"Life never goes the way you want. "

"It always had planned to kick your ass, no matter how careful you are. And after getting kicked, you fall, you get hurt, but you got to get up and start all over again. That's what makes us human."

2015 was no different,  faced many issues, learned many things, started all over again and reached the new level. This year was lots of travelling, biking, cycling, running and lots of amazing stuff.

1. Did Pune Leh Bike trip. This I will remember,  throughout my life, the experience of riding across 8 states and 8500km is thrilling and can't be explained.  Where I stayed most of the trip in my tent or in dhabas. Sharing stories with people, talking to them, spending time enjoying the nature and much more.

2. Motorcycle traveller meet. One of the amazing 3days event I was part of. Riders across the world who are legends or motorbike travelling were in the event. It was amazing to listen to them, their stories and their experiences. The stories they had lived, the moments they had lived all we were able to feel and enjoy. Those 3 days were like best time of motorbiking event.

3. Did Pune Goa Cycling Solo. In monsoon rented a road bike and started to enjoy monsoon. 2 days trip from Pune riding across Kolapur and ended at Goa. On the way meet one more cyclist who was heading towards Leh from Bangalore.

4. Attended many marathons and did 35km. This was tough, but I practiced and managed to clock lots of 10km and running event with good timings and on Christmas did my 35km. I was seriously insane to participate in that, lack of practice resulted in bad timing, but I completed it somehow. It was something unexplainable. 

5. Joined Herbalife. One of the best thing which happened, being part of world best nutrition company. What else you need. Thanks to one of my facebook friends, due to him I was able to know about this.

6. Jammu Kashmir trip with parents. The whole week with mom and dad enjoying the serenity of Kashmir valley. The beautiful mountains of Kashmir and lovable weather. Even did Ice Skiing.

Now 2016 just few clicks away, wish it will be more amazing, thrilling, exciting, beautiful and memorable.

Weekends, most wondrous thing for all working professionals,  as they get time to sleep their ass off. But whats that, its only 5 am in the morning,  and streets are full of people in shorts and running shoes. Welcome to Pune and welcome to the runners world.

Pune is the different dimension of this world, where every 3 people out of 5 love running or does run regularly,  and thanks to the amazing athletes this city has produced from marathon champions,  ironmans, amazing cyclists and the list are endless.  Moreover the IT culture, technological advancement and availability of running gears everything help this city to grow its running culture.  Every other weekend,  there are running events keep happening. Maybe it the new fad among people over here, but this has made them become serious about their lifestyle.

And then there are some people who are training seriously to achieve their goal and get that podium position. Following daily training plans, good diet, proper nutrition. I too somehow got attracted towards all of these and started running seriously 2 months back. Doing 5km initially was tough,  but daily practice helped to improve me. Did few 10kms and manage to complete within 1hour.

I don't know, but always I keep on challenging myself. I had never done 21km or 42km, but this Christmas I planned to participate in Ultra Marathon. Doing 50km or 100km is a no joke, need lots of practice, so planned to opt for 35km instead in Wester Ghat Ultra by Run Buddies. So, it was 5 am in the morning, reached the beautiful venue in time. And slowly all participants arrived, many were doing 100km and 100miles too.

We started 6 am sharp, it was still dark and cold but was an amazing experience.  Crossing the trail route, hill section, villages we reached the U-turn point which was 12.5km from the start point. The route was astonishing and beautiful,  moreover, the organizers had done an excellent job in managing and providing full support after every 2km. Banana,  Oranges, peanuts,  glucose,  water, first aid everything was available. By the time we reached it was light, but it was still chilling. We all turned back, to complete the loop of 25km. I had till now, only done 10km, but somehow was managed to pull till 18km. But after that lack of practice resulted in slowing down my pace. The last 10km, I was not able to run at all. had to take frequent rests and stops. But pull me hard, to achieve my goal.
And at the end of 4hrs 25min, I was at the finish line, with finishers medals and the smile of satisfaction. My legs were in pain, but all goes when u get that sweet medal. Feels like every pain were worth it.

There was breakfast arranged for all participants. Stretching and cool down exercise what followed after that. I know, I really sucked with that bad timings but, that was great for me. I was happy that I was able to achieve it, which first seems impossible after I crossed 25km, but glad, I was able to make it.  What I loved about this event, was the way it was organized, in a marvelous way. There were participants who were targeting towards 100km and 100miles, every point was taken care of while executing this event. Even though it was my first attempt to do any ultra running, but one thing I learned that sincere practice, training, and proper nutrition can help you achieve anything.

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

Few pictures of the event.

Mtb nationals championship 2015, which was held in Pune, Golf Country Club. Picturesque location,  excellent climate, great arrangement, lots of sponsors and everything was favorable to make this event a sensational event ever happened. Riders, cyclist,  mountain bikers, national athletes all around the nation gathered at this gorgeous location surrounded by flourishing mountains. All of these temptations forced me to leave my office work and spend a whole day at the event venue.

During these two days, I spent lots of time meeting, talking, discussing, sharing with hell lots of people, few I knew, few I meet the first time, made many new friends, discussed lots cycling, mountain biking and everything related to cycling.  And this was obvious as most of the people at the venue are from cycling fraternity.

Giant Starkeen cycles did a good job in executing so many arrangements and make the event look like a huge event, sharing lots of photographs,  pictures,  huge flex, online marketing and guess what, it did work, as all of these covered the dark truth and secrets which hurt every true cyclist out there.

You must be thinking,  I am making baseless rumours to so-called cycling federation event. So I would point out few details:
  1. Day 1, like all other national sports event, there was an opening ceremony,  so cool right. But what u got is riders were made to sit in the sun for hrs while officials enjoyed the canopy and juices. No shade was provided to athletes, and sadly the had to tolerate this behavior from so called cycling federation. Have a look yourself.
  2. Day 2, I reached venue to support few of my friends who were representing some states in that race. Glad there was  a shade this time, but it was so small, that even 50 cyclists can't sit or relax inside it together, resulting many lying under trees so some unused medical tents, registrations counter, etc. And I thought it was a national sports event.
  3. After a race, riders have to get coupons from team official to have refreshments, and what they get is 1 tiny banana, 2 loaves of bread. What a nutritious breakfast it is right. No eggs, no glucose, no apples. Moreover on asking for extra banana,  we were told, that only 1 is allowed from officials. Guess, CFI thinks having egg or more bananas is dangerous. Resulting many participants were carrying own diet. experienced riders.
  4. Now a national sports race, changing race timings, as they feel like, no prior information to riders. Caused one state missed the race, which was supposed to happen at 2.30, was preponed to 10.30. Even open category master race was preponed, without any msg or information to cyclists who practiced hard whole year.
  5. Now let's talk about the track, as they mention it was UCI class 3 race course. Just wondering from which angle they found this track as per international standards, just want to meet that guy. No technical challenges just plain track with little uphill section and minor flat downhill, where you can even ride a road bike. And guess what, on asking, we get silly explanations.
  6. There were two Refreshments zones, and volunteers they have no bloody idea what to do, standing 2km away from riders and showing tiny water bottles.
  7.  First aid, only at the start point. As a result, lots of riders crashed, and they had to wait for a long time to get basic first aid. This shows how much federation is bothered about players. No wonder many good athletes,  skip these events, without second thoughts.
  8. Taking the selfie,  capturing photographs are too common, thanks to smartphones, but how can you justify this when race officials who had the sole responsibility of managing the race, were busy in updating their social media and taking selfies in while the race was in progress.
  9.  Songs playing too loud  near the start point, that even a dead man would wake up from his coffin. Guess Federation thinks "sheela ki jawani" will improve concentration and encourage riders more.
  10.  No timing chips used in the race, not sure how accurate the timings were in time trial event. To make clear just for CFI, timing chips are not Lays or kurkure, these are computer circuits used to capture accurate timing to microseconds.

And the list is endless.

This is the first national event I attended,  and I guess, this was my last too. In history I had attended lots of countless events, and they were much better. Setting up huge banners everywhere with sponsors name in it, don't make an event better.  CFI needs to learn a lot from the way international races are organized and improve themselves, than showcasing their arrogance, ignorance and attitudes.

I am a cyclist,  I love cycling, I spend time learning new skills, Improving myself, increasing my stamina and energy. Not to get wasted in these kinds of event. I would like to be in events, where I am challenged, where I am treated as a cyclist,  not like any favour, I like to be in event where I meet athletes across the world, and where track is so tough to break my bone, so that I can rise up and ride hard next time, instead of jaywalking on race track.  I would attend the event, where cycling and cyclist are respected.
Goa international mountain biking challenge stage 3 at Panjim came to a nail-biting finish in front of hundreds of spectators and riders of Goa. The crowd roared and cheered as Goan riders cross passed them in every lap. And final race ended with obvious and deserving winner Rohan Buddhi Tamag from Nepal, the way he finished every stage astonished everyone.

There were over 40 participants across the globe including Australia,  Nepal, Zurich, India. Even though this was only the very first year for Cycling Goa to organize such an international race, but the event was up to mark and expectations of all riders. Even the track crafted for all the stages are of international standards and tough to make you realize the true sense of a cross country race. I consider it more of Enduro race as there were downhill portion,  rock patches,  blind curves, single tracks, few technical small jumps, gruelling uphill, large river stream. Race comprised of 3 stage from which first two days lap was 4.5km approx and last day was a 2.4km circuit. Obviously race was no childs play, to complete in provided time period, you need skill to control your bike, skills to conquer those humongous uphill, skills to maneuver easily in blind turns, skills to race fast in horrifying downhills. And its not only skill which got tested, you need to have stamina, energy, endurance, power and a huge positive spirit to compete the race in hot and humid climate of Goa.
A small video of day 2 race

GIMBC Day 2 stream crossing!
Goa International Mountain Biking Challenge Day-2 race started off with the riders going through a stream. #GIMBC
Posted by Lumos on Sunday, October 18, 2015
Pointing about race management, it was conducted in a very good manner with everything at the position, from the hotel to food, transport, race venue selection, route marking. Every participant enjoyed a lot and stay at Jungle Book resort which was our first 2day stay location,  situated in the extensions on Dudhsagar waterfall river. It was one of most astonishing, marvelous, and extraordinary place we could ever have. Even the last day also when we got shifted to Panjim for stage 3 race and prize ceremony,  the hotel provided was too good, situated near to Miramar beach. Organizers took care of participants and their satisfaction level. And this helped us to focus on the race and perform remarkably.

This was my first mountain biking challenge while I was struggling with my bike and such a technically challenging and demanding track, there were participants who literally flew on their bike and finished 1 hour prior to me. First two days I was so stocked with the race struggle I was not able to finish in time. The third day I succeeded to clock a good time just 15min late from the first rider. Good enough for a seasoned rider. This race taught me so many skills and technicalities and virtue of mountain biking. Now that I am back, I am still dreaming about those woods where I rode to finish my circuit. And I have already made up my mind to compete next year, but with lots of more preparation, training and discipline.

Even though the festival ended, to me it felt like the new beginning of mountain biking era in a country like India. If you ask me, this is what India needs at this stage, we need more races like this to push riders to a whole new level and tackle top athletes around the world. Hope next year GIMBC will keep up its standards and make the race worth attending again.

Riders that just wouldn't Quit! The Finishers are ecstatic! #GIMBC

Posted by Lumos on Sunday, October 18, 2015
It's been two weeks now that I am back from my 21days mind-blowing tour covering 8500km. I finally was able to steal some time from office work, to pen down my story.

My trip ended with a real bang, I was at MTM 2015 Bangalore for last 2days. While I was returning from my journey,  I came back to Pune, removed all the dirty and unnecessary stuff, got my saddle bag loaded with new fresh clothes and left for Bangalore. 800km of dull and tiresome riding constantly on 6 lane highway as doing 100+kmph is just not me. Somehow I managed to keep my self-focused to complete the journey, thanks to one Harley owner, from Belgaum. Meet him somewhere in between and after that the journey to Camp Shirti was little bearable riding with him.

So what I did at MTM?

Ever since the dates were announced I was dancing with excitement and eagerness to be part of this, and luckily I was even able to finish Leh Ladakh trip in time to make sure I don't miss it.   I had been to IBW twice, attended many biking events in Pune, joined some groups, but no one was able to keep attached to me, cause for me biking is being myself and traveling, places which are less populated, spend time with myself sitting at some hill top, camping in woods. And MTM is home for such legends, who did world tours or bike, cycles, legends who had scripted their name in Guinness book of records, legends who are riding for 10years.

Surrounded by rocks and boulder hills camp shirsti is like a hidden beauty, between the darkness of forests. It is a place where you can be yourself, without bothering about city traffic, and being with like minded people. You get to stay in camp, have the stomach full of food whole day and enjoy biking and feel happy of being a rider. Those 3 days, I did not feel like even taking out my camera, cause moments and time like these can never be captured.

The story does not end here, the real reason of being at MTM is meeting all of those legends, Bharadwaj Dayala, a simple guy who did world tour on a Indian bike, Deepak Kamath, who had many records in his name,  Dilip bam, first guy to cross Sahara desert on a punny scooter and the list is endless. You talk to them, listen to their stories, experience, memories, photographs and get inspired. Plus you get to have the selfie with lots of big bad bikes. It is a completely different event, people laugh, share, talk, enjoy barbecue. It like a heaven for motorcycle travelers. I was able to meet Akhil and Shaquib. We had a good time, whole day discussing, listening, talking, blabbering about the bikes, bikers, and everything lovely about biking. 

What more you can ask for after a long solo ride. 
"If you don't ride in the rain and get dirty, then you don't ride".

Pune MTB Dirt Race - Edition 1, organized by Team Pune Racing, was not about just cycling, it was a phenomenon which has just started, a whole new level of  competition ever experienced by riders.

As mentioned by few rides "Awesome trail, a very different one and it was fun riding".

And we guess this is what MTB Dirt Race is supposed to be, a tough, rugged, unexpected, muddy, rocky path to test a rider true cycling spirit, to test his stamina, endurance, his skill and maneuvering qualities as a mountain biker. Surrounded by scenic hills of Sus Gaon, this cross-country race gave riders chance to explore and understand different types of Mountain Biking  genre.

The terrain was fabricated of single tracks, forest tracks, downhill portions, gutwrenching uphill. With the total distance of 3.5km. Also rains 2days prior to the event, made the track little more interesting. The format was very also very different, there were 3 categories based on riding skill Elite, Pro and Women's categories, and all categories had different laps. As the race progressed, riders rushed to get hold of that podium and results were  unbelievable. Even the army brats gave a tough competition to experience downhill and MTB riders of Pune. Pune Racing an initiative by Raw Adventure Solutions have started with new series of cycling, running and all different kind of race activities. They are planning to have mountain biking races, road races, trail marathons and the list is uncountable. These races will help Pune Cyclists learn more about cycling, different kinds of races which happens in cycling sports and will also encourage cyclists to understand more and love cycling sports.

Disclosed here few pictures from the race.

Revving up the engines, lined up, full geared, all modified bikes. When we all  started the ride to complete 60km of tough terrain, crossing some unknown pavements, jungles, mud, slug, broken rocks,  n number of waterfall, rivers, we had no idea how the ride will be.

Even though the route was same for 70%, there were 100% chances of surprises, and u can not tame a dense n dark jungle who is ready to gulp you up and leave no traces of you or your machine.

Race path was so slippery,  that even a minor mistake you take you to deep inside the valley which was following us at every turn.  Even though we fell again n again, but we keep riding and kept conquering the untamed path across Panshet Jungles.

And we reached the completion of Stage 1 30km from the start point. Rested for few minutes,  some photo sessions, some stunts, some enjoyment in the cold river and we were ready again to complete the journey u had started.  This time controlling bike was difficult now. Trails were more slippery, slugs and mud had covered whole bike and the riders, even the off road tyres failed times. Enjoying the beauty of Panset Dam and struggling with offroad we finally reached to finish line.

Pune Off Road Expedition is not a race or a rally, it is a whole new level of a ride for everyone. You will get time and chance to understand your machine and yourself. Not everyone over there is dirt race professionals. There were many bikers of different genre and many first timers. And at the end you will be a different biker, a biker who respects his machine, his friends, his co-riders. This was my 2nd Off Road Expedition and I had an awesome time meeting some old friends and making many new ones. As I mentioned this expedition helped me to understand my machine and how it behaves in different conditions. What are its limitations and where my bike excels, which I would not have learned ever in million of km of road riding.

Now this brings me back to my question, and my answer is yes, it does not matter what machine or bike you have, it does not matter if your mudguards are removed or not, it does not matter is you have a dirt bike or not, only thing what matter if you have the courage to ride an unknown and different terrain with your lovely machine. And it bet once you complete the track, you will thank me.

Every time I do a solo ride, questions starts pouring on me.

"Why solo?
Dont you get bored?
What u will do in case of any problems.
Dnt go alone, its not safe."

And all I do is smile on their misery and go on one more solo trip, bombarding my social website with lots of more photos and giving glimpse of how awesome my solo trips are.

I am not a pro rider or a traveller but I had done enough of rides and travelling all solo to rant about, how fun and excitement a solo trip can be, and advantages of travelling solo are enormous. So here based on my experience I am adding few points which makes me love solo riding or travelling.

1. Freedom. Peace. Flexibility. 
Travelling alone gives you feel of freedom and peace related to your plan. You can change modify and update your plans spontaneously without any compromises or accounting for anyone else feelings. You can stop where ever you want, can have food wherever or whatever you feel like. Can go places you like. Can sleep, stay, do on your wish, no discussion or wastage of time. So you will be travelling on your own term and guess this is the reason you opted for the holiday at first place. Your trip is like a blank canvas,  start painting it with colors of your preferences. 

2. Learn New things.
Life is a long learning process. And travelling alone opens the door of knowledge.  You will get to know and learn many new things which no book can teach. Once you hit the road, you will face the reality, it won't matter how much preparation you have done, life out there is different and sometime can be cruel and that where you will excel. During my trips, I actually don't plan much, I decide on the go, depending on conditions.

3. Making new friends.
Travelling alone gives you the chance to make friends and interact with many new peoples. Many are scared of doing so, and the reasons are always valid, but u don't get always negative. During my trips I meet 80% of good people, some welcomes you for dinner, some let you camp at safe place. Being solo you are naturally open to everyone and the hesitation is lost.

Example :
 During my GOA trip, I had flat both of tyres in my cycle, glad there was a restaurant opposite to road, he helped me fixing my bike, if he had not been there I would have been stuck in a dark night on a highway surrounded by jungles.

One more story where I had beer with Bikers from Chandigarh during my Leh trip.

If I had been in a group all of these would not have happened, I would have been stuck with people I came or I am with.

4. Confidence.
While travelling alone helps in building confidence, as when you are alone, you have to face all the situations by your self and this helps a lot. Like you have to camp alone, make camp fire. Travel in a new city without my issues. While in group trips you wont face all of these situations as someone or other will help you for sure. Like I had to repair my bike when it breaks down,  even if  it takes time I learn while I do and it helps me in my next trip. You overcome the fear of heights, darkness, spiders or even new food. The more you travel, the less you fear. As long as you make regular solo trips, you will feel more confident each time, no matter what your fear is which is also a good excuse to travel regularly.

5. Save Money.
This is kind of contradiction, but I was able to save money many times during my solo travels. You get hotel as per your own budget, you eat what fits in your pocket, public transport etc. Solo travelling opens gate to all such possibilities.

For example like in my leh trip, I am able to save almost 50% of amount, the tour organizers charge. No one actually believed me.

So next time, you are in doubt, gear up and leave on a solo trip. You never know what you will hit and what amazing story awaits you on the other side.

15th August 2015, 6:00 am.
Started early with little snacks and in few hrs I was out of Maharashtra borders. You can feel you are in Karnataka, roads feel like heaven decorated with lots of trees and flower plants , peacocks and sky get more colorful and dramatic.

Early mornning breakfast point

Bangalore Highways

To GOA, there us a turning after Nipani which we have to follow and it will end up in Goa highways, crossing some of the beautiful terrains, jungles, waterfalls and streams. Before turning  for GOA, I had my breakfast, meet many bikers of Kolhapur who are again on Enfield doing some Independence Day Ride.
Kolhapur Bikers

But most interesting was when I meet one more cyclist who was riding from Bangalore to Leh. We discussed for hours, regarding respective experience on cycle touring. It was cool meeting this guy, he shared lots of information, as he had already done many rides like this. The coolest guy I meet, he was travelling all alone and he was also happy to see me as mentioned " a cyclist after 13 days of the ride".

This is the cyclist, who is going leh from bangalore

Soon we bid good bye to each other and started towards our respective destinations. Goa is not only about beaches, it holds much more, the flora fauna, the beautiful jungles, majestic  ghat sections, and soon it was raining. Even though I was carrying my raincoat, I didnot used it, was not interested to spoil the fun of riding in rain shirtless. Removed my shirt, shoes and was riding as fast as I can in that rain, it was too fun. Kids crossing  were shouting as I waved my hand.

Who says road bikes cant do offroading

Dark forests before Amboli Ghat

Reached Amboli Ghat around 1pm, being weekend, it was overcrowded resulting police had to jumpin for creating space for ongoing vehicles. One of most beautiful and picturesque place to be in monsoon, complete valley was covered with green and colorful trees, with clouds passing by making the place like heaver. I spend few minutes enjoying whole scenario and started , after that it was downhill for 10 to 15km. I had to be cautious of bad roads, but there were none, that 30 min was best moment of the whole ride, crossing effortlessly.

These guys took lots of my photographs

Amboli Ghat Waterfalls

After Amboli Ghat I entered the last city of Maharashtra, Sawantwadi. a simple and beautiful city surrounded by mountains with a lake in between which is a popular place in the city. I spent some time relaxing and enjoying the evening sun going down. It was slowly getting dark I was approx 50km more from Mapusa, increased my speed to reach my destination in time.

But guess my fate was bored of all good things that happened to me. And the real game started. The highway was  too dark and only light I was having was a small torch and the ongoing veichles, adding to my misery  there were many small but very bad patches which are enough to bring a road bike down to earth. I missed one such pothole a  very small one, and then,
"Thud, thud"
And I knew the inevitable had happened.  I was stuck in a dark highway 50km before goa, surrounded by dense forests, with no lights and with my bike gone flat.

But there is always a hope, saw a small restaurant nearby,  went there and started repairing, as I was riding a road bike, so the tyres are different, glad I had one extra tube, changed it, repaired the second one. After 4 to 5  trial and struggle which lasted for 2 hrs I was ready with my bike, but it was not in perfectly repaired. Seems im not jack of all trades after all.
With a broken bike,, plus the uphills and the dark rainy night, I was sure, not even superman can help me to reach Mapusa City

Somewhere around 11pm , I managed to enter goa, found one resturant, had my dinner. After talking with restaurant owner, he allowed me to camp in resturant itself, as I was his last customer and he was anyway going to close. Problem solved. Spent few hrs talking with the cook and guard regarding my trip. Sometime it is really fun to talk and spend time with strangers. That night I can never forget.

16th Aug 2015, 6.30am
Woke up. packed tents and other stuffs, repaired bike properly and after a good breakfast I was again on the road enjoying beautiful morning of Goa. Everywhere it is green and clean, not much crowd, cheap rates and awesome weather. Sun was shining bright as if welcoming me to my destination.

Resturant where I camped at night

Morning Breakfast

In few hrs I was at Calangute Beach, had awesome breakfast, a bear, went to shack and spent rest day  having fish, resting , enjoying beach and cool breeze of sea.
Calangute Beach

Fort Augwada, took my bike inside as there was no security.

In this whole trip I saw lots of ups and down literally, meet so many people, spent best time being myself, enjoyed riding in rain, playing in water stream, eating most tasty food, talking to many people about my self, my trip. Over all , this trip gave me things which I was carving for long. Complete Freedom. Now what can be better way than this to celebrate the Independence Day.