Bhubaneswar: After almost 6 months of non-activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Audax India Randonneurs (AIR) has finally opened the Brevets across India with Covid-19 restrictions. BCAC as an affiliated Club with Audax Club Parisien, has conducted a 300KM BRM over one of the most scenic routes of the state covering Hindol-Narsinghpur Forest Range. The routes for this Brevet was planned keeping in mind the most popular tourism destinations of the state; i.e. Pipili (famous for applique and handicrafts), Cuttack (famous for filigree crafts), Hindol-Narasinghpur Forest Range (famous for Asian Elephants and Budha-Budhi Ghat), Maniabandha (famous for its unique style Paata Saree), Anshupa (the largest horse-shoe shaped sweet-water lake) among others. This route was full of flora and fauna covering many villages and hamlets offering a perfect rural picturesque for the travellers. No doubt, this was the most scenic route over which BCAC has conducted its Brevets so far.
On the event day, 6 (Six) riders out of 8 registered started this ride from the BCAC Clubhouse at Unit-VI, Bhubaneswar. After the mandatory bike inspection and route description, and Covid-19 safety instructions, the riders were flagged off by the Club President, Mr. Sanjeeb Panda, IPS. Many other riders came to see-off the riders at the starting point. The message was clear from the beginning; to promote tourism in Odisha through this ride and pitch a social awareness about Covid-19, which riding within the limits of Audax norms.
At 5:51AM the ride started from the Clubhouse, and the peloton moved towards Pipili – the first Control Point of this BRM. The morning was quite smooth but was quite humid and overcast. After almost 2 hours the Sun started showing its power and the day became like a hot furnace. With humidity it literally soaked up all the power from the riders by the time they crossed 120Kms from the starting point. Though regular hydration and small pit-stops helped them to stay focused on their target, it was literally a hot and humid day with a real adventure to try this BRM of 300Kms.
By 2PM, the riders stopped at a road-side eatery to have their lunch. As the team was small, they stayed together motivated each-other while covering the roads. After Lunch as soon as they took a turn towards Hindol, the Sun became a little merciful on the riders. It was afternoon hours, but the dense green forests offered the riders a bit of relief from the scorching heat and humidity. The real challenge was just approaching as the Ghats were coming nearer. It took a heavy amount of will power to ride over the Ghat roads, though it was wonderfully scenic and full of greenery all around. The riders have got back some power after a nice and light lunch. One by one, they climbed up the steep hilly Ghats and covered Kilometres after Kilometre. This forest is highly infested with Asian Elephants, which also accounted for high precautions in the entire jungle stretch. Though none of the riders witnessed any elephant during this ride, they definitely enjoyed roaming of many wild animals and birds listening to the beautiful music of the nature.
It was almost 5PM by the time the riders rode to the top of the final Ghat. They took a brief halt at Budha-Budhi temple on the top of Ghat for hydration and tea. The weather has become soothing and the tough climbs were all done. Now it was time to enjoy a descent of almost 10Kms till Panchamukhi Chowk at Narasinghpur.
As the riders reached Narasinghpur, a gala welcome was waiting for them by SHARP – a renowned social work organization of Narasinghpur. The founder of SHARP, Mr. Bijay Kumar Panda was personally present to welcome all these bravehearts from BCAC with his team. After a small break, light refreshment and a brief interaction with media, the riders started again on their return route towards the next control point at Jatamundia.
This return stretch was amazing with black-top roads and negligible speed-breakers. The time lost during Ghat climb was quite made-up over this beautiful stretch of almost 40Kms till Anshupa Lake. Without taking break for dinner the riders continued their ride for the rest of the route finishing their 300KM ride well-before the finish time. This entire ride was conducted abiding the Covid-19 regulations, with proper sanitization and wearing masks at the Control Points.
With successful completion of this BRM, Ajay earned the coveted title of a Super Randonneur in this season. With this addition, a total of 19 riders became SR in this season 2019-2020. Ranjan and Suryakanta earned their Randonneur titles with their very first Brevet. Subrat, Gangadhar and Prabhat completed yet another Randonneuring with a spectacular performance. Sibasis and Santosh joined as Ride Marshalls as per Audax norms in this first Brevet after 6 months of social restrictions.
This BRM was a spectacular show of sportsmanship, an amazing display of camaraderie and a superb show of determination. All six riders support each-other mentally to cover this gruelling route with an elevation gain of almost 1500mtrs. These bravehearts rode in pack and completed the entire stretch mentally supporting the novice riders. Apart from small initial hick-ups due to heat and humidity, this ride was a splendid Brevet with nature all around. BCAC would like to repeat this route in the upcoming seasons for Brevets and other adventure and exploration rides.