardless of the finishing order! Each rider, who finishes the event within the cut-off time is awarded a certificate and a medal directly from ACP. Moreover, the rider will get a step closer to becoming a Super Randonneur and an opportunity to take part in one of the oldest and most coveted cycling events in the world, the Paris Brest Paris event, held in France once every 4 years.
Team WERC along with AIR & ACP congratulates all RANDONNEURs for taking part and completing the 600 km BRM /, especially Ms Gleonna D’Souza for achieving her first SUPER RANDONNEURE title.
Our sincere gratitude to all the volunteers for their wholehearted support and media for the event coverage.
WERC invites all cycling enthusiasts to visit the club page at www.wercycling.com, for more information on membership, various events, rides, technical details/tips etc.