1,200km in 75 hrs: City cyclist endures French challenge | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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1,200km in 75 hrs: City cyclist endures French challenge

In less than a month after completing a prestigious long distance endurance cycling event in Paris, Kailas Patil, is already back to training.

mumbai Updated: Oct 09, 2011 01:31 IST
Prachi Pinglay

In less than a month after completing a prestigious long distance endurance cycling event in Paris, Kailas Patil, is already back to training.

Patil was part of the first 14-member Indian contingent that participated in the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonne, a 1200 km long distance cycling event for amateurs. Only two of them completed the tour; Patil was the only one from Mumbai.

"I trained and prepared for more than year to make it to the event," said the 25-year-old sales/marketing executive. The event, held from August 21 to 25, allowed only short breaks for naps during the four-day journey between Paris to Brest and back.

The Randonne is a gruelling cyclothon that tests participants' mental and physical endurance. No support vehicle follows the cyclists and they have to finish the course within 90 hours. While the fastest time clocked this year was 45 hours, Patil took 75 hours to complete his journey.

Qualifiers are not easy either. One needs to complete 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km brevets (long distance cycling events) before one even apply. The Mulund resident practiced by cycling to and from Lonavala, Alibaug, and even Pune. "On our roads, a cyclist is looked at as if he is committing a crime by occupying a part of the road," Patil rues. His weekend training involved cycling for a minimum of 100km and rigorous dietary restrictions.

Lack of sleep was perhaps the toughest challenge. "I talk to myself or even sing while on the cycle," said Patil. During a practice session on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, he almost veered off track while "sleep-cycling".

Patil used his savings to fund the tour, which cost approximately Rs2 lakh for the cycle, gear, tickets and visa. He hopes to get funding for a similar event in the UK in 2013. "My dream is to participate in the 4,800km annual event that courses through America but it's impossible to fund it on my own," he said, bemoaning the lack of enthusiasm and encouragement for cycling as a sport in India.

"It is a tremendous achievement for Kailas," said Satish Patki, 59, a veteran cyclist, an Audax Club Parisien Representative for India and a mentor to Patil. "Unfortunately, in India there is no culture for such organised sporting events. It takes years to plan and participate. With this achievement, hopefully it will get better."