BEYOND THE POINT OF NO RETURN  - THE SPIRIT OF BREVET

Next time someone curbs your enthusiasm and confidence about a cycling ambition because you don't have specialized equipment, point them in the direction of Siddalinga Swamy.  

BREVET

Siddalinga Swamy

Software Development Manager. Cycling Enthusiast and Randonneur.

Brevet (Brevet de Randonneur Mondiaux - BRM) is long-distance cycling within prescribed time limits in designated but unmarked routes with control points to check off.

It’s a ride of independence, a chance for you to ride in whatever way you want with a focus on you, your bike and the road that lies ahead of you.

Now, how do you become a Super Randonneur (SR)?

This title is earned by any rider who completes a series of brevets (200 Km – 13.5 Hrs, 300 Km – 20 Hrs, 400 Km – 27 Hrs, and 600 Km – 40 Hrs ) in the same year. A medal is also available for those holding this title.

Swamy has 4 SR medals (2016-1, 2017-2, 2018-1, 1000kms brevet and 1 more SR in 2018 is pending).

Unique thing about 2018 is the SR was done on basic Single Speed MyBike. Lets hear more details from him on his journey on brevets and his new adventure rides using Single Speed MyBike.

BREVET

What was the beginning of your relationship with cycling? We’re a little bit curious about your past, most specifically at what moment did you decide “well, this is it, I’m going to be Cyclist?

I am a Computer Science graduate working with Amazon Development Center as a Software Development Manager. From childhood, cycling has fascinated me. It's fascinating because all you require is a little bit of energy to have the freedom to explore new places.

All through my growing years, I would go to school, college and even for my engineering by cycle. After I moved to Bangalore, the traffic deterred me and my wife quite a bit. We did not dare to cycle for a few years. We'd got into a routine of spending weekends with late night movies and sleep late the next morning.

We knew that this had to change and we needed to be more active. In 2008 we picked up our cycles again. It started with 20kms and that would get us tired for the entire day. Around 2014 a little more training we attempted our first 100 + km ride, an endurance ride organized by the Go Green group. We rode upto Mysore. The previous night, I read an article by my friend Jayprakash E about 1000kms brevet that he had done.

I couldn't sleep that night just imagining myself riding 1000kms brevet some day. That changed my perspective about endurance rides. I had reached Mysore and my legs were still ready to pedal more. That's when I realized that I could do brevet rides of 200+ km.

My first brevet was an adventure, but I got to know that I need to learn a lot about endurance, which I am still learning. Then we started off with multiple brevets of 200, 300, 400 and 600kms. So far I have done 4 SR’s (200,300,400 and 600 in one cycling calendar year). I have also done a  1000 km brevet. Till date, I have done 27 brevets.

When did you realize that you could cycle long distances using a single speed bicycle (MyBike)?

In June 2017, my wife Sushma gifted me the Btwin MyBike Single Speed (Rs 4499/-). The purpose of the gift was to get our Daughter to ride with us. I was to get her on a child seat fitted into my Single Speed. Soon after a few joy rides with my daughter, I realised that MyBike was ideal. That's when I started thinking about commuting to office on my MyBike.

Since July 2017, I have cycled to office, each way 10kms contributing to 400kms of avg riding each month. After 4 months of commuting, I was really ready for long rides.

That's when my wife came up with the idea of cycling to Kanyakumari from Bangalore for our 15th wedding anniversary. 7 of our friends joined us on this epic ride. I had done several long rides on road bikes, but now this was my time to test myself with MyBike which had become a part of my everyday routine.  So, I cycled 700kms in 4 days from Bangalore to Kanyakumari. That's when I started believing myself more than ever that a lot more is possible with Single Speed. Kanyakumari brought in a lot of confidence to start brevets on Single Speed MyBike.

Who or what factors influenced you to take up randonneuring?

I have always enjoyed long rides on a cycle. But randonneuring is very special. It tests physical endurance and mental tuffness. The clock keeps ticking, adding to the pressure of reaching the Control Point. These are challenges I like taking up and completing. After a first few tough brevets, it was time to enjoy the endurance rides. My best buddies Shashidhar KC and Prasad Sadashiva have always stood with me on endurance rides. It’s the company that matters on long journeys and both of them are inspirational riders.

That added spice to the long journeys. With brevets, we met some of the most wonderful riders in India like Mohan Subramaniam, who would motivate us to achieve bigger milestones every time we met him on brevets.

BREVET

How was your first experience doing a BRM on a MyBike?

My wife too wanted to experience brevets. She decided to start off with a 200 km ride which included a Nandi hill climb. To give her company, I wanted to do this brevet differently, so I took MyBike. Surprisingly, MyBike was just amazing. The brevet was done quite smoothly. That's when I decided to try even longer brevets on Single Speed. I attempted a 600km brevet.

The MyBike was cruising at 27kmph avg speed early in the morning. That really boosted my confidence and an awesome 600k ride was completed in 36 hours.

Please share with us a couple of rides which you would consider as your achievements in cycling?

- Completing SR in MyBike Single Speed was definitely special.

 

- 700kms Kanyakumari was again a ride to remember.

 

- Basavana Betta climb  with an elevation of 7.5% avg gradient stands out for the killer elevation.

 

- Climbing Nandi hills 5 times back-to-back on the same day was a rare feat with an elevation of 1900m

 

- Anchetty 200k, supposed to be one of the toughest rides going through the forest zone and hills with an overall elevation of 2000m. 

What inspired you to first start cycling to work? - Distance Travelled? Challenges? Positives?

The traffic in Bangalore made me realize I can try something different. Meanwhile, every month I save almost 5000 on cab charges. It has given me the freedom to commute at my will. Saves me a lot of time and a big plus on fitness. I have lost 4kgs with regular cycling. I commute 10kms each direction, making it 20kms/day. Rash bikers and cabbies are irritating, the constant honking and bullying by bigger vehicles. But, not anymore, I rule the road now with 9 months of experience. I have learned how to occupy space and stay on course.

What advice do you have for people who are hesitant about cycling to work?

Trust me, any distance to commute is not really a big distance to worry about. We have travelled hundreds of kms, It's just about your mindset. About traffic, yes, it's terrifying to start with, but soon you understand how to make space for yourself.

If you don’t believe cycling can save time, give it a try. Cycling is the only mode in Bangalore where a promised time can be respected. Put a handkerchief to cover your nose, wear a helmet to safeguard your head and cycle your way into happiness. You should experience cycling to appreciate it better.

FREE EXERCISE, SAVES MONEY, LESS FRUSTRATION WITH TRAFFIC AND FREEDOM TO COMMUTE.

Cycling to Office rocks. If you are worried about what cycle to buy, start with MyBike. After 6000+kms of cycling on MyBike Single Speed, I can assure you its the best to help build stamina and saves your wallet as well.

So, what's next for you?

A 1000 km brevet on MyBike Single Speed is calling. 1-year of commuting to office on Single Speed is close by. I also want to try a few tuff brevets with a good hill climb to test MyBike and MySelf. 

Bangalore has some of the finest cyclists who have been riding single speed and have inspired me a lot, which includes Anil Kadsur, Vasudev KR, Jins Paul. So much to learn yet from them.  

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