A ride to remember

Twenty five cyclists from Hyderabad Randonneurs group will be heading to Paris this week to take part in the 19th edition of Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) Randonneur, to be conducted from August 18 to 22 by Audax Club Parisien (ACP).

They will be joined by nearly 7000 cyclists from 75 countries and will cover a distance of 1230 kilometres in 90 hours, from Paris to Brest and back.

Before leaving, cyclist Sanjay Yadav who’s part of the Hyderabad contingent, says, “Some people like to call this event an amateur’s Tour de France,” to give an idea of what it means to partake in the prestigious cycling event.

The PBP is among the oldest amateur bicycling events in the world. First held in 1891, the event now takes place every four years. A sizeable participation from India began participating only in 2011. In 2015, a little more than 50 cyclists participated from India. This year, the number has swelled to nearly 350. The growth in randonneuring in India is thanks to the presence of 66 Audax India Randonneurs clubs across the country.

The route

  • Alliance Francaise Hyderabad informs that the 1230 kilometre Paris-Brest-Paris ride will begin from Paris and move to Brest in Brittany on France’s Atlantic coast, and back to Paris.

To qualify for PBP, cyclists go through rigorous training for months. Each cyclist completes a series of ‘brevet’ rides. A cyclist who completes a brevet ride of 200 kilometres in 13.5hrs is regarded as a ‘randonneur’ and a cyclist has to complete a Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometres within 13.5, 20. 27 and 40 hours respectively) in a calendar year to qualify for PBP.

Hyderabad Randonneurs, headed by Muralidhar Nannapaneni, has been organising brevets for seven years.

Rajeev Kalva, one of the ‘ride responsible’ cyclists for the brevets in Hyderabad, states there has been an increasing awareness of international cycling events in recent years. “There were fewer cycling clubs in India in 2015. Today there are a number of clubs and cyclists are eager to participate in international events,” he says.

Giving an insight into the preparation, Sanjay says there have been several rides — endurance rides, leisure long distance rides, and fitness routines with focus on strength and conditioning.

Rajeev adds, “Almost every cyclist from Hyderabad who is participating in PBP has completed a 1000 kilometre ride to test their fitness levels.” At PBP, cyclists have to ride day and night.

In July, a contingent of cyclists rode from Hyderabad to Bhadrachalam, Rajahmundry and Vijayawada and back to Hyderabad. “More than covering long distances, it’s a race against time,” says Rajeev.

The cyclists are glad that the heat wave which gripped Europe a few weeks ago has relented and Paris now enjoys temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius, and wind speed of around 50 kilometres per hour.

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